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Drinks by Design
Kelly A. Magyarics | Photo: Dakota Fine | February 26, 2013
As skillfully stirred and well-chilled as they may be, drinks concocted at home are never quite as satisfying as those ordered at your favorite bar. Mixology talent aside, the devil is in the details: Where you sip a cocktail can be every bit as important as what’s in—or dangling on the edge of—that rocks glass. A bartender who incorporates a venue’s design elements into his or her bar program lends it a drop of liquid synergy; new (and newly renovated) DC hot spots share drinks that exemplify their aesthetics and ambiance.
The Drink Kalinka-Malinka
The Den Mari Vanna, 1141 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202.783.7777, marivanna.ru
The Design-spiration The new DC outpost of the Russian restaurant evokes “a night out on the town in the coziest room of your great-aunt’s home,” muses owner Tatiana Brunetti. Records, picture frames and Slavic tchotchkes cover walls of exposed brick and peeled wallpapers representing historical eras; guests sip icy-cold shots of more than 70 housemade, seasonal vodka infusions amid chandeliers in the third-level private cocktail lounge. The grandma’s kitchen-scented Kalinka-Malinka combines house-infused strawberry vodka, peach puree and ginger syrup, garnished with a fresh peach slice. “The restaurant embodies the elements of this cocktail in everything from the berry smells coming out of our pastry kitchen to the fruit embroidery on
our chaise lounge.”
The Drink They’re All Bastards bowl
The Den Hogo, 1017 17th St. NW, 202.393.1313, facebook.com/hogodc
The Design-spiration The moniker for Tom Brown’s tiki temple means “high taste” in the Caribbean. Instead of ticky-tacky thatched roofs and lit torches, expect a topless mermaid, a zombie Elvis tapestry and a lit arrow leading to Hawaiian diner food. “Hogo was inspired by the design philosophy of the original tiki bars—found art, the sense of the exotic and rum,” Brown says. Hogo’s communal concoction features bourbon, blackstrap rum, falernum, lime, brown sugar, Angostura bitters and ginger beer, topped with overproof rum, and ignited and served in a volcano bowl for two to four tropical tipple-loving guests. “Like Hogo, it’s fun, intimate and a little bit unexpected.”
The Drink Cherry Spiced Manhattan
The Den The St. Regis Bar, 923 16th St. NW, 202.638.2626, stregis.com/washingtondc
The Design-spiration The recently renovated lounge boasts muted neutral tones, distressed leather swivel barstools, silver nickel nailhead-studded tables, wooden herringbone floors and warming bronze details, as well as a rolling cart mixing up gin and tonics during the week and Bloody Marys on the weekend. Wine Director Brent Kroll’s Manhattan riff exudes the hotel lounge’s sumptuous yet subdued new vibe. He stirs Redemption rye with Allspice Dram, Dolin rouge and Angostura bitters, served up with brandied cherries. “With its deep burgundy color, the cherry spiced Manhattan is a perfect representation of the redesign, a modern twist on classic sophistication—much like the
drink itself,” he says.