Just the Bottle

One woman's adventure in beer, food, wine and spirits

Bombay Sapphire World's Most Imaginative Bartender

Bombay Sapphire World's Most Imaginative Bartender is a global mixology competition with the 2014 finals taking place in Las Vegas.  The Washington, DC portion took place at Jack Rose and was partially sponsored by the US Bartender's Guild DC Chapter.  The judges were all knowledgeable people who have great careers in industry.

Each cocktail highlighted a different element of the gin as well as each individual bartender's creativity.  Trevor Fyre, Beverage Director, Jack Rose was crowned the winner with his cocktail - "The Den of the Night".

The Den of the Night

  • 2 parts BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Gin
  • 1 part Honeysuckle Rosemary Syrup
  • 0.75 part Clarified Lemon and Black Peppercorn Juice
  • 2 dashes House-Made Hop and Grapefruit Bitters
  • House Made Amer Picon Rinse
  • 1 Edible Honeysuckle Petal

Rinse a chilled martini glass with house made Amer Picon. Combine first four ingredients in a shaker filled with ice and shake. Double strain into chilled, Amer Picon rinsed martini glass. Garnish with floating edible honeysuckle petal.

Mama said knock you out

Don’t call it a comeback…

I was lucky enough to win a dinner at Oyamel from a Facebook contest. Friends and co-workers have made fun of me saying I have good luck. I don’t think that’s the case considering I was unemployed/underemployed for about 3 years. It’s more at some point things have to stop coming up Milhouse and come up Christina.

I started off the evening with an AMAZING cocktail in the bar. I ordered the sagrado corazon and it did not disappoint. It had hibiscus ice (say what) with toasted coriander and cilantro. I met Bonard Molina of Mayalen. They import and distribute the amazing tequila (Tequila Real) and mezcal (Banhez Mezcal) that we had paired with our dinner.

Bonard is an amazing person who like so many others is pursuing his passion. He works a regular gig to pay the bills and support his family while his import business blossoms. I was lucky enough to meet his mom (ADORABLE), sisters (they are also part of his business) and brand ambassador. The brand ambassador is a great guy who was wearing an ironic shirt to dinner. The ironic shirt was one that I actually own too.

The dinner had an appetizer, four courses and a dessert. Each course contained two to three small plates accompanying the course. We started with the Banhez Limited Edition: Oaxacan Fruit. It was a great starting point with slightly smoky notes, but a great fruity element and smoothness.

Throughout the dinner, we were presented with a history of the spirits, stories of the farmers in Mexico as well as a discussion of the tasting notes. Bonard and his company focus on not just obtaining a great product, but working with farm cooperatives to ensure fairness. They brought the head of one of the farming cooperatives in to talk about his passion, harvest and more. I asked about the inheritance law as I was curious about farm lands. He informed me that many young people have left the area to seek employment either in America or a larger urban area like Mexico City. If they are around, land goes to the male in the family. I was kind of taken aback as I knew that was common practice in many other cultures, but didn’t think that was the case in Mexico.

We started with the Tequila Real Silver, which was very clean and smooth. It paired well with the shrimp and tacos with mushrooms.

We moved onto a delicious raw beef dish, oysters and salad. It was paired with Banhez Espadin/Madrecuixe Blend. This was my favorite. It combined a great smoky element especially on the finish with fruit flavors and a salty element. It made perfect sense with the oysters.

We moved onto the baby squid (BABIES) and pork loin paired with Tequila Real Anejo. As they explained,there are various aging periods for tequila. Anejo is aged a minimum of one year, but less than three years in small oak barrels. Barrel aging when done right, really adds value and maturity to your product. It had this great smoothness with caramel and spiced notes from the aging.

We moved onto lamb chops and a rice dish with corn truffles, queso fresco and epazote herb oil paired with the Banhez Tobala. The Banhez Tobala had an amazing nose with great spice notes like baker’s spice flavors.

As the dinner took longer than expected it was at this time Man Friend was done. It was about 10:30pm so I can see wanting to go home. Anyways, I thanked our generous hosts and we sprinted to the metro.

I thought I told you that I won't stop

Let’s recap more of my fun adventures in food, wine and merriment. 

Last week I had a DC type day. I met friends for a Ladies DC networking happy hour at Sushiko Chevy Chase. It was a great time with delicious sushi and cocktails. Bianca who blogs at DC Daybook and is the Director of Social Media for Ladies DC took many pictures.  She left early as did French Twist and I of course joined them. We headed to the Embassy of Italy for a Wigs of Hollywood retrospective. 

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Why hello there Jane Fonda’s costume from Barbarella. 

We enjoyed wine, mingled with guests and enjoyed the exhibit. By the way, this was all free. FREE. We ran into another friend and moved on to another event.

We ended the night at Mari Vanna for the Blogger Scene Happy Hour. It was a great time networking with many other female bloggers in the DC area. I of course convinced our group to do a round of horseradish infused vodka shots, which are amazing. There was heat from the spice especially on the finish, but the alcohol was very smooth. 

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Our very attractive bartender was originally from Romania and kept Romanian money in his wallet. One of my friends and I ended up closing down the third floor and securing the special keys. 

I volunteered at every Heart’s Delight event (April 23rd, May 1st and May 4th). The May 1st event was on the rooftop at Charlie Palmer and was again amazing. There were great views of the Capitol, amazing food and staff. Heart’s Delight staff were able to secure Harlan Estate at a table with Pluribus being poured.

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At the Saturday Heart’s Delight event, I volunteered in the Bordeaux Seminar. They did at least four flights of amazing wine with the cheateau owners and directors themselves speaking about what everyone was tasting and going into the history of each chateau.

Mostly everyone who attended were lovely people. I was surprised that some were not as passionate about wine as I would have expected. Occasionally certain guests would behave in an unbecoming way…but that’s life. There are people who have manners and know how to speak to fellow human beings and there are people who don’t. It’s not about money or education, it’s about being able to communicate. 

One person who was not a guest was quite snarky himself every time I had to deal with him. At one point I informed him that a guest had asked a volunteer if we would be starting promptly at 4:00pm. His response was “definitely maybe”. I responded “thank you” with a smile and began to walk away. He immediately snapped, “did you hear me?!”. I answered yes. He then asked, “what did I say?”. I replied “definitely maybe”. 

I would never be able to handle that level of snark and disdain from a supervisor on a regular basis. 

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A picture of the Bordeaux Seminar before it began.

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Heart’s Delight main event was well attended, decorated with great auction pieces, wine, food and more. I ran into the fabulous JP Caceres as he was making the cocktail magic happen.

I jumped in a cab and ran to a friend’s bachelorette party that night. We started off with an amazing meal at Pearl Oyster Dive Palace. They are seriously on point. The food was amazing and the cocktails were perfect. Our server indulged us by putting on a feather boa. He kept on the boa the whole time we were there. I mean…that’s serious dedication to our absurdity and I love it. One of our diners had food intolerances and the staff made sure every one of her needs was met. 

Our group shared a plate of raw oysters and I ordered a plate of hot oysters - Tchoupitoula (Oyster Confit, Blue Crab, Tasso, Roasted Corn). If you go, order tchoupitoula as it will blow your mind. 

My friend and I shared pork cheeks, mussels and french fries. A tiny friend ordered a giant steak. Really you can’t go wrong with anything there.

I was forced to go to Vegas Lounge where we became quickly surrounded by 22 year old students from Georgetown. The band was pretty solid and played a good amount of Motown. We left there to go to one of my favorite spots - Cod Mother. It’s divey, fun with a crazy owner who I love. We did a round of some sort of bomb shot and the bride to be was done.

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We also convinced several guys at Cod Mother to wear the boa. It was a badge of honor.

Wines of Portugal is touring the United States with multiple trade and consumer tastings. I hit up the consumer tasting, which shockingly was kinda insane. I wish there was a way to educate consumers more and allow them to enjoy the wine without it turning into madness. There were many great wines and there was an opportunity to learn more about the 250+ varietals in Portugal, but I am not sure how many people left with that information. 

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This guy is a saint. He was pouring several amazing vintages of his port and tried to really explain the process to guests. They had him placed near a very loud singer. 

I was lucky enough to attend two recent trade tastings Alto Adige Wines Grand Tasting Tour and Symington Family Estates.

Alto Adige is increasing in popularity, but will still need time. Just as when I spoke with a gentleman regarding port from Symington Family Estates, it may be easier to introduce people who are dining out. That requires a well educated staff and a great floor sommelier. I think my favorites from the Alto Adige were the Müller Thurgau. I really enjoyed  Müller Thurgau Valle Isarco 2012 which was dry, full with great aromatics.

Symington Family Estates seminar and tasting blew my mind. The seminar was incredibly informative, but the speakers did not drone on or overwhelm the attendees.

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The 2011 Vintage was quite tasty NOW and can be aged for many, many, many years. My favorite that I would love to have now and think will age well is the Warre’s 2011 Vintage Port. It was very floral, smooth and luscious. Texture in food and wine is very important to me.

That evening Girl Meets Glass, Organic Mixologist and I also attended a Wines of Morellino di Scansano DOCG tasting and seminar led by Jay Youmans,MW at Capital Wine School. This was a free event that was open to the public. We learned a great deal more about the wine and discussed the tasting notes.

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We took our party to Range and ate our faces off. The everything mashed potatoes are really quite yummy. 

Afterwards because I was hanging with a bad idea bear we continued to Industry Night at Graffiato. It was quite fun, but I was a little disappointed at not seeing as many people that work in the industry as I would have thought. 

Food, cocktails, staff everything was just spectacular. If you can take a bunch of people slamming your place for free food and cheap drinks while you serve up amazing quality, you rock.

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Look at that bad idea bear. 

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Can you believe Chef Isabella wasn’t drinking that night?! Of all nights not to drink…I should have made him do a shot.

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I wonder if Chef Tiffany was also hung over yesterday. I may have forced multiple shots of Jameison upon her. Listen…this woman keeps me filled with donuty goodness. Seriously, visit Church Key or Birch & Barley and try one of her amazing desserts she created or hell that bread board with the amazing pretzels. Go to Buzz Bakery and buy some amazing pastries or desserts. Go to GBD and eat your face off and try a beer pairing with your fried chicken or donuts. Tell me you wouldn’t want to get her drunk and possibly watch her drunk bake you some goodness because that’s my eventual goal.

Why yes I would like some free gin, please and thank you

Jim Ryan, Hendrick’s Brand Ambassador and all around lovely fellow, is touring with Hendrick’s presenting at the Hendrick’s Cocktail Academy. On Wednesday, March 20th they held two sessions at 918 F Street (LivingSocial) and two sessions at the Gin Joint on Thursday, March 21st. I attended only the 918 F Street session at 8:00pm because I was slightly hung over and exhausted from all the fun.

Before the cocktail academy, I assisted my boss at an intergovernmental event at the Mayor’s pressroom celebrating developmental disabilities awareness month. It was well attended with Mayor Gray and Councilmember Graham both speaking about the importance of respect and opportunities for people with disabilities.

After my work event, I found out that Taylor Gourmet’s new Chinatown location was offering free hoagies between 6:00pm-7:00pm. I quickly sprinted to Taylor and tweeted the manager that I was en route. When I showed up, the manager was slightly scared, but seemed impressed with my enthusiasm. I really didn’t care since I got my free delicious sandwich. I took it to Iron Horse to have some delightful happy hour beers. I went with the Three Stars Brewery peppercorn saison and Three Head Brewing Loopy Oatmeal Red. The saison paired very well with the garlic and arugula in my hoagie.

Afterwards, I proceeded to 918 F Street and checked in. Staff at the venue are always polite and knowledgeable. The young women working the event had these amazing Hendrick’s inspired outfits with tiny hats. I wanted one of the tiny hats to recreate In Living Color’s Men on Film - two snaps around the world.

That’s the view downstairs in the Speakeasy as we waited upstairs. It was a good sign that most everyone who attended the earlier session was pretty drunk.

My merry crew enjoying a cocktail before the event started. We each were greeted with a gin and tonic.

Each person sat at a place setting that had everything we would need to make three fabulous cocktails.

Jim presented briefly on the history of Hendricks, types of stills and flavors.

Next we made our first cocktail. The first cocktail had St. Germain Elderflower liquer, Hendrick’s, Club soda, tons of ice and a tall cucumber slice. This was my favorite as I love almost any cocktail that involves St. Germain. It was very refreshing and the elderflower brought out more of the aromatics without overpowering the gin.

Next cocktail was some sort of version of a lemonade. It was incredibly tart with sweetness on the finish. I enjoyed it, but I found it overpowered the gin.

We ended with some sort of punch that involved bitters, gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and tea. I think we were offered a sweet tea that made our punch taste more like a Long Island Iced Tea.

It was a really wonderful event that was completely FREE. It can be annoying at times, but signing up with various companies can really provide you with interesting events. One of my friends in the picture above and I attended a Balvenie tasting that was spectacular and a Guinness tasting.