The Tasting Panel magazine

February 2014

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106 / the tasting panel / february 2014 I n his role as Bar Director, Adam Bernbach heads up the cocktail programs at several uniquely different Washington, D.C. venues run by proprietor Mark Kuller and partner Chef Haidar Karoum: contemporary, wine-centric restaurant Proof, Spanish tapas and pintxos den Estadio and Southeast Asian-inluenced hotspot doi moi. Bernbach's latest venture is 2 Birds 1 Stone, the inviting cocktail bar underneath doi moi, where he offers a small, ever-changing list of classic and inspired libations. At 2 Birds 1 Stone, Bernbach set out to continue to serve guests the high quality of cocktails for which he is known. He and his staff also strive to give guests a memorable, personal experience. "We aspire to be as warm and welcoming as we can be," he says. "We succeed when we've been able to highlight this personality." At any given time, 2 Birds 1 Stone's list spans six drink selections, at least half of which are rotated weekly, and many are inspired by collaborations with colleagues. "Someone will often bring up a classic drink that I haven't thought of or considered previously," he explains. "We'll work it down and tweak it together, each bringing our different perspectives." Recently he's featured sips like the Savory Boulevardier, with oregano-infused bourbon, Campari and sweet vermouth; Let Thy Armies Be the Rocks and the Trees, with mezcal, Douglas ir eau de vie, Cardamaro and lemon; and the Ozark, with rye whiskey, Bonal Gentiane Quinquina and celery bitters. But not just the drinks are noteworthy; even the very printed menus at 2 Birds 1 Stone are unique. When Bernbach was the bar manager at nearby Bar Pilar a few years ago, his calligraphic, hand- designed menus were posted weekly on the bar's website so guests knew what they'd be drinking. Last year, he was inspired to expand on this concept. "The idea came about when I drew comic book instructions with an Old Fashioned kit that I gave Mark Kuller for his birthday." Kuller thought the hand-drawn menus would be a great addition to his upcom- ing bar. Thus, 2 Birds 1 Stone's weekly menus have taken the form of a graphic novel, with a new installment each week. Each one takes Bernbach three to six hours to create, and are inspired by anything from video games, to historic moments, to lazy afternoons. Though time-consuming, he also inds the process relaxing and therapeutic. "And guest response has been very positive, which makes it very validating." But Bernbach's overarching goal at 2 Birds 1 Stone—and at each location at which he runs the beverage program—is decidedly, and perhaps deceptively, simple. "I want to make excellent drinks, that is my ambition at this point," he admits. "I don't want anyone to think I'm clever." THE "5" LIST Adam Bernbach's Top Five Faves I can't overstate how much I respond to nice people. Bartenders who strive at length to make their guests happy. Great atmosphere, including light- ing and music. I love when I go to bars that have clearly thought about every detail. Interesting, high-quality spirit selections. A backbar that both relects more popular spirits with unique items, and relects the personal taste of the bar manager. Simple drinks. It's important for a drink to clearly communicate the attributes of its ingredients. Adam Bernbach's Top Pet Peeves Putting guests below number one on the priority list. I don't under- stand bartenders doing anything else when a guest doesn't have a drink or something else they may need. Kitchen sink cocktails. The more ingredients a drink has, the less it will taste like any of them. Lectures. As a guest, I dislike being told at length I don't know or need to know about something. I just want a drink. Clutter. I'm driven to distraction by things like crumpled napkins or unnecessary bottles on the back bar. Overly dark bars. 3 4 5 1 2 1 2 3 4 5 Adam Bernbach Bar Director, Proof, Estadio, doi moi and 2 Birds 1 Stone, Washington, D.C. Adam Bernbach at 2 Birds 1 Stone. Taking Inventory with. . . PHOTO: SCOTT SUCHMAN by Kelly A. Magyarics

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