The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2011

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Page 66 of 124

DC Drinking in the District THE TALENT AND INNOVATIVE CONCEPTS IN WASHINGTON, DC TODAY UNDISPUTEDLY RIVAL THE BAR SCENES OF LARGER AND MORE TRADITIONALLY BUZZ-WORTHY CITIES. WE RECENTLY CHECKED OUT A DUO OF SIP-WORTHY, TRIP-WORTHY SPOTS IN THE NATION’S CAPITAL by Kelly A. Magyarics Managing Partner Miles Gray (second from left) and his staff offer off-the-beaten-path wines and craft beers from all over the U.S. at his Atlas District hotspot, Smith Commons. dining room and public house Smith Commons offers approachable international cuisine, classic and modern cocktails, craft beers and off-the-beaten-path wines (Michigan sparkling wine, anyone?) on three levels in an historic building. The list of 28 beers and the same number of wines leans heavily on what management views as the most talented domestic producers, with a few inter- national selections for comparison’s sake. Thirteen libations on the cocktail menu—all priced at $10—offer up everything from a Pisco Sour to the Bourbon-, honey- and grape- fruit-based James Brown Derby. Most popular is the Felicity Watermelon Smith, with Ambhar Reposado Tequila, lime, ginger, water- melon and basil. “Our focus is multi-seasonal W cocktails that work well with food,” explains Managing Partner Miles Gray. “Fresh ingredients made in-house when possible, paired with great representations of the various categories of spirits.” Warmer weather will see the addition of a brunch menu, as well as the sight of guests enjoying a cold draft beer on the second level patio. “Smith Commons is designed to be a tree house for sorts for all people,” muses Gray. “Just a refined but casual hangout for the refined but casual Atlas District.” 64 / the tasting panel / april 201 1 ashington, DC’s Atlas Arts District will soon be the site of a retro transportation method not seen in the city for decades: the streetcar. It’s also home to a hotspot right on the upcoming H Street line. New Erik Holzherr shakes it up at Washington, DC’s Church & State. Erik Holzherr already manages popular DC bar Wisdom as well as that mecca of DIY mixology, Fruit Bat. He recently expanded the second floor of the latter with the opening of Church & State. The décor and atmosphere evoke a most holy vibe, from the dark woodwork, pews and stained glass windows, to the dimly lit, cozy nook complete with a confessional. The bar faithfully adheres to a reverent devotion of using only American products. “The resur- gence of the craft cocktail culture is no secret, but many people do not realize the cocktail’s completely American origins,” notes Holzherr. “We are a very young country with few outstanding traditions, so we need to be proud of this history and embrace it!” Any ingredient that can’t be sourced domestically is made in- house—including tonic, grenadine and some bitters. The permanent specialty cocktail list, dubbed The Bill of Rights, features ten drinks that, according to Holzherr, “all Americans have the God-given right to have made perfectly.” Rotating seasonal cocktails appear on the Seven Deadly Sins list. “I basically wanted to build a church to American cocktails and have a bit of fun with it,” admits Holzherr. As the bar’s tagline points out, “This is not a church, and DC is not a state.” PHOTO: MARIA HELENA CAREY PHOTO: DAKOTA FINE

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