The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2017

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Page 48 of 116

F rom casual, brew-centric Republic to the crisp white wine–heavy list at BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant, all nine concepts of Black Restaurant Group tout a unique bever- age focus. But it's TILT that most excites Cocktail Director George Sault. "It's definitely my baby and the lab where I develop all my cocktails," he says. "It's a very eclectic and fun room, and the cocktail menu follows that crazy and eclectic way." The idea of a bar within a bar (TILT is inside craft cocktail den Black Jack) decorated like the interior of a pinball machine was a hard sell to Jeff Black, Chef and Co-Owner of the Bethesda, Maryland–based restaurant group. Sault admits that while most of the crew was not on board at first, the gamble paid off. Super quaffable sips like the Miss Vixen—with elderflower, Aperol, Campari, and lemon—are joined by quirkier options like PNBL WZRD, where peanut butter–washed Deep Eddy Vodka is topped with lemon and a Cabernet float. All look striking on the low-lit bar top crafted from the back glass of different pinball machines. Black Restaurant Group's empire launched two decades ago with the opening of Addie's, which was named for Jeff Black's grandmother. The flagship closed a few years ago when it outgrew its space in Rockville, but it recently reopened in Park Potomac; the new location has the same homey feel, as well as old menu favorites like mus- sels steamed in garlic and white wine, build-your-own seafood towers, and tipples inspired by Addie herself. Sault created both the Watermelon Addie, a cool combo of watermelon juice (her favorite), cachaça, maraschino, and lemon served over crushed ice, and the 1909, with clarified lime juice, vodka, and elderflower, as homages. (Ironically, she was a teetotaler.) Black Restaurant Group's Beverage Director Josh Pauley has witnessed a period of evolution in the city's culinary scene during his eight years with Black Restaurant Group. Its first four spots drew in a neighborhood clientele, but he says it was the opening of Pearl Dive Oyster Palace on the just-emerging 14th Street that prompted the addition of the company's first cocktail program. Now, just as you can savor the juiciest, wood- fired heritage local veal chop from Chapel Hill Farms Randall Lineback at Black's Bar & Kitchen or whole bran- zino at BlackSalt, you can bank on the fact that the contents of your glass will be equally memorable. Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits, and lifestyle writer and wine educator in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website,, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics. Addie's opened 20 years ago and is named after Co-Owner Jeff Black's grandmother. Bet on Black BLACK RESTAURANT GROUP'S DIVERSE OFFERINGS PIQUE THE PALATES OF WASHINGTONIANS by Kelly Magyarics, DWS George Sault is the Cocktail Director for Black Restaurant Group. TILT—a bar within Black Restaurant Group's cocktail den Black Jack—is decorated to look like the interior of a pinball machine. PHOTO: KEN WYNER PHOTO COURTESY OF BLACK RESTAURANT GROUP PHOTO COURTESY OF BLACK RESTAURANT GROUP 48  /  the tasting panel  /  november 2017 RESTAURANT SPOTLIGHT

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