Dram & Grain (DC)

I had been hearing some buzz about Dram & Grain for a couple of months now. The more I heard, the more I wanted to try it. I really love the speakeasy concept because I prefer a less crowded, quieter bar. I like to be able to grab a seat at the bar and chat up the bartender, rather than having to elbow my way through a crowd and yell over loud music and drunk people. So, I found the “secret” phone number and texted for a reservation. It took 6 days for them to text me back, and when they did, their next available spot didn’t work for us. So, I picked the next totally open Friday we had and requested reservations for that day. They texted back a couple of weeks later, a week before the date I requested. We took the 7pm seating, because we’re old ladies, and we were all set. IMG_2733 I have to admit, I was a bit nervous. With the talk of the one vodka drink on the menu being the laughable “Training Wheels,” that should not be ordered. I’m not big on drinks that taste strongly of the liquor that make them. Though, I should have known that Dram and Grain would take care of me. We walked into Jack Rose and told them we were there for Dram and Grain. They asked us to stand in the front of the dining room and that they’d take us down shortly. So, when the time came, they took us all the way to the back of the restaurant, around a corner, down some stairs and through a locked door. We were seated in 2 of the 6 seats at the small bar and we were greeted with their welcome punch. A bright, lemony, floral starter. I don’t recall which liquor they said was in it, but I think it was basically, lemon peel muddled in sugar over several hours, lemon juice, and a rum, maybe? It was a perfect starter. IMG_2725 Seatings are only 90 minutes long, so we got right to ordering drinks. I went for the Airmail first. Rum, honey, lime, sparkling wine. You guys, this was one of the best drinks I’ve ever had in my life. I can’t even describe it. It was just delicious. I would have ordered them all night had I not had so much other new stuff to try. IMG_2727 The lady went with the Ode to Omaha. Rum, strawberry cinnamon syrup, bitters, hickory smoke. This one is served in a corked orb with hickory smoke in it. This isn’t one I expected to like, but the flavors were so balanced, and the strawberry cinnamon syrup complemented the smokey flavor just perfectly. It wasn’t overly smokey, just perfect. And fun. IMG_2736IMG_2737 For the second round, I went with the Gordon Bombay’s Downfall. Anaheim pepper infused mezcal, honeydew, lime, agave nectar syrup. This one was surprisingly light and fresh. I expected it to be a little more forward, but the honeydew was a good balance to the mezcal. The pepper gave just a little kick and the mezcal gave a touch of smoke. The flavors were so layered and complex. IMG_2729 The lady went with the Maiden Voyage. Rye, cognac, colin rouge, with an ice cube made out of benedictine, absinthe, Peychaud’s, and Angostura. So, it started as a Sazerac and as the ice cube melted, it turned into a Vieux Carre. This one really tasted like liquor, so it wasn’t my cup of tea, but she loved it. The idea of a cocktail that changes while you drink it is so unique and fun. The lady said she could tell when it changed, but that there was no time in the middle when it wasn’t delicious. This was also the drink that took the quiet little lady to giggly drunk, sooo watch out for this one. IMG_2740 Since we still had a little bit of time, I decided to keep going and ordered the Hoppin Chihuahua. Corzo silver, lemon, grapefruit, egg white, and hops bitters spray. I expected to like this one just a little bit more than I did, but it was just a touch too bitter for me. The hops bitters spray really hung onto the foam from the egg white. Not bad, but not my favorite. IMG_2732 Overall, this was a one of a kind experience. We ended up spending $100 on 5 drinks plus tip and felt like it was absolutely worth it. I’m always so afraid that small places like this are going to be exclusive and snooty, but the bartenders were super nice guys who just wanted to make us delightful, high quality drinks, and tell us about the recipes. We can’t wait to go back.

  • Favorite thing I had: It’s between the Airmail and Gordon Bombay’s Downfall. I’d order either one of them again.
  • Favorite thing she had: The Ode to Omaha, but said both of hers were some of the best drinks she’s ever had.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: Anything. All the drinks I had were so good, I’d trust anything on the menu or off. Next time I’ll have them make me a drink.
  • What makes this place stand out: It’s a true speakeasy! You make a reservation by texting a secret number, you walk in and wait to be taken downstairs at Jack Rose, where they lead you through a locked door and into a tiny, dark bar with a sliding door. It felt so exclusive. And since the bar was small and it wasn’t too crowded, we were able to chat with the bartenders the whole time.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): We would have gone back the very next night had reservations not been needed so far in advance.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): We walked just around the corner to Pleasant Pops to sober up and get pops. We sat down at a table outside as they were closing and one of the employees brought out a loaf of bread and gave it to us because we were such “snappy dressers.” The bread made some delicious post-drinking toast when we got home!