Birthday DB3 Crawl in Pictures (Shaw)

As I mentioned in my last post, I celebrated my birthday with the district’s classiest bar crawl- the DB3. For the uninitiated, this is when you visit all 3 of Derek Brown’s bars (Mockingbird Hill, Southern Efficiency, and Eat the Rich) back to back.  I could gush about how much I love DB bars, but you’ve heard it all before. The lady took some bangin’ pics and I wanted to share. IMG_0379

We started at Mockingbird Hill: Ham Sampler, Sherry for her, El Cafecito for me.

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Then we skipped down the block to Eat The Rich. I feasted on oysters, the lady had hushpuppies. We had special happy hour cocktails. I also had one of the pitcher cocktails:

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We finished at Southern Efficiency with bourbon balls, an Old Fashioned for her, and some other delicious cocktail for me. At this point, you must forgive me for forgetting what it was.

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And as promised, they took excellent care of me. That is a complementary birthday shot of Four Roses, topped with bourbon ball. I think the look on my face in that picture says it all. Another fantastic night with our friends in Shaw!

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Lunch and Coffee at Mockingbird Hill (Shaw)

It is no secret that Mockingbird Hill is our absolute favorite bar in the city. She loves the sherry, I love the cocktails on tap, and we both love the friendly service. When they started their coffee and lunch services, I knew we had to get over there to try it out. I work half-way across the city and she works even further, so it was either dip out of work one day, or just wait until we had a weekday off. When the lady and I decided to take the entire day off before her sister’s evening bridal shower, we knew we had to fit in a trip to our favorite bar to check out the daytime offerings.

I ran some errands, we packed the car for our trip, and we were off. It felt weird to walk into the bar before noon, but I am not complaining! We sat down and perused the menu and started with drinks. I had been really curious about the Kenya Cola (Kieni coffee, sugar, bitters, soda water)  after seeing this article, so I decided on that. The idea of something tasting a like cola, but without the cloying sweetness (I stopped drinking soda several months ago, so it just tastes like pure syrup to me now) sounded so perfect. The lady went with the White Columbian (El Desarollo coffee, sugar, cream, egg white)

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Neither drink came quickly. There is a lot of work that goes into crafting these beverages. I see why they insist that you sit down and take your time. Both drinks were absolutely amazing. I was unsure of the Kenya Cola on first sip, but the next sip brought out the complex flavors of the coffee. I could had stood it being a touch sweeter, but it was still great.

Her drink was absolutely amazing. Sweet, creamy, foamy. It took everything in me to not drink all of hers. I almost got one for myself, but two coffee drinks at lunch time would have had me up all night. I will certainly be back for that one. I may even have to dip out for a long coffee break from work one day.

We also decided to grab lunch while we were there. I decided on the Tuna sandwich. I forgot to take a pic of the menu, and I don’t recall what else was in the tuna mixture. It was like a super tasty , high end tuna salad sandwich. As soon as I was finished with it, I wanted another one. So good!

 

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She had the lomo sandwich. It had lomo ham, bitter greens, pickled raisins, and some sort of aioli. It was salty and sweet and really delicious. She said she’d like to eat it every day.

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We also had the pickled snacks as a side. Different every time, always a great choice! Just a nice few bites.

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  • Favorite thing I had: My tuna sandwich and her beverage, the White Columbian. I’ve been craving both ever since.
  • Favorite thing she had:  Her drink and her lomo sandwich. She’s also been craving them. I’m really surprised we haven’t been back this week as much as we’ve both been craving everything.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: I’d like to try a coffee flight. I love coffee, but with lots of cream and sugar, so I think it’s time to start appreciating good coffee for what it is. I’d also like to try their other sandwich option. I think it had mushrooms? It was a veggie option.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): If we lived there, we’d just spend all our money at Mockingbird Hill. We’d be there every day. Most of the bartenders are starting to recognize us… can I just move in now?

The Derek Brown 3 (DB3)

Well, we finally succeeded in doing the Derek Brown Three (DB3). That is, hitting all 3 of Derek Brown’s bars on 7th St. in Shaw in one night. Saturday, when were were in Mockingbird Hill, our buddy bartender Adriana asked if we were going to do the DB3. I was confused and had no idea what she meant, but the lady figured it out. We weren’t able to on Saturday, but it offered me a new challenge! I always love a challenge.

We started at Mockingbird Hill to celebrate International Sherry Week / their first birthday. The lady went with the sherry they had on Happy Hour special and I went with the PX Sweet Tea. The bartender, Abby, was super chatty and told us about how Cobblers used to be one of the most popular cocktails in the 1880’s. She talked about how she really loved them and so I did her the favor and let her make me one. 🙂 It was really excellent. She caught me taking the pic of it for Instagram and joked that that’s how she judged the success of her cocktails- that people want to take pictures of them to put them on Instagram.

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We then made the move over to Southern Efficiency . I had heard about their Strawberry soda, white whiskey, and Campari drink that they had on tap. It was a must try. And it was delightful. A perfect hot weather beverage. We also ordered the Fried Pickle plate and the lady had a manhattan. The fried pickled veggies were fantastic. A perfect cornmeal batter and just pickled enough to taste that through the batter. The dipping sauce had a little kick. Delightful.

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And because we could, we ended at Eat The Rich. I thought that oysters would be a perfect way to end the evening. I ordered half a dozen of the oysters and a 3 Stars Lemon Peel and Citra Saison. The oysters were delicious and of course the beer was great. This was the first time we had been to Eat The Rich, and we both really liked the space. They also have more entrees than the other 2 bars, and so we’ve decided that we’ll definitely be getting dinner (or brunch!) on our next visit. We’ll also be trying the cocktails- they all sounded amazing.

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And that, my friends is how you spend $90 (but totally worth it) in one weeknight.  Everything was excellent and I’m well on my way to becoming a fanperson.

Weekend Round Up: Enjoying the Weather

The weather basically could not have been any more perfect this weekend, and we took full advantage of it and spent as much time as we possibly could outside.

Piola

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Friday after work, I hopped over the bridge to Rosslyn to meet the lady and her sister (who just moved here, I’m SO excited!), to scarf down some pizza at Piola. You all know how much I love pizza. We ordered Hawaiian and and Carbonara. I also ordered a Sgroppino Al Limone, which was basically a wine glass of vodka and lemon gelato. It was sort of like a tiny boozy milkshake. Tasty, but a bit thick to enjoy with pizza. The pizza was good! Not the best, but pretty good. The crust was nice and thin, not too heavy on the toppings. The best part- because it was happy hour, they were half price. We fed 3 people, with leftovers and a bev for $30, with tip. We will certainly be back for their bottomless brunch. Just all the pizza you can eat. Yeah, that’s my jam. 

Rosslyn Outdoor Film Festival

After dinner, we headed over to Gateway Park to grab a spot on the lawn and meet some friends for Office Space at the outdoor film festival. We always get there absurdly early, but it’s the best way to make sure you get a good spot. My advice is to make sure you have plenty of cozy, soft things. I am always over prepared, so I had a jacket, sweatshirt, blanket, sheet, and tarp. It was a little chilly, but even when it’s not, all those things will make for great pillows and padding from the ground. Because we’re getting old. I think next time we may picnic there beforehand. Maybe bring some cards? Before the movie they usually have some activities to occupy you while you wait.

 

On Saturday, we ended up bar hopping and spending the entire day outside (mostly) enjoying the perfect weather and accidentally drinking a lot. This is what living in DC is all about, right?

Nationals Game

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We had tickets for the Nats game and that was pretty much our only plan for the day. We were just going to take in the game then head home to do responsible adult stuff. Well, once you’re in the city, you might as well explore, right? We enjoyed the game and some sandwiches from G. Once it was clear that the Nats had this game in the bag- we headed out to beat the crowd. The lady had never been to Yards Park, so we strolled that direction. As we got closer, we noticed that there were bikes EVERYWHERE. Oh yes, it was Tour De Fat. Which I knew, but had totally forgotten about. We didn’t stick around long, even though it wasn’t too terribly crowded and could have been an enjoyable experience. That’s definitely something we’ll have to check out next year. Instead, we decided to head to U St. / Shaw and check out some things there.

Our initial idea was to check out Veritas. We had just had lunch, so a glass of wine and some small plates sounded perfect. Well, we got there and took a seat at the bar. It was clear it was still brunch, but no one paid us any attention. We weren’t in the mood for brunch, so we cut our losses and decided that this was not the place for us at this time. Maybe that’s more a post-work place for us. Better luck next time.

American Ice Co. 

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Instead, we headed over to American Ice Company. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too terribly crowded. We took a seat at a table in the outdoor area and perused the menu. I had heard about the nachos (Swachos) before, so we decided to give that a try. The pickled veggies on the menu also caught my eye. That and a couple of beers in a laid back environment was so perfect. We hung out there for quite some time, had a couple of beers and watched it fill up. Then, as it the case any time we end up within 5 blocks of Shaw, we decided that a trip to Mockingbird Hill was in order. We finished up our beers at American Ice but still had some time to kill. Where could we go and continue to drink outside and kill some time? Ah yes, El Rey. There was a pit stop there for one margarita, and then onto the DB3! (Derek Brown 3)

Mockingbird Hill

So, I know I’ve talked about how skeptical I was about the Derek Brown concepts.  Sherry and ham, what? Well, the lady and I have dropped our skepticism and officially decided that Mockingbird Hill is our favorite bar in the city. And for so many reasons. It seems like every time we go there, there’s always something new to discover. The lady is slowly exploring the world of sherry- and I’m really enjoying the cocktails on tap. Last time we were there about a month ago, we chatted up bartender Adriana. When we sat down this time, she immediately recognized us and remembered our names. Of course this makes you feel special and important and makes you feel like you belong there. The lady made such an awesome point while we were there- this is the kind of place that could so easily be a snooty, exclusive sort of bar, but it’s just not. The bartenders are friendly and willing to chat. You feel like you’re sitting down with friends.

I’ve also discovered my Drink Of the Summer. The PX Sherry Iced Tea on draft is one of the most amazing beverages I’ve ever tasted. It basically tastes like sweet tea. The southerner in me is so smitten. I was pretty sure that there was some simple syrup at play, and asked another one of the bartenders was it was. He said that actually, no, it was just a very sweet sherry- no simple syrup. He poured me a taste of the sherry and described the flavor profile to me. So perfect. I had 3.

I noticed that Derek Brown was in the bar that evening and geeked out a little bit. On the way back to my seat from the restroom, I caught Adriana’s attention and sort of whispered to her that I’d like to meet him. She made the intro and I was in! This man owns 4 of the most fantastic bars in the city and seemed more than happy to spend a couple minutes chatting with me. He was so friendly and gracious. I told him that I loved his bars and he mentioned sherry week and their one year anniversary to me. We will definitely be back this week to celebrate with them.

On the way to Mockingbird Hill, I texted an old friend of mine who lives in Bloomingdale. Luckily, she and her boyfriend were able to come out to meet us. We had a round or two of drinks and then decided it was time to move to the next place. They were meeting some friends at Dacha beer garden and invited us to come along.

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DACHA is somewhere we had been meaning to try for months and months. But any time we’d been past it, it was super crowded. I’m not one for elbowing my way to a bar, but after several drinks this particular day, I thought why not! If it was too crowded, we’d just stumble home. Well, we got there and while it was crowded, we were able to find a little spot to settle into. We made our way to the bar and I ordered the most giant raspberry beer for myself and a hefeweizen for the lady. They were huge and delicious.

During this time, my friend and I realized that we had been friends since like 2002 or 03 and talked about how awesome it was that we now lived in the same city and still hung out. It’s always really interesting to watch where life takes you and who follows a similar path as you. I have a few of those kinds of friends in DC. It’s so nice to have people here who understand Roanoke. We’re all here for similar reasons, we had bigger plans than Roanoke, but still love home.

Around 10-10:30, we decided that it was probably time to call it a night. We walked the few blocks from Dacha and hopped on the metro at Mt. Vernon Square and journeyed back to Alexandria.

 

We were going to brunch in the city on Sunday, but decided to stay close to home and recover instead. Cooking breakfast sounded really daunting, so we decided to tackle the few blocks to Buzz for a waffle and quiche instead. I really need someone to figure out the whole breakfast delivery thing, but in the meantime, the food from Buzz hit the spot. Since we had basically said “Screw responsibility” on Saturday, we spent most of the day catching up on all the stuff we had to do. We didn’t venture more than 2 miles from home and that was just fine with us. After dinner, we ended the evening hanging out in the courtyard with 6 of our other neighbors. (Hey guys!) It was a perfect end to the weekend.

It’s weekends like this that makes me realize how lucky I am to live here and have the friends that I do. This is a good life. Next weekend: PRIDE!!

 

Shaw’s Tavern (and District Flea) (DC)

We decided to jump headfirst into exploring everything about the District this year. Since starting this blog and building a social media profile around it, it’s almost impossible to miss hearing about an event that people are excited about. District Flea is one of those things I’d been hearing buzz about for a couple of weeks. Since it was supposed to be nice on opening day, we decided to check it out. I thought it might be best to get there as close to the 10am start time, just so we wouldn’t have to fight too large a crowd. That ended up being a pretty good plan, and despite it being breezy and chilly, it was an enjoyable time. My favorite tents were a couple of the furniture sellers. I also enjoyed the one vendor (I can’t remember her name) pretty close to the west gate, who did the neighborhood drawings. I’m hoping she’ll take our suggestion to do an Old Town map soon. Next time, I think we’ll take a closer look at the food vendors. They were in the shade and it got very windy as we got to them, so we moved quickly back into the sun.

It was a bit chilly for us to stick around too long, so our loop took us less time than expected. I had thought maybe we’d do lunch somewhere near by, but we found ourselves ready to move along before 11am. Most places in the area hadn’t opened for lunch or brunch yet. I Googled around, and luckily Shaw’s Tavern had opened at 9am.

My first impression of the space was that it was very cozy. Exposed brick, a giant chalk board. The music was good. It felt sort of like hanging out at a friends’ house. We sat at a tall table sort of in a corner-ish area downstairs. We ordered mimosas, but not bottomless, even though it was only $12. I ordered the Cornbread Waffle and she ordered the Mac n Cheese Skillet. Our server also sold me on bacon, even though I really didn’t need it. My waffle was nice and soft, with a slight sweetness. The strawberries were a very nice complement. The bacon wasn’t hot, but it was a nice chewy thick cut. Her mac and cheese… was a sight to be seen. Creamy with sausage, peppers, and two eggs on top. I was only able to have a couple of bites of it, but it was good. Very rich and cheesy. Perfect warm up on a chillier than expected day. The biscuits that came on the side were really good. I just can’t shake my southerner love of biscuits.

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This weekend definitely had me asking why we didn’t live in Shaw yet. (Trust me, we always have an eye out for places.) This is quickly becoming my favorite corner of the city.

  • Favorite thing I had: The cornbread waffle was different, and I liked it. The bacon was a nice thick cut and was very tasty.
  • Favorite thing she had: The Mac N Cheese. The mimosas were proportioned just right.
  • How was the service?: Maybe not always the most timely, but our server was fantastic. He treated us like we were regulars. Very familiar and casual.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: Probably a burger or pizza. I had a very, heavy savory breakfast, so I went for something on the sweet side for brunch. Oh, there was lamb biscuits and gravy that sounded really good, but too heavy at the time.
  • What makes this place stand out: The exposed brick and giant chalk board with the daily specials. The high tables. the prominent bar, the friendly servers and hostess. It’s a cozy place and I felt really comfortable here. The light was nice, and I just felt like I could call some friends over and hang out there all day.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): This feels like a neighborhood spot. If I lived in the area, I’d probably be there every couple of weeks.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): I had wanted to go over to Right Proper (now that it’s open for lunch!!) to have a beer or two, but we were absolutely stuffed and couldn’t consume another single thing.

Tonic Making At Mockingbird Hill

When I started this blog just a few weeks ago, it was mostly for my own record of our adventures in the city. My memory gets more and more terrible as I age, and there is just so much about DC that’s awesome, I wanted to make sure it was documented in some way. It’s also fun to share this city with others, so that was an added bonus of the blog being public. I get to share that which excites me! To keep from bombarding the audiences that I’ve curated with my own personal accounts (mostly so as not to annoy my friends if they’re not interested in my blog), I created a separate Twitter for the blog. This seemed like a natural extension of the blog for sharing with people.

In my first handful of tweets, I posted my review for Mockingbird Hill and mentioned them so that they might take notice. In that review, I talked about their apple / sage tonic in their Brigade G&T on draft, how I was still craving it, and how it inspired me to try to make my version of the tonic. They took notice and offered me an opportunity that I never thought this blog could bring me, at least not this early in the game. They invited me over to teach me how the tonic was made. It floored me that they would be so open and so willing to share a “secret recipe” with me! Sometimes this city can feel so exclusive. Everyone is so busy and important, and if you’re on the outside of that, you don’t matter. Instead, they invited me in.

I set up a time one afternoon with Timothy Burt of Mockingbird Hill and JP Fetherston of Southern Efficiency. When I got to the bar, Timothy had already peeled all the fruit involved and was in the middle of juicing what seemed like a zillion lemons. JP came over and sat down and told me the story of where he got the idea. Kegged cocktails was actually going to be its own venture, but DC laws are so restrictive about container size and liquor and distribution, that it’s just not feasible yet.  He also told me and all the tweaks that happened before they landed on that particular recipe. I was a little surprised, and never would have guessed a couple of the ingredients, so I know that my attempt without knowing the recipe would have been a total disappointment. He let me take a picture of the hand-written recipe, and I joked that I was going to steal it and open my own Gin and Tonic bar. (Not really) (ALSO, SOMEONE IN DC! PLEASE STEAL MY IDEA FOR A GIN AND TONIC BAR!) The tonic is actually created to complement the flavors in Green Hat original release gin, which it does way better than any store-bought tonic. I really, REALLY love Green Hat though, so I’m inclined to love anything it’s in! They go through about 1.5-2 sixtels of the stuff every week. One sixtel has SEVEN 750mL bottles of Green Hat, just to give you an idea of how many G&T’s that is.

We talked about how before they had the kitchen at Eat The Rich, he was making the tonic in his own kitchen and about how funky that smelled. I appreciated the warning and will definitely try to make sure I attempt to make mine on a day that I can open the windows. Once all the ingredients were prepped, we headed over to the kitchen and threw the pot of goodness on the stove. While in the kitchen, I noticed that they were in the process of smoking the cola for the white whiskey and smoked cola that they serve on tap at Southern Efficiency. It was so much fun to see them try to figure out the best way to get the most smoke into the cola. I felt like I had a backstage pass to the inner workings of the 3 bars. I didn’t stick around for the completion of the tonic because it had to be on the stove for a while and I sort of felt like I was keeping them from prepping for the evening, but after I left I just had so many ideas for different flavors of tonic to try on my own. Grapefruit and ginger? Who knows! We’ll see what I can come up with!

 

Mockingbird Hill (DC)

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The first time I went here was specifically to get a drink with a friend. We were both a little overwhelmed. Neither of us understood many of the words on the menu. The bartender was willing to explain, but we just weren’t feeling adventurous. I ordered the Brigade gin and sage/apple on tap, made with Green Hat gin. This drink alone was what has brought me back to this bar 2 other times. After the first time I had it, I craved it for weeks. I looked up how to make my own tonic syrup so I could duplicate it (I haven’t tried yet). My second time there was with my lady and we got a couple of cocktails made with sherry. The third time, the lady finally tried a glass of sherry and we got dessert. The Goat Cheese custard with honeycomb crumble was a perfect ending to an afternoon spent drinking cheap beer over at Nellie’s. Maybe the 4th time is a charm and we’ll really dive in?

  • Favorite thing I’ve had:  The Brigade gin and tonic (on draft!). I have a hard time ordering multiples at the $9 price point, but yum.
  • Favorite thing she had: The goat cheese custard dessert.
  •  Most interesting thing I want to try next time: I should try the ham… or the sherry. I think I’ll do a flight next time.
  • What makes this place stand out: Sherry and ham. No other bar in DC (that I know of?) has this.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Next month- 6 months.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Bistro Bohem, Satellite, Ivy and Coney.