With more than 75 participating restaurants and seven virtual events, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington‘s annual DC Cocktail Week offers something for everyone, even during a pandemic. From Monday, November 16 to Sunday, November 22, restaurants across the D.C. area will feature food and drink specials to highlight the diverse cocktail options available in and around the city.
Every restaurant has its own method for making the perfect food and drink pairing. At Lulu’s Winegarden in Shaw, the pairing was picked with simple flavors, fresh ingredients and takeout in mind. In their twist on a classic tequila and citrus drink, the Cilantro Paloma is paired with a rich, spicy cilantro-topped white queso and local tostadas for dipping.
“We wanted something bright and acidic to cut through those flavors, but also herbal to pair really well with it,” says Lulu’s Bar Manager Ben Bronstein. The Lulu’s special can be enjoyed at the restaurant for $25 per person, or as takeout for $35 per person. Takeout includes two servings of the Cilantro Paloma.
“Part of DC Cocktail Week is having these things available for takeout as well, which is normally a good thing to do, but especially right now with Covid-19,” Bronstein says. “The queso travels really well, so it’s something that whether you get it here in the restaurant or you take home, you’re going to enjoy.”
While takeout is one way to stay safe and enjoy the area’s drinks during Cocktail Week, many restaurants like The Royal in LeDroit Park have also upgraded their outdoor seating areas to accommodate guests. The Royal’s Mango Mai Tai paired with a citrus kale salad can be enjoyed for $25 in their newly winterized streatery.
“We have an entire covered structure outside: there are heat lamps, all the ordering is done digitally and we bring everything to you,” says The Royal’s bar manager, Alonzo Freeman. “Every time I come in, there is some new edition to the streatery.”
Freeman describes the Mango Mai Tai and the citrus kale salad as having many of the same flavors, but in different ways. Both feature mango, peanut and citrus flavors for a bright, lingering taste of summer. This special can also be taken home for $35 with two servings of the Mango Mai Tai.
Shilling Canning Company in Navy Yard puts the “D.C.” in DC Cocktail Week. This Mid-Atlantic restaurant with a focus on local and sustainable food and drink options features cocktails made with all local ingredients – liquor included.
“There are very few spaces in D.C. that truly support D.C. brands and D.C. produce,” says Jake Weinstein, Shilling’s beverage director. “When we make choices, especially during D.C. Cocktail Week, they should be choices that support the area.”
Shilling Canning Company is featuring a $35 three-course cocktail pairing and a $60 cocktail and pizza-for-two special on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The three-course cocktail pairing includes Midnight Apple, made with vodka, apple and cinnamon; Ramp Gibson, a martini-like drink that uses a foraged spring onion rather than an olive; and Drop the Beet, a hot cocktail with tequila, chocolate and beets.
The cocktail and pizza special features Shilling’s From Above and Below cocktail, made with tequila, beets and apples, and is paired with a mozzarella, tomato and basil pizza and a seasonal goat cheese and arugula pizza. All ingredients in both specials come from local farms, distilleries or Shilling’s own garden.
“I think that’s the whole point of DC Cocktail Week,” Weinstein says. “We support the community, we support the area, we support D.C. brands.”
In addition to the offerings at spots throughout the city, DC Cocktail Week has virtual events that are spread throughout the week. These are aimed toward providing a space for discussion, education and experiences centered around cocktails and zero-proof drinks from local restaurateurs and chefs to bartenders from around the world.
Lulu’s Winegarden: 1940 11th St. NW, DC; www.luluswinegarden.com; @luluswinedc
The Royal: 501 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.theroyaldc.com; @theroyal_dc
Shilling Canning Company: 360 Water St. SE, DC; www.shillingcanning.com; @shillingcanningcompany
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