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champagne

The Otter

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A friend of mine is doing a bit of wedding planning and asked for my thoughts on a cocktail to serve to her guests. She wanted to name the drink after her dog, who she described as bubbly, brown, and sweet. Not surprisingly, chocolate and champagne had popped into her mind.  Well, when someone else has done 90% of the work for you, there is no point in overdoing it. The best cocktails are the simple ones.

The Otter

1 glass of sparkling rose
1 sugar cube
3-5 dashes of Aztec chocolate bitters (to taste)

Drop sugar cube into the bottom of a Champagne glass. Coat/drown the cube in chocolate bitters. Pour sparkling rose over cube and bitters. You can play with the presentation with some chocolate syrup and/or powdered sugar on the glass.

The Gibson: Quality Cocktails in the U Street Corridor

My wife and kids headed out of town to visit family a little while ago, leaving me with 6 days of quality bachelor time. My first order of business was a good cocktail — I mean a good cocktail. After asking around and considering some options, I decided that The Gibson was the place to go. The drinks did not disappoint and my friends and I had a very enjoyable evening, even if The Gibson is guilty of some of the pretensions of many quality bars these days.

Lets get my minor hang-ups out of the way. News flash: Prohibition has been repealed. You are not a speakeasy. Accordingly, your website can contain more than a few old pictures with your contact information. Also, you can put a noticeable sign over your door stating the name of your establishment. I am not saying we have to put golden arches up there, but you can subtly mark your territory. Again, The Gibson is not alone here. For example, I also love me some PX, and I appreciate that they put a bit more information on their website, but I can do without the blue light marking the spot — a small sign will be sufficient. These are personal dislikes and are simply a matter of taste, but I feel better now that I have gotten them off of my chest.

That said, once inside, The Gibson is a good looking bar with a good atmosphere. It’s a bit dark and the music was a bit loud to my taste, but no one else in my party seemed to share these concerns. The service staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and the drink menu is comprehensive. Most importantly, The Gibson passed my biggest test — I gave them a general idea of what I like in a cocktail and told them to bring me something I would love . . . and they did.

That first drink was a Boomerang, consisting of rye, Dolin Dry, homemade Swedish Punsch, a bit of simple syrup, and dashes of Angostura Bitters and lemon juice. Exactly what I wanted — not to dry, not too sweet, with a bit of a tart kick. The staff nailed it on the first try.

After our first round, the six of us decided to order a pitcher of The Gibson’s Seasonal Punch for the table. We were six people with very different tastes, but the punch was roundly praised. Made by mixing apple brandy, rum, pineapple, syrup, whiskey, and Champagne, the punch was sweet but not cloying and light on the palate. It was the perfect end to the evening.

If you need a great cocktail, The Gibson should be high on your list of places to go in downtown D.C. The drinks and the knowledgeable staff make it worth paying a couple of extra bucks. Make reservations well in advance or prepare for late night (or early morning). Just make sure you don’t walk past the unmarked black door when you arrive.

The Gibson
2009 14th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 232-2156
Appx. $12 per drink