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Posted at 3:04 PM ET, 01/22/2008

Big News From Behind the Bar

By Fritz Hahn

In a major shake up of Washington's mixology scene, Gina Chersevani of Rasika and Will Earls of Hudson have both parted ways with their employers in the last week.

Chersevani, whose inventive cocktails had landed her in the Wall Street Journal and Forbes Traveler as well as this blog and the Washington Post Weekend section, cites "irreconcilable differences" with the management of the well-reviewed Indian restaurant. Rasika owner Ashok Bajaj says while he's "disappointed" about the situation, it was unavoidable. Chersevani doesn't have any firm plans at this point, but I'll post an update when things are definite. In the meantime, Bajaj says that Rasika's drink list will be curated by Anne Marie Dick, who worked on the restaurant's original cocktail menu.

Though Earls made a name for himself crafting martinis and margaritas at Firefly, he had worked as general manager of Hudson since its October opening. At Hudson, responsibility for crafting drinks fell to John Hogan, who had worked for Hudson owner Alan Popovsky at Spy Lounge. Over time, Popovsky says, it became apparent that he and Earls "shared different goals" for the restaurant. Personally, I always got the feeling that Earls wanted to get back behind the bar. I'm eagerly waiting to hear where he lands next.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | January 22, 2008; 3:04 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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I (and many others that I will pass this on to) am devastated that Gina is no longer employed by Rasika! She was one of the staples (I am talking FOUNDATION), like any popular item on the restaurant's menu. She created most of the drinks on the menu and an atmosphere that made all of DC's "Who's Who", feel welcomed. I am talking about the infinite number of lawyers, business execs and lobbyists who just come to hang out, because of Gina. There are some who won't even stay if Gina isn't working! Now, these folks aren't necessarily the "Mayor of D.C. and his wife", the Congressmen/women from the Hill, or the people with the real certain "NAMES". I am talking about the people behind those people. . . the folks that get those people to pay attention to places like Rasika. So, to the "Powers-That-Be" at Rasika, don't try to be another NYC; don't think you are immune from obilvion. There are too many new, cool, hot-spots in DC that will steal your thunder. Just remember, everyone in DC is a V.I.P., including those who serve them. WE WANT GINA BACk. Rasika will not be the same without her bubbly personality and knowledge of the menu and bar. She was loyal to a business they threw her away on someone's restaurant-week's dissatisfafaction. How do you ask? Beause they couldn't get a table or drinks 45 mins BEFORE the restaurant opened. Rumor has it that Gina tried to accommodate the ill-speakers by letting them know that the drink they ordered would take some time prepare. Still, they slammed her and cost her her job. Clearly, they aren't true members of the DC restaurant elite, who know better than to get rid of a good thing. Go back to MD or VA (and if you're from D.C. -- even more shame on you). Furthermore, shame on Rasika's management and the owner for not realizing this. I guess, we will all have to go to Source or Proof for our meals AND good treatment.

Hey, Gina, why not take your fabulosity and DRINKS (which are copyrighted). Let me know if you know someone who can litigate this). There are always two sides to every story. Gina has hers. Who's gonna listen???

Cordially yours,

(NGF) Not Gina's Friend (just her doctor) She has no idea I've posted this situation for your comment;
Let's be clear, I don't expect to get her job back, but Rasjika needs Gina.

Posted by: champagnechic | January 23, 2008 1:24 AM | Report abuse

wow. big news indeed. Gina will be missed- she had such a presence at the bar, and always made me feel welcome, and she always had GREAT suggestions for dinner. i'm anxious to hear where she lands next.

Posted by: anon | January 23, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Gina will NOT be missed by those who weren't worthy of her attention. That category includes me and the friends I was with the first and last time I ever went to Rasika. I'll never know what bar crime we committed, but her treatment of us was rude and abusive, as it was to the servers lined up at the end of her bar waiting for her to make drinks for their tables. We were also treated to the free show of her loudly cursing her co-bartender in front of us. All in all no loss here.

Posted by: anonymous | January 23, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like 11:52 am had a bad experience based on one night, where Rasika presumably was packed.

I'm definitely going to miss Gina at Rasika. In my experience, she always went out of her way to make so many people feel welcome (regardless of who they were or how busy Rasika was) and introduced people to each other at the bar. I've met so many people who became regulars of Rasika just because of Gina. I'll definitely frequent whatever establishment she goes to next, as I am sure will countless others.

Posted by: anon | January 23, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Gina will be missed. She built the crowd and reason why you wanted to be there in the first place. So as for your "Bar Crime" if was probably being impatient, good luck with that in the future. PS next time you want to make a bold statement and pass judgment leave your name.

Posted by: Kelly | January 23, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I had dinner at Rasika just once and it was a fabulous experience due to Gina's expertise as well as kindness. I continued to go back just for the drinks and to see Gina. It is a big loss for Rasika but it will be someone else's gain. I will certainly go wherever Gina is.

Posted by: Tully | January 23, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

This is indeed sad news. Gina was the only reason I went to Rasika. All I know for sure is that I will definitely follow her to whatever lucky bar has her next.

Posted by: Missing Gina | January 23, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm shocked to read Gina is leaving. I often take clients and friends into Riska for the delectable food and cocktails but I keep coming back for the atmosphere. And Gina is the ringleader in this Penn Quarter hot spot. I can name countless restaurants in DC that serve great food but there is more to a dinning than what comes on a plate or is poured in a glass. Please keep us informed about Gina's next home.

Posted by: J M Lewis | January 23, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

The countless contributions and incredible talent that Gina brought to Rasika should be commended. She has pioneered many concepts over the years and I look forward to her continuing to do just that at her new spot. I personally will never step foot inside Rasika again and plan to inform others to do the same.

Posted by: K Duffy | January 23, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Gina's innovative flare for creating a unique cocktail menu (which gained recognition in its own rite) is topped only by her dynamic personality and ability to ensure patrons have an amazing experience. Whether in for a quick drink or dining experience, I have friends who were visiting from abroad who are still talking about the one of a kind drink menu as well as the genuine star treatment they received from Gina. Her knowledge and obvious love of what she does is something that is impossible to fulfill with a Help Wanted ad. Can't wait to find out where her next stop is, as she is most definitely moving onto bigger and better things!

Posted by: Smokey | January 23, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

One of the many reasons my boyfriend and I would trek from NYC to DC (other than to see my Louie) was to see Gina at Rasika. We were always anxious to see what her latest creations were at the bar. She was always introducing us to others at the bar and making us feel as though we were regulars. Moreover, she always had the perfect suggestions for dinner to pair with her innovative drink menu. My time in DC is always too time I'm there I will be trying the latest restaurant / bar where Gina is working and NOT returning back to Rasika. Keep us posted on Gina's latest adventure!

Posted by: M Duffy | January 23, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Gina's knowledge and passion for making delicious cocktails will be missed by those who continue to dine at Rasika (I will not be included in that group). It was always a wonderful experience seeing what was new on the drink menu and hearing Gina breakdown the cocktails for her patrons. Rasika who has gotten a lot of press surrounding Gina's accomplishments in the industry will regret letting her go. As always, one's loss is usually another's gain, and I wish Gina the best as she takes the next step in her career.

Posted by: J Ski | January 23, 2008 9:14 PM | Report abuse

I was lucky enough to have met Gina this past week right after she left Rasika. She is a great personality, and I can't wait to see where she lands. Whatever establishment is lucky enough to get her best be prepared for a huge influx in business!

Posted by: K | January 24, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

well there goes my reason for going to rasika. the food is great, but it won't be the same, or worth it, without the cocktails and gina!

Posted by: anon | January 24, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

That is sad news indeed!
Best wishes Gina!

Posted by: Digital City Kiosks | January 24, 2008 7:03 PM | Report abuse

This is Bananas! Rasika without Gina is just not half as attractive or welcoming. Her warm personality, hospitality, and talent behind the bar were the reasons I've frequented the place so often in the past. I'll miss her and hope that she finds new digs in the very close vicinity, very, very soon!

Posted by: Patty Cakes | January 24, 2008 10:38 PM | Report abuse

I love Gina..however I've known Ann Marie for a few months now. No one will ever quite compare to Gina, but if there is one to compete, Ann Marie is it. I followed her out to Ashok's restaurant, Bardeo. She started an amazing wine cocktail list for a wine bar. Anyone who can turn wine into tails gets my props. Gina was an inspiration, but no matter what the task, hospitality, is their job, you must achieve that first. Hospitality is the key of the business treat it with respect... love it or leave it...

Posted by: charmia | January 25, 2008 2:46 AM | Report abuse

No help wanted ads needed, if you know Ann Marie you know cocktails, taught by one of the best, Gina Chersavani.

Posted by: katharinerara | January 25, 2008 2:58 AM | Report abuse

Gina is not merely a bartender. She's an artist. With a martini glass as her canvas she skillfully transforms her liquid media into works of art that are enjoyed as much for their aesthetic qualities as for their taste (And, for some, for their ability to pack a punch).

Her talented ability to blend art and drink are as unique as they are exceptional. Having Gina behind the bar affords a level of exposure that an establishment otherwise would not have. From the Washingtonian to the Washington Post to the Wall Street Journal, prominent publications have shined a bright spotlight on Rasika not for being a trendy restaurant with exceptional food -- dozens of places fit that bill -- but for having a talented, knowledgeable artist serving up unique creations for her ever expanding band of loyal followers. For that, Rasika owes her a debt of gratitude.

Posted by: Joe P | January 25, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

went to Rasika last night.. was barked at by the lady behind the bar and served a half-empty martini with ice chunks in it. service was inattentive and impersonal... oyamel, proof, the source anyone?

Posted by: sad times | January 26, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

No Gina? What am I supposed to do now? Who's going to feed me infused bourbon? Who's going to listen to my complaints about the 'bridge and tunnel' crowd that invades every restaurant week? Rasika will continue to have great food and ambiance. But I think many of us bar regulars will come much less often.

Posted by: Jon | January 26, 2008 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Good riddance to Gina! One of the main characteristics a bartender should have the ability to be friendly and serve the needs of her customers....this was way beyond her capabilities. Even if she was nice one night the next night was a coin toss to get good service. More than that, no customer cost Gina her job, she lost her own job. Any bar that is thinking of hiring should be aware of her ego, attitude, and overall lack of class....and did I mention eye rolling, cursing, and poor demeanor. All of these factors could contribute to a reduction in business. Hopefully the next time I see her she'll be slinging drinks at Tom Tom.

Posted by: arlo h. brown | January 26, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

11:52 am on the 23rd and the previous post are clearly products of Raskia's damage control. Anyone that even references Tom Tom isn't exactly someone's word I would take. Gina will be missed and Raskia will sure as hell feel it.

Posted by: Graeme | January 27, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

There are no winners here. Rasika has lost its star attraction and Gina has lost the classy venue where she dazzled us with her extraordinary talent. I am in mourning for the immeasurable loss to the Penn Quarter bar scene.

Posted by: Scoot Ferrari | January 28, 2008 7:58 AM | Report abuse

I went to Rasika's bar a month ago specifically because I had been hearing such great things about Gina. She absolutely dazzled me with her service and the drink she made me. It was such a pretty drink that I even took a picture of it. I'm just glad I made it in there before she left. Too bad for Rasika!

Posted by: citygirldc | January 28, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Gina's been a star everywhere she's been. And she's been around, which is why she's good at what she does and why she knows everyone. The sad fact about the restaurant industry is that there is no such thing as a sure gig. You are ultimately working in a system that is predicated on catering to the whims of a sometimes childishly demanding public. Especially in Washington.

But if you're lucky enough to be talented and creative and have a little moxie (like she does), you'll land on your feet every time (like she does).

Gina's a tough cookie. She wouldn't be in this business if she wasn't. So don't go crying for her, or taking it out on Rasika. This city is full of bad management decisions. If we held a grudge on every single one, we'd all be sitting at home with our tv trays every night. Hang tight and use all this energy to support her whenever and whereever she lands.

Posted by: Greg | January 30, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

She's at EatBar:

Posted by: worley | February 1, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: mad mugs | February 25, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: cingular code free ringtone | February 26, 2008 8:05 PM | Report abuse

How funny that so many of Gina's admirers will now have to cross that hated bridge or tunnel to enjoy her skills. You would think such "sophisticated" commenters could suspend their pettiness for a small time in order to support a friend. I wonder if their self-importance (that no bridge or tunnel can be blamed for) will allow them to make the long, hard trip to VA.

Best of luck at Eat Bar, Gina. Your talent will serve them (and those of us who are happy to cross the bridges and tunnels without contempt) well.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 8, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

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