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Posted at 3:52 PM ET, 01/ 1/2009

Toasting the New Year

By Anne Kenderdine

In the Washington bar scene, 2008 was one of the best years for cocktails that I can remember. If you're looking for a great way to raise a glass to 2009, here's a list of the most memorable cocktails I've tasted over the past 12 months, many of which are still available.

Salad Days Sour at the Gibson
Smooth, creamy, slightly fruity -- the Salad Days Sour takes a celery-infused pisco and adds celery bitters and aromatic burnt cinnamon to the frothy mix. It's hard to want only one.

Dawn Over Manhattan at Cork
Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey, Antica Formula Carpano vermouth, absinthe, whiskey bitters and a large blood orange slice (which gives the drink its name). The absinthe's anise only adds to a top-shelf manhattan that gets better as you drink it.

The Black-Pepper Rickey at Central Michel Richard
Awarded first place in the D.C. Craft Bartenders Guild's Rickey Contest, and it's easy to see why: black pepper adds a sharp, refreshing contrast to the gin, lime juice and soda. (This cocktail is no longer on the menu, but Justin Guthrie has several other concoctions worth trying on his new list, including an excellent rum runner)

Aviation Gin and Fever Tree Bitter Lemon at New Heights
The most perfectly balanced gin and tonic I've ever tasted.

The Darkside at Bar Pilar's Cocktail Sessions
One of the reasons I love sampling Adam Bernbach's creations is because he can take ingredients I never would think to use in a cocktail and turn them into something amazing. Take the Darkside: The spicy, herbal Barolo Chinato wine from Italy, dry Plymouth gin, bitters and a handful of cherries steeped in spicy brandy. The resulting drink brims with character.

The Sherlock Holmes at PX
We all know about coffee-based winter warmers -- usually of the Irish variety -- but the Sherlock Holmes is my favorite new tea-based cocktail: dark, smoky Lapsang Souchong tea, sweet, peaty Laphroaig scotch and lemon syrup. Funky and earthy and as delicious as you'd imagine.

The Firefly at Gin & Tonic
Perhaps the simplest drink on this list comes from Bennett Richardson of Gin & Tonic, who takes Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka -- made with real tea from South Carolina -- and adds only lemons and soda water to get a drink that is redolent of real Southern sweet tea, tastes like summer and is far too easy to drink.

And the winner of the cocktail ingredient of the year? One word: absinthe.

-- Fritz

By Anne Kenderdine  | January 1, 2009; 3:52 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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Anybody know what happened to Fin Mac Cool's?

Posted by: BrentwoodGuy | January 3, 2009 1:12 AM | Report abuse

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