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Posted at 10:32 PM ET, 04/22/2009

'Cocktail Sessions' at Bar Pilar End Next Month

By Fritz Hahn

For every bit of good news for D.C. cocktail fans (tiki bar in Georgetown!), there's some bad news: Adam Bernbach, the inventive mixologist who runs Bar Pilar's weekly Cocktail Sessions events and serves as Pilar's general manager, is leaving the bar after one last hurrah on May 19.

"For the next couple months, I'm probably going to be doing one-off and weekly events, focusing on the beverages," he says. Though he's not offering too many details yet, expect some guerilla parties like "Billy's Parents' House," the house party-themed throwdown that Bernbach and Bourbon bartender Owen Thomson organized at the Warehouse Theater last month. Bernbach will also be doing some seminars and working for Plymouth Gin.

Cocktail Sessions developed a loyal following because of Bernbach's willingness to experiment and mesh flavors and profiles that few patrons would otherwise stumble across. One of my favories, the Seafoam, included smoky Peat Monster Scotch, dry Lustau manzanilla sherry, Meyer lemon syrup, fresh lemon juice, an egg white, grapefruit bitters and soda water. And because the same cocktails never repeated for two weeks in a row, there was a compelling reason to come back the next Tuesday to sample something completely unexpected and wonderful.

"What I'm going to be doing [over the next few months] is going to be more intense" than the Cocktail Sessions, Bernbach says. "Ideally I'd like to have more people involved. I want to explore the world of cocktails and the world of taste, things that I'm really into. ... . It's not molecular mixology so much, but it will be more elemental -- using raw sugar cane as a base working with rhum agricole," the rum from the French West Indies made from fermented sugar cane.

In time, Bernbach says, he'll probably be back behind a bar in D.C., but he's "not 100 percent sure at this point" where that might be or what it might entail. "Ideally, I'd like to be managing but also focusing on cocktails."

The May 19 going-away party will have a special extra-long list of cocktails from the last year of Cocktail Sessions -- "10 of my personal favorites and some other people's personal favorites" -- including the Darkside (Plymouth gin, the herbal Marcarini Chinato dessert wine, Peychaud's Bitters and house-spiced cherries).

But until then, you can still expect to see five new drinks a week on Bernbach's handwritten menu every Tuesday.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | April 22, 2009; 10:32 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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Speaking of cocktails, SOVA has added a new cocktail program with the guy that helped start the Gibson.

Posted by: HStreetNE | April 23, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

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