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Posted at 12:34 PM ET, 05/ 6/2009

World Cocktail Week: Eight Days of Great Drinks

By Anne Kenderdine

Chantal Tseng of the Tabard Inn has summery drinks on tap for Wednesday, May 13. (Michael Temchine for The Washington Post)

Today marks the beginning of World Cocktail Week, a worldwide celebration of mixed drinks. In D.C., there are nightly events organized by the members of the D.C. Craft Bartenders Guild, with all of them donating anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of the proceeds to the Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans.

"Last year, we raised more money than any city in the world," says Derek Brown, a founding member of the Guild who bartends at (and created the first cocktail menu for) the Gibson. "And this week we want to top that."

Here's a day-by-day guide to where you can find the best drinks in town. Except for the gala dinner on Monday, none of the events has a cover charge.

Gin Rickeys at Bar Pilar
Tonight, from 5 to 7, Adam Bernbach of Bar Pilar will be mixing up traditional Gin Rickeys - no fancy liqueurs, no extraneous ingredients - for $7 a piece. It's an homage, he says, to George Williamson, the bartender who poured the first Rickey years ago at a bar called Shoemaker's on Pennsylvania Avenue. If you're looking for the creative, outlandish cocktails that Bernbach is known for, check with him Tuesday during his next-to-last Cocktail Sessions at Pilar.

And if you're hooked on the Rickey, get ready for July when members of the D.C. Craft Bartenders Guild compete with each other to see who can craft the coolest and most inventive Rickey.

'80s Cocktails at PS 7's
Many of the cocktails celebrated and consumed in D.C. bars come from the golden age of the 1920s and '30s, and we usual give short shift to the silly beverages of the '70s and '80s, like the Harvey Wallbanger or Tequila Sunrise. Not so tonight at PS 7's, where bartenders Rachel Sergi of Zaytinya and Jason Strich of Rasika join PS 7's bartender Gina Chersevani to mix up '80s-inspired drinks from 6 to 9.

"We're going to be making '80s drinks with a modern twist," explains Sergi, offering as examples "a Long Island Iced Tea made with all fresh ingredients, or a Fuzzy Navel with fresh peach juice instead of peach schnapps, and Hanger One mandarin blossom vodka instead of orange juice and vodka. Oh, and we'll have Jell-O shooters."

DJ Brian Billion will be spinning Hall & Oates, Cameo, Billy Ocean and Whodini, classic '80s movies have been lined up for the bar's large flatscreen TV, and the staff are digging '80s outfits out of their closets - dressing up is encouraged, for customers, too.

Punch Club at the Warehouse
Punch Club, the weekly cocktail night that was such a hit at the Warehouse in January and February, is making a special return to Seventh Street tonight between 6 and 8. Bartender Dan Searing whips up large bowls full of potent "adult punches" and then ladles out glasses for $5 bucks a pop. For this event, Searing is bringing back the killer Rocky Mountain Punch (rum, champagne, maraschino liqueur and lemon juice) and Bombay Government Regulation Punch (rum, cognac, limes, sugar, nutmeg), and serving up Pisco Punch (with South American pisco liqueur) "and maybe another one or two into the mix." Beer and wine will also be available, but I can't imagine why you'd drink anything other than the punches.

Searing's forthcoming wine and cocktail bar, Room 11, will be open soon in Columbia Heights. Two inspections have already been passed, Searing says, "so we're talking weeks, not months."

Pisco Drinks at Sova
Sova, the cool, cozy H Street coffee shop and wine bar, just introduced a menu of cocktails, many crafted by Derek Brown, who was also responsible for a number of drinks at the Gibson. The list includes drinks like the Red Lion (G'Vine Gin, Grand Marnier and orange and lemon juices) and the Formosa (white port, sparkling sake and orange zest). It's reasonably priced, too, with most drinks between $8 and $10.

Tonight from 7 to 9, Melanie Asher of Macchu Pisco, a popular brand of the Peruvian liqueur, will discuss the origins of pisco - it's made from grapes - while the bartenders whip up special pisco-based cocktails. "It's not going to be too formal," Brown says. "More like a party ... it's an introduction to Sova."

Tikis with Tiffany at the Gibson
Every Sunday night, bartender Tiffany Short hosts a tiki cocktail party on the Gibson's back patio, selecting three drinks "that sound like fun" from a library of old Trader Vic's recipe books and serving them all night long. Short says she hasn't decided which ones she's going to be pouring for Cocktail Week between 6 and 8, but you can bet they'll be (a) heavy on the rum and (b) strong enough to take down a sailor. "I think at least one of them is going to be a blender drink," she says.

Since this is the Gibson, seating is limited and early arrival is strongly suggested. (Patio seating is first-come, first-served.)

Museum of the American Cocktail Dinner at Proof
This is the week's big event: A $145-per-person fundraiser for the Museum of the American Cocktail that includes a five-course meal and a total of 10 cocktails, each created by a different bartender. Some friends and I bought a table last year and had a blast. (Yes, it's pricey, but it's also tax-deductible.) The evening starts with a cocktail-style reception, where you wander between different tables and try small tastes of five drinks. Last year, these aperitifs included drinks like a ridiculously fruity rum concoction called PaRappa the Rapper Punch from Adam Bernbach, and Tarragon Gin Fizz, tarragon-infused Hendrick's gin, lemon juice and tarragon soda, from Justin Guthrie, who then worked at Central.

After drinks, you're seated for a five-course dinner prepared by Proof chef Haidar Karoum -- and each course -- including the cheese - comes paired with a drink. At last year's dinner, Proof sommelier and cocktail guy Sebastian Zutant paired some strong cheeses with "Sebby Potter and the Teeming Cauldron of Booze," which, according to the ingredient list, included Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Blandy's Madeira, Lillet Rouge, Lustau East India Sherry, ort-soaked prunes, and Fee Brothers aromatic bitters with Armagnac that's made with barrel-aged whisky. Simply amazing.

This year's participating mixologists include Adam Bernbach, Derek Brown, Gina Chersevani, Justin Guthrie, Owen Thomson (Bourbon), Todd Thrasher (PX and Restaurant Eve), Chantal Tseng (Tabard Inn), Rico Wisnor (Poste), Jill Zimorski (Cafe Atlantico), and Sebastian Zutant.

Reservations can be made by e-mailing Karen Chan at

Happy Hour at Sonoma
The forthcoming Blue Ridge restaurant is one of the most anticipated places in town, thanks to a team that includes chef Barton Seaver (ex-Hook and Cafe Saint-Ex), mixologist Justin Guthrie and the ownership team behind Sonoma and Mendocino Grill. Since the Glover Park dining room isn't ready to welcome diners and drinkers yet, Guthrie is showing off some new cocktails in Sonoma's upstairs lounge tonight. He and partner Tom Street will be shaking up cocktails made with the cucumber-infused Hendrick's Gin between 6 and 9, including the delicious-sounding Cucumber Milk Punch.

Reverse Happy Hour at the Tabard Inn
World Cocktail Day is May 13, and the week's worth of celebrations finishes with a "reverse happy hour" starting at 9:30 p.m. at the Tabard Inn with bartender Chantal Tseng. She's taking on a "May" theme, serving a mix of classic and original cocktails that have the word "May" in their name -- all drinks for warm weather. Here's some even better news: Because it's "happy hour," Tseng says, you'll pay up to 50 percent off the Tabard's usual prices, which can be $10 to $12 per drink.

-- Fritz

By Anne Kenderdine  | May 6, 2009; 12:34 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events  | Tags:  World Cocktail Week, bars, cocktails  
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OK, what are the DATES?? I get very frustrated because you just list a day...well, Thursday, the what?? Today? Next Thursday?

Posted by: sigmagrrl | May 7, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

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