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Posted at 5:06 PM ET, 06/11/2009

Will Proof Become Destination for Cocktails as Well as Wine?

By Fritz Hahn

Only a few weeks ago, D.C. cocktail aficionados stared glumly into the bottoms of their Sazeracs, wondering what would replace Adam Bernbach's wildly inventive (and wildly popular) drinks once he left Bar Pilar. He said he wanted to take a break from the day-to-day business of bartending and managing a restaurant.

Well, that didn't last long.

Starting July 13 -- after the Tales of the Cocktail festival in New Orleans -- Bernbach will take over as the bar manager at the wine-centric restaurant Proof, where he'll also be responsible for the cocktail list.

"Honestly, I didn't leave Pilar for Proof," Bernbach said today. "I didn't expect to be back in a restaurant with this speed. But the opportunity presented itself and it seemed like a good fit. I've known everyone involved [with Proof] for quite a long time."

Proof's current cocktail list, created by wine director Sebastian Zutant, is a sleeper, full of clever ideas and interesting flavors. Fairly short at six to eight drinks, it's always been dominated by the wine list. Now, that may be changing, and you could see as many people holding a martini glass as a large cabernet sauvignon glass.

Don't walk in expecting to see out-there drinks right away, though. "I don't want to make any stupid changes for the sake of the ego," Bernbach says. "I want it to be part of the restaurant."

And as for his weekly Cocktail Sessions, which drew fans to Pilar every Tuesday for one-night-only invention -- those are also on hold.

"There's the possibility that I will do something along the lines of Cocktail Sessions, or have an omakase menu, but I don't know what that's going to be. Honestly, I just want to be involved in a restaurant with a great beverage program."

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | June 11, 2009; 5:06 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Restaurants  
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