Cherry Blossom Festival Drink Specials, March 20-April 27
Can you believe it’s been 100 years? It was 1912 when Tokyo gave Washington the original gift of more than 3,000 cherry trees, which were planted along the Tidal Basin. Reinforced over the years with a few additional donations, these enduring groves explode in delicate beauty each spring, and are celebrated by locals and by tourists, who come in droves to experience the pretty profusion of pink. This year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival runs March 20–April 27, 2012, and several of the city’s restaurants and bars have crafted special drinks in honor of the centennial celebration. Check out our roundup of cherry-inflected sips with which to toast the trees.
Acadiana, Ceiba, DC Coast, District Commons: Throughout the monthlong event, these Passion Food Group spots are offering cocktail and small plate “cherry blossom combos.” Look forward to creative couplings such as Ceiba’s smoked duck and squash blossom empanada with pickled cherry salsa, paired with the Fleure de la Cereza (El Dorado rum, St. Germain, fresh cherry juice and Rosé Gruet sparkling wine).
Agora Restaurant: Take the celebration Turkish at this Dupont Circle Medi-fusion with the Kiraz Cicegi (which translates to “cherry blossom”) — a combination of Southern Comfort, Yeni raki, cherry juice, mint and agave nectar and garnished with a lime ($9).
Brabo: Robert Wiedmaier’s restaurant will spice things up with the Hot Cherry Mess, made with Macchu pisco, Szechuan peppercorn spiced syrup, housemade cherry jam, lemon juice, egg white foam and cherry bitters ($13).
Capitol City Brewing Company: The brewmasters at Capitol City and 901 have created a special Cherry Blossom Ale, brewed with 336 lbs. of fresh cherries. Find the light-bodied, 5.5% ABV ale on tap at both Capitol City locations (downtown and Shirlington Village) and Penn Quarter’s 901 throughout the festival.
Cuba Libre: This Penn Quarter Nuevo Latino has infused their house rum (aged five years) with cherry brandy, and will top it will Coca-Cola Classic for the Vanilla-Cherry Coke ($9). Pair it with one of two new cherry-centric dishes on the menu.
Firefly: Settle down next to the indoor tree to enjoy a Sakura Sling (cherry- and vanilla bean-infused Ketel One, Leopold Brothers Michigan tart cherry liqueur, simple syrup and a splash of soda) for just $6 during happy hour ($12 at all other times).
Founding Farmers: Toast the trees the eco-friendly way at the IMF building with a Sour Chery Smash, made with custom-blended Founding Farmers Rye Whiskey, freshly-muddled, fermented sour cherries, lemon, bitters, and simple syrup ($12).
The Grille at Morrison House: Two takes on cherries come from bartender Rosen Ivanov at the Alexandria Kimpton. The Sour Cherry Fizz mixes sour cherry juice, Tanqueray gin, lemon, simple syrup, egg white and a splash of club soda, and the Smoked Cherry Old Fashioned sees Maker's Mark, bitters and house-smoked cherry syrup garnished with a smoked cherry and a slice of orange (each $12). There will also be a Japanese-themed pre-fixe meal for $195 that is topped off with a 1912 Madeira (call for reservations).
Hank’s Oyster Bar: Take your tree-inspired sips with seafood at this Dupont seafooder with the Cherry Stone Blossom (vodka, sake, fresh lemon and a splash of tart cherry juice) or the Cherry Coke, made with a sour cherry-infused rye, toasted walnuts and Coca-Cola Classic (each $11).
J&G Steakhouse: Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s steakhouse in the W Hotel has a sweet way to celebrate: a cherry compote served in a couple glass with pistachio ice cream, candied pistachios and a Champagne sabayon ($9). Alternately, sip on a $13 Gin Cherry Blossom cocktail (Hendrick's gin, cherry yuzu, soda and Thai basil leaves).
Jackson 20: In the Hotel Monaco in Old Town, find the Cherry Picnic, made with ginger liqueur, spiced rum, fresh sour mix and Campari, available throughout the festival for $10.
The Jefferson: Behind an exterior lit up in pink, the hotel bar will serve the Hanami Centennial, made with Mantensei sake, Gvine Floraison gin, Meyer lemon, Cherry Heering, and housemade ginger and lemongrass syrup. Also look for a Japanese-themed eight course meal featuring a 1912 Madeira.
Legal Seafood: The (creatively named) Cherry Blossom cocktail at this Penn Quarter seafooder is made with Cherry Heering, lemon, Fee Brothers cherry bitters and topped with Cava for $9.95 Pair it with four special dishes including the grilled hanger steak with cherry demi glaze and a crab-stuffed potato.
Oliver Ales: The craft brewers at Baltimore’s Pratt Street Ale House have created an ale fermented with 210 pounds of pureed dark, sweet cherries, which will be available at numerous bars throughout the District.
The Oval Room: Get your stone-fruit drink fix steps from the White House with a special cocktail here featuring cherry brandy, vodka, simple syrup, elderflower liqueur, fresh-squeezed OJ, and splash of cranberry juice ($15).
Park Hyatt Washington: The restaurants and lounge at this West End hotel will serve the Sakura, a cocktail with Prairie Organic Vodka, fresh cherry puree, cherry bitters and a splash of Va de Vi sparkling wine, garnished with a cherry ($14). Also look for a cherry-themed cooking class with Pastry Chef Peter Brett ($65).
Poste Moderne Brasserie: At this Penn Quarter New American, lead bartender Jason Wiles has created a sake-based cocktail called For Heaven’s Sake — house-made pomegranate soda, Tozai sake, vodka, Maraschino liqueur and fresh lemon juice ($12).
Urbana: In the below-street enclave at the Hotel Palomar, lead bartender Obinna Emenyonu will serve the Tuscan Flor — cherry and apple purée, vodka, yuzu and prosecco, served with a brandied cherry garnish ($13).
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