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First Look: Ripple's Sugar Magnolia

Perfect post-cocktail, gourmet picnic fare

Ripple has already established itself as the go-to drinking den in Cleveland Park, its seasonal “cocktailian concoctions” and “majestic mocktails” the perfect liquid complement to a menu focused on sustainable, organic and locally acquired foodstuffs. Just in time for the warmer months, Ripple’s gourmet market Sugar Magnolia is now open daily, and proffers sweet treats and savory fare just ripe for picnic baskets at the National Zoo, Screen on the Green, Jazz in the Garden and every other outdoor eating opportunity in the District.

No matter where you’re headed, leave enough time for a libation at the bar before gathering your on-the-go goodies for summer under the stars. Just introduced for spring, the Daisy Duke Daisy is a refreshing choice made with two whiskeys — High West OMG Pure Rye and Prichard’s Lincoln County Lightning — as well as the purple-hued, orange-flavored liqueur Parfait Amour; lemon juice; and droplets of bayleaf-infused olive oil, which spot the surface with whimsical yellow polka-dots. It’s a serious cocktail with an unexpected presentation — a fitting prelude to what’s in store at Sugar Magnolia.

Forget the brie and stale baguette; you’ll be the talk of the table (or blanket) with the shop’s collection of upscale, gourmet fare in totable packing. Savory sandwiches forgo tired combinations for inspired pairings such as smoked mackerel with kale and potatoes, or black-eyed pea hummus with gouda and yogurt-rutabaga slaw. Salads and other prepared goods — such as pâté, liver parfait and marinated beans — demonstrate that even side dishes can be foodie-friendly.

But it’s the fresh-baked goods that you’ll be buying in bulk. Don’t leave the shop without one of the blondies made with coconut, toffee, chocolate and almonds — it’s one of the best of the bunch. You’ll probably want to stalk up on Valrhona chocolate brownies and butterscotch pudding as well because there’s one item that won’t make it past the sidewalk: the house-made ice cream sandwiches. Forget cupcakes and macarons, this is one classic treat that hasn’t been overdone and which, at Sugar Magnolia, reflects pastry chef Allison Reed’s confectionery acumen. Sure to be a hit is the version made with waffles and bacon maple ice cream, or the cocoa meringue cookie with salted caramel toffee. Feeling fancy? Try the ginger cookie with roasted beet ice cream — you may just love it.

Once you’ve got treats in tow, grab a bottle of vino next door at Cleveland Park FIne Wines & Liquor Store — you’ll have a feast fit for a king to smuggle in to the Uptown Theater (across the street) or the National Zoo just a few blocks away.

3417 Connecticut Ave NW; 202-244-7995

Photos by Lauren Sloat

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