Where He Won: Columbia Room; Washington, DC. With three distinct drinking spaces, including a bookcase-lined library with a full menu of old-fashioneds, a tasting room dedicated to multicourse food and cocktail pairings and an outdoor garden with refreshing punches, the place is an oasis for any kind of drinker.
Earliest bartending experience:
A brief summer gig in college in Edinburgh, Scotland. That city hosts its famous Festival Fringe every August, and a million people come to see comedy, theater, performance art, music and to drink. I worked in The Famous Spiegeltent, wore a stupid T-shirt, slung beers, worked late and went to the pub at 7 a.m. with my co-workers. It was a helluva good time.
Favorite guilty pleasure drink?
Adam Bernbach’s Piña Colada at 2 Birds 1 Stone in DC. I dream about that drink…
What’s different about Columbia Room's beverage program?
Without taking anything away from what we’re doing in our three other bars—Paul Taylor, our bar manager at Southern Efficiency, is killing it!—we have the scope to invest more time, thought and development into each individual cocktail and every menu. We can serve a cocktail set in a mini Zen garden complete with sand and miniature rake at Columbia Room.
One thing every home bartender should have on hand:
A good, sturdy punch bowl with a ladle and cups. For most of us, making individual cocktails at home is arduous — no mise en place, no dedicated bar area — so if you have people over, make a delicious punch instead. Then bottle and refrigerate the rest for yourself the next day. I had a ton of leftover batched Sherry Cobbler after my wedding, so I kept myself refreshed for a couple of weeks after.
The next “big thing” in the cocktail world:
I hope that it’s sustainability without sacrificing flavor or creativity. And vermouth, everywhere and all the time! Pie-in-the-sky hope, perhaps, but I’ve never been happier in a bar than sipping vermut de grifo and eating salty things in Madrid.