Seasoned toque Dennis Marron got a taste of what it’s like to partner with surrounding farms and small-batch producers while juggling cooking duties at the twin Kimpton Hotels properties across the river in Alexandria, Va., the swanky Grille at Morrison House and presidentially inspired Jackson 20.
He’s kept up that tradition — nay, deftly improved on it — since moving to Penn Quarter, choreographing an “all local” happy hour at Poste Moderne Brasserie (555 Eighth St. NW) that spotlights many rising stars from the area.
The eco-minded program was launched in February with sustainability and local supping/slurping in mind. As such, the original menu was confined to resources available from the District, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
Not that Marron had to look that far for quality content.
The recent boom in craft beer and artisan spirits made it easy for Poste drinks guru Jason Wiles and beverage manager Kaine Gish to carve out room for hometown-only refreshments.
Bar staff tapped District brewers DC Brau (The Public) and Chocolate City Beer (Cornerstone Copper Ale) and rounded out the suds selection with Alexandria-based Port City Brewing (Optimal Wit). A local sparkler, Thibaut-Janisson’s Virginia Fizz, originally flowed for wine aficionados but has since been scrapped.
“Unfortunately, Thibaut-Janisson couldn’t keep up with our needs,” a Kimpton aide said of the demand for festive bubbly.
When it came to the hard stuff, Team Poste went all in on Green Hat Gin, the first District-based booze distilled here in decades. It looked further west to fill the tumblers of brown-liquor lovers, opting for the signature Roundstone Rye crafted by Catoctin Creek Distillery out in Purcellville, Va.
The standing happy-hour special shaves down all three beers to $6 per pint (down $1 a pop for DC Brau and Port City; a $2 savings on Chocolate City) and invites patrons to create their own cocktail — your choice of featured spirit plus one mixer — for $7 a pour.
While Meal Ticket diners are never ones to shy away from a frosty brew, Poste’s beautifully outfitted bar counter — tiny tins overflowing with thyme, mint and other essential herbs; a pharmacy’s worth of assorted bitters ready to spice things up; fresh lemons, oranges and limes awaiting spot-zesting — begged for further investigation.
A request for something with Green Hat elicited an immediate pitch for a gin and tonic. “That’s the most common one,” the barkeep said of the go-to cooler.
It most certainly brightened our day.
The Green Hat-fueled libation was crisp, tangy and utterly refreshing — a citrusy reprieve from the day’s preoccupations. The gin is smooth but lively, intertwining its herbal essence with the lip-curling twang of quinine.
A fishing expedition for rye-based relaxation yielded suggestions for rye and ginger or a rye old fashioned.