Mug Shots: Beyond Beer, Brasserie Beck Beckons Barflies

Creative Cocktail Concoctions Conquer K Street Community

Posted September 10, 2008 at 5:19pm

The only thing that shines more than the food and cocktails at Brasserie Beck is the staff. From a sarcastic but charming bartender named Josh to a quirky waiter named Cesar who is quick to recommend a drink, the staff makes this Belgian restaurant a pleasure for drinking and dining.

[IMGCAP(1)]The restaurant, situated at the corner of 11th and K streets Northwest, has been charming Washingtonians with what are arguably the best mussels in the city for more than a year now. The lively bar has also been an attraction, luring patrons in with a bound beer menu featuring dozens of offerings. The restaurant also offers a lengthy wine list featuring such fun treats as a sparkling Shiraz for those who are bigger fans of grapes than hops.

And beginning next week, restaurateur Robert Wiedmaier and his wife, Polly, are taking a stab at cocktails. A menu featuring a handful of creative concoctions will be available for $9 to $10 a pop. With fun names like the Orient Express (ginger peach vodka, sweetened lemonade, ginger juice) and the Uptown Greyhound (Belvedere vodka, St. Germain elderberry liqueur, pink grapefruit juice, Champagne), there’s something for everyone.

“This menu began construction about a month ago,” mixologist Cory Eckstein wrote in an e-mail. “The idea that the drinks would complement the menu and the environment and ambiance of the restaurant was the goal.”

Highlights on the drink menu include the Italian Sidecar and the Gin Rickey. Made of cognac, amaretto and sweet and sour, the sidecar is very sweet and reminiscent of an amaretto sour. While Mug Shots has never been much of a gin drinker, the Gin Rickey was a tasty treat that thankfully didn’t taste too boozy. Made with Citadelle gin, lime juice, syrup and soda, this cocktail is a nice stand-in for a G&T.

“When creating a drink, especially for this menu, I tried to look at older recipes and put a twist on them,” Eckstein said. “A restaurant with a beer and wine focus doesn’t necessarily need an aggressive cocktail menu. Brasserie Beck is a food-oriented, chef-driven restaurant with a renowned beer program. This menu is meant to complement the food and business so when creating these drinks, a twist on the classics seemed more fitting.”

In fact, while the long list of beers with Belgian names can be intimidating, the staff is excellent at breaking down the list and helping customers choose ales that suit their palate.

The list is broken into sections, making it easy to navigate. For those on a budget, there is a $6 Bavik, a creamy pilsner, and for those looking to splurge, there are a few beers that fall from $20 to $30, including the Vapeur Cochonne ale.

However, Mug Shots’ favorite drink is the Becks Royale. Sure, some would say this variation on a Kir Royale is a bit hoity-toity or perhaps a drink for country club wives, but the fruity, bubbly concoction goes down so easily it’s dangerous. Made with Champagne and Kasteel Rouge Raspberry Beer, this drink is sure to satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth.

In addition to the new cocktail menu, Brasserie Beck, named after the Wiedmaiers’ youngest son, opened an outdoor patio this summer. With tables that seat as few as two or as many as 10, this is a great place to cool your heels and catch up with friends.

The bar at the restaurant fills up quickly, but the staff has been known to let those interested in downing a few spirits occupy an outdoor table. The only catch is that you have to take the drinks inside at 11:30 p.m.

Brasserie Beck is located at 1101 K Street NW. Reservations can be made on Open Table or by calling 202-408-1717.