Mug Shots: A Toast to Spring

Celebrate the Blossoms With A Pink Drink

Posted April 1, 2009 at 3:29pm

Cherry blossoms aren’t the only pink things to grace Washington, D.C., this week. As flowers bloom along the Tidal Basin, bartenders all over town will be pouring pink, frilly drinks in honor of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. From cocktails to flights of wine, Mug Shots is serving a round up of where to go and what to taste.

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Poste

Poste (555 Eighth St. NW) is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of D.C. and sip a festive drink. This French brasserie, nestled in the courtyard of the Hotel Monaco, is insulated from the sounds of Chinatown, making customers feel as if they’ve stepped out of the city and into a brief vacation. The sunny bar and outdoor patio are the perfect place to indulge in the Cerise en Fleur, a sweet (without being too sweet) concoction of Belgian ale, cherry vodka, shochu, aloe vera juice and agave nectar. The drink is served in a martini glass and sells for $11.

“I wanted to do something cherry-themed, and I didn’t want it to be overly syrupy sweet,— Wisner said. “I wanted to show the Japanese influence and tie it in and not just do it for the sake of being cherry.—

The drink is sweet but, just as Wisner intended, it doesn’t have that candy flavor. There is also a pleasant hint of citrus, giving it a summertime feel. The drink will stay on the menu throughout the festival.

Oya

If you prefer pink wine to pink cocktails, Oya (777 Ninth St. NW) is the perfect place to drink this week. Sommelier and Director of Wine Marketing Andrew Stover has selected four wines to be offered in flights during the Cherry Blossom Festival. Available in a group of three for $12 or four for $16, the flights feature rosé wines that range in color from pink to deep red.

The flight features a crisp pink pinot grigio rosé called Ca’Bona from Lombardy, Italy, and an Aljibes Syrah Rosé from Tierra de Castilla, Spain. Oya is also offering two Virginia wines — the Ingleside Rosato di Sangiovese and the Chrysalis Vineyards’ Sarah’s Patio Red.

Not only is Oya celebrating the trees on its menu, but the restaurant is also celebrating on its walls, which are decked out in pink decor. There are long branches from cherry blossom trees in vases on the bar, and the back wall of the restaurant is covered in pink flowers.

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Sei

Oya’s newly opened sister restaurant, Sei, in Penn Quarter (444 Seventh St. NW) is also partaking in the festivities. Rather than offering wine, this sushi hot spot is serving a pink cocktail created by general manager Arris Delgado.

“For me, when I do drinks, it’s about trying to create connections between ingredients,— Delgado said. “I wanted to think of it more as a small bite, almost like an appetizer.—

The cocktail, called the Sakure — the Japanese word for cherry blossom — is a mix of cherry, blackberry and vanilla-infused vodka, the Japanese spirit shochu and yuzu lime garnished with a pink cherry blossom. In the end, the drink tastes much more like vanilla than it does cherry — despite its pink color — and there’s hardly a hint of booze. Delgado says this was his intention.

“How many drinks have cherries in them?— Delgado asked. “I didn’t want it to be a main component.—

While the drinks at Sei can make a dent in your wallet, the Sakure is budget-friendly. Served in a Champagne flute, the drink costs $6, half the price of most of the cocktails on the list.

Palette

Across town at Palette (1177 15th St. NW) customers can sip on a tasty, dangerous concoction created by executive sous chef Arnel Esposo. Consisting of Champagne, sake, grenadine and sour cherry sorbet, this frilly cocktail is served in a Champagne flute and garnished with cherries.

“East meets West,— Esposo says of the cherry sake float. Drinker beware: The cocktail is delicious and goes down smoothly, making it easy to drink a few too many.

The drink is designed specifically to accompany a cherry-cured salmon that Esposo has put on the menu at Palette for the festival. Located in the Madison Hotel, the restaurant offers a cozy bar that is perfect for catching up with friends who may be in town to see the blossoms. Cushioned couches and chairs are set up in clusters and portioned off from one another, giving an intimate feel to the space. If you’re feeling more social, there are also long shared tables that are perfect for mingling.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival will run through April 12.