DC – A Hedonistic Paradise

Pink Lady

The aroma of slowly-bubbling pork jowls, guanciale and confit tomato just hit my nose. The braise is for tonight’s dinner. Soon I’ll donate a potato and grana torte to the oven to get all craggly and crusted. I even threw a pig’s foot into the braise for good measure, and despite this, I’m just not hungry. When I told Derek Brown, SeanMike, and Marshall I was planning on doing two tasting menus in one night they looked at me as if I had resurrected Stan Jones from the grave and his corpse was mixing up tiki drinks two feet behind me.

Upcoming TDN – Apples and Pears

Before I dive into my culinary adventure, I want to announce this week’s Thursday Drink Night theme: Apples and Pears! We’ve reached the apogee of fall – summer produce is just beginning to fade out and the faintest hint of pumpkin pie is in the air. The harvest is upon us! Apple cider, hard cider, poire william, pear eau de vie, applejack, apple brandy, Apfelkorn, Granny Smiths, Honey Crisps, Boscs, Bartletts, or any other spirituous substance made with apples is fair game. The best cocktail of the evening will win a bottle of homemade Pear Brandy (details to come) courtesy of CocktailKingdom.

Join us in the chatroom!

Komi – Tasting Menu #1

The evening started at Komi, a “Greek” restaurant where Japanese, French, Greek, and Italian combined into a never-ending feast of foodie perfection. Komi is now my third favorite restaurant in the world. And for good reason – I have not experienced that many new flavors in one sitting for nearly five years.

Everything we ate was simple. But a simplicity that tells a story of techniques perfected, flavor combinations with a why-didn’t-I-think-of-that quality, and courses that left you wanting another 40 spoonfuls. Except you didn’t get them, as each new bite assaulted the table like a little array of soldiers waiting to get through a narrow door where you were waiting with a sniper rifle, your tongue.

The pacing was perfect. The endless barrage of single tastes was astounding: hamachi sashimi with a touch of cured olive, minced scallops in a tuna broth with a texture so fine it had to have been minced by a billion lasers, and probably my favorite, steamed brioche with crème fraîche and trout roe. Our pasta course was boulettas with chanterelles, blueberries, and guanciale. And how shameful would it be for me to neglect mention of the wine pairings, which were both exceptional and unique.

The main course was a goat-leg, slow-roasted for what had to be 6 hours – so tender, and the skin so crisp. To sop up juices were the fluffiest homemade pitas I’ve ever had, and a whole tray of fun items allowed you to tinker with each mouthful: the best tzatziki I’ve ever had, the best “baba ghanoush” I’ve ever had, a habanero sauce, and oregano salt. Dessert was donuts soaked in a caraway syrup and a mini chocolate milk shake. (Note, I am undoubtedly remembering some of this wrong, as I was too enthralled to keep notes.)


“Oh God, we have to eat another tasting menu. Excitement!” Our waitress thought we were insane, and in that she would be correct. In comparison to Komi’s delicate flavors, CityZen is like a boxing match. Don’t get me wrong, nothing was over-seasoned, but instead salty, sweet, acidic, and the ideal follow-up dinner. My compatriot that evening commented many times on how the order of restaurants was perfect; Komi’s flavors would have been lost after getting our mouths slapped around by Eric Ziebold.

Homemade corn-infused scrapple, poached ribeye with parker house rolls which tasted like oozing balls of brioche served in a little cigar box, a treasure chest of cheeses, and … my memory started to fade with a second wine pairing and the 17th dish of the evening, but rest assured, I will return to CityZen.

The Gibson

The Gibson is easily one of my favorite cocktail bars in DC – or the country for that matter. And their new menu is an exercise in intensity, though I must admit I didn’t try more than a drink or two off of it as Derek continued to thrust new potions he had been working on in my hand. Toward the end of the evening, he just started pouring shots of Fernet (which were sipped), “We’re going to add a new drink to the menu: Kaiser Penguin’s Endless Glass of Fernet for $24.99. It’s a sure win, as no one will ever drink enough Fernet to make us lose money except you.”

Derek and Chantal just returned from a honeymoon in Japan, and he brought back a tart-as-hell, single-strained version of the White Lady. After he said he didn’t double strain it on purpose, he began to look at me quizzically. My expression must have transformed – you know, like Mumra into the Ever Living, “Just try it – really,” he tried to assure me. I did, and I was amazed. The little bits of ice perfectly cut the tartness and made me feel like I was sitting in a Kold Draft machine while drinking it.

White Lady

  • 1 1/2oz gin
  • 3/4oz Cointreau
  • 1oz lemon juice

Shake with cracked ice and single-strain into a frigid cocktail glass.

Derek Brown via Japan

I’m not sure if the if the White Lady was friends with the Pink Lady, but they are both delightful lasses. Enjoy the addition of applejack and egg white!

Pink Lady

  • 1 1/2oz gin
  • 1/2oz Applejack (bonded if you can, or a good aged apple brandy)
  • 1/2oz lemon luice
  • 1/2oz grenadine
  • 1 egg white
  • lemon twist, for garnish

Shake with cracked ice until light and frothy and strain into a chilled cup topped with a lemon twist.


We made a brief stop at Proof to meet up with Derek, Chantal, SeanMike, Marshall, and their new bar manager, Adam Bernbach. The cocktail menu was inspiring and downright devilish. Several drinks with maple syrup caught my eye, but I couldn’t turn down the Light Watts after taking a sip of Marshall’s. I’ve done my best to recreate the recipe below – it’s not exact, but it’s definitely fricken tasty.

Light Watts

  • 2oz del Maguey crema de mezcal
  • 1/2oz Campari
  • 1/4oz Chartreuse
  • 3/4oz lemon juice

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled vessel of imbibement.

Rick via Adam from Proof

The Rest

Our trip took us to Palena, 2Amys (omg cured meat and pizza), ACE Beverage (my favorite booze stop in the country), El Pollo Rico, and to the hospitable abodes of SeanMike and Marshall, but I’ll have to save those details for another time. Cheers to everyone in DC who makes it so damn fun to visit – you’re all excellent hosts.

KP Question

  • What are your favorite gob stuffing and tippling spots in DC?

4 Responses to “DC – A Hedonistic Paradise”

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Comments to “ DC – A Hedonistic Paradise”
  1. TiareNo Gravatar says:

    I envy your ability to visit such nice food palaces, i can`t do anything like that here.

    But that drink Light Watts interest me..and i`m gonna try it tonight, thanks for the recipe;-)



  2. Ken MoorheadNo Gravatar says:

    “…each new bite assaulted the table like a little array of soldiers waiting to get through a narrow door where you were waiting with a sniper rifle, your tongue.”

    This sentence alone will keep me coming back to this blog. AWESOME!

  3. EricNo Gravatar says:

    As your “compatriot” I have to agree with exactly everything about this post. It’s sad that Palena and 2amys hardly warranted a mention next to the others, since both were also wonderful… (though I agree wholeheartedly with your ordering). I only wish I’d had more room in my (usually adequate) stomach to squeeze a few more Gibson drinks! The Gibson, along with Teardrop in OR are now my top two favorites (though I haven’t been to nearly as many good cocktail bars as KP :-)

    Oh, but you forgot to mention the music shop! (which was the …achem… “reason” for the trip).

  4. […] Perusing an old post at Kaiser Penguin’s pad in which he regales us with a visit to DC this fall, I saw that Rick had posted an approximation […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Kaiser Penguin is a cocktail blog featuring original recipes, homemade ingredients, classic cocktails, and tiki drinks.

Why on Earth did you name your blog “Kaiser Penguin?”

It is a well-known fact that penguins are members of high society and enjoy fine cocktails. Our very own kaiser penguin would like me to mention that he also enjoys various treats from the sea.

Contact: rick@kaiserpenguin.com