Resident mixologist and cocktail nerd Derek Brown guest posts on Young & Hungry, explaining how he stays in the loop of new cocktail trends and educated on vintage ingredients.

Photo courtesy of Matthew Lyons

Photo courtesy of Matthew Lyons

Carla Hall fans should stop by the Banana Republic at 13th and F NW. The store’s display features professional photographs of Chef Hall wearing clothes from the new fall season. . 
Is the famed New Jersey diner scene in danger?  

All We Can Eat has a recap of the American Cheese Society’s annual competition. Cowgirl Creamery’s Red Hawk, that stinky beast of a cheese, took second place. You can find Red Hawk at Cowgirl Creamery downtown and Cheesetique in Del Ray.

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse makes some changes to adjust to the economy.  

Brunch and the City checks out Argonaut brunch
Tips on making your own condiments.
Three DC farmers markets have been named the best small markets in the country based on a new poll by the American Farmland Trust. You’ll never guess which three.  

Rouge My Knees found some fantastic olds ads from late 60s Playboy issues, including this Henessy ad.

Have an abundance of peaches from the market? Try The Bitten Word’s peach-cardamom pie with cardamom-vanilla ice cream.   
Frank Bruni of the New York Times hands out a 4-star review to Eleven Madison Park, before stepping down from his post. 
No plans this weekend? Check out Café Atlantico’s Caribbean rum tasting events.

formosa2When word got out that Derek Brown was working with SOVA Espresso & Wine on H Street, some of the loudest cheers came from us here at Capital Spice.  And when we met Jamie MacBain, a bartender who came to DC from Portland’s craft cocktail scene, we knew that good things were in store.

Unfortunately for us, MacBain’s talents haven’t gone unnoticed, and it wasn’t long before the folks at the Four Seasons came calling.  As of Monday, MacBain has started behind the bar at Bourbon Steak, Michael Mina’s high-end dining room in Georgetown.  They’ve been proud of their cocktail program since they opened, making their own bitters and tinctures, squeezing their own juices and pouring their sodas from glass bottles instead of a gun.  It’s a great fit for a guy like MacBain, who was one of the founders of the Oregon Bartenders Guild.  And it means we’ve got another place to go for hand-crafted classics and innovations when we’re out drinking on M Street!

bourbonsteakWe suspected something was up when we didn’t see MacBain and SOVA listed among the competitors in the DC Craft Bartender’s Guild’s 2nd annual Rickey Month celebration.  So we checked in with Frank Hankins at SOVA and he confirmed that Jamie had gotten “an offer that was way too good to pass up” from Bourbon Steak.  Bummer.

So what does this mean for H Street?  Thankfully, Frank assured us that SOVA will continue to mix the impressive array of grape-based spirits (pisco, brandy, grappa, etc.) that Brown helped him put together.  MacBain’s fellow bartenders are still on hand, working hard to crank out the Arequipa Sunsets, Formosas and French 75s.  But they could definitely use a hand, and Frank has asked us to help spread the word.  Here we go:


Interested in being part of the growing craft cocktail scene here in DC?  Looking to shake things up behind the bar?  Want to work with a unique drink menu created by Derek Brown and other top talents?

If so, SOVA is calling.  As part of the emerging Atlas District on H Street Northeast, SOVA attracts a diverse crowd from all over the metro area.  In addition to craft cocktails and punches, SOVA serves a range of moderately priced wines using a Cruvinet system and a selection of beers.

Regulars include students at nearby Gallaudet University, so knowledge of ASL is a plus (but not a requirement).

If you’re interested or just looking for more information, reach out to Frank Hankins at SOVA.  Email or call (202) 397-3080 to inqure.

BBQ season is definitely here. 18th and Swine prepares for the summer’s competitions.  
With hand-crafted boutiquey cocktails being all the rage in DC, we’re seeing a growth in the thought put into ice cubes. I even had an embarrassingly nerdy discussion with Derek Brown at Sova about the kind of ice they use and how difficult it is to make the perfect cube at home. The Violet Hour in Chicago takes it a step further – offering 8 types of ice so there is always one that best suits your drink.  

A new book reviews the life of pauper turned “vodka king” Pyotr Smirnov.  
Which food and beverage brands are perceived as having the best value? According to a recent Brand Index story, Subway sandwich chains offer consumers the best value for their money. The lowest performers? Red Bull, Starbucks and Perrier. 
Tim Carman, writer of Young and Hungry and DC’s resident Gossip Girl, like totally got tipped off to a spotting of Gordon Ramsey hanging out in Georgetown. Rumors are already swirling that he is looking to take over the Citronelle space, though it seems like odd timing as his company is going through some financial challenges. 
Everything’s political. The National Restaurant Association wrote President Obama an open letter thanking him for dining out.

Modern Domestic issues a public service announcement on carrots.  
Frito-Lay is launching an interesting new campaign in an effort to hitch themselves to the locavore bandwagon.  The company is promoting the 80 farms in 27 state where they source their potatoes. You can find out which farm your chips came from by going to the Lays website and entering your product code and zip code.  
The Office’s Rainn Wilson is unimpressed with a restaurant’s decorative choices.  

Planning a big Sunday dinner? Consider a finale with this chevre cheesecake with a  ginger snap crust from Arugula Files. 
Cocaine cheese bust at Dulles Airport.  
Screen on the Green, one of DC’s best picnic-worthy events, may be cancelled this year due to lost sponsorship

Foodie Tots checks out the new farmers market in Crystal City.  
Is the fridge in your office gross? Probably not as bad as this one: 28 people had to go to the hospital when the fumes of rotten food and cleaning chemicals made them vomit. The kicker? The person cleaning the fridge was just fine – she had allergies and couldn’t smell anything.   
Chefs share their scar stories
Business Week has a slide show of the oldest restaurants in America including DC’s Old Ebbitt Grill and The Occidental.  
Restaurant trends are having an impact on the snack market, influencing what consumers want available to them as an at-home snack option.  
Are urban chicken coops the next gardening trend in DC?  
Here is some food news I’m loathe to report: Inside Edition’s “rat patrol” temporarily shut down two Five Guys locations in the District. An update from the owner calms the situation somewhat.

Ben & Jerry’s launches a new ice cream flavor (chocolate macadamia nut!) and a contest to create the next Ben & Jerry’s flavor.  
Elevation Burger expands to Manhattan.   
It’s hard to believe but pasta primavera was once so new and so different that it was the talk of the Manhattan dining crowd.

logoTucked away between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there’s an under-appreciated holiday that we here at Capital Spice are all about celebrating:  Repeal Day.

On December 5, 1933, the Twenty-First Amendment was ratified by Utah, at which point it had the necessary three-fourths majority of states’ approval and became law.  With that, the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed and Prohibition came to an end after more than thirteen years.

dc-craft-bartendersNow, seventy-five years later, a movement is underway to bring attention to this red letter day in American history.  Jeffrey Morgenthaler has been spearheading the effort, and here in DC he is being joined by the DC Craft Bartenders’ Guild.

What is the DC Craft Bartenders’ Guild, you ask, and what are they doing to celebrate Repeal Day?  Find out after the jump. (more…)