Black’s Bar and Kitchen
To welcome spring, look for an inventive, refreshing cocktail at Black's Bar & Kitchen has launched three new cocktails to get you in the swing of things. There is the Low Ryeder: a zesty drink made with Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye, habanero shrub, agave, and ruby red grapefruit; a cocktail that have you salivating for more that’s called ‘Till The Bitter End made with FAIR quinoa vodka, amaro, blood orange, local herbs, and ginger beer; and a tangy dram with a hit of heat called Basil’s Jalap-in It that includes Olmeca Altos blanco tequila, jalapeno, basil, and lime.
Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar
The Mambo, the Cubano, café con leche, moros y cristianos, and the Cuba Libre – so many fantastic things have been brought to our shores by Cuban immigrants and chefs, not the least of which is the empanada. To celebrate National Empanada Day on Wednesday, April 8, Cuba Libre is offering special empanada and drinks menus. The restaurant’s Dollar Empanada Happy Hour will run from 5 to 7 p.m. and will include a choice of four different signature Mamá Amelia’s Empanadas for just $1 dollar each, and include the Picadillo, De la Casa, Queso, and Parisen – and this kind of fun keeps on going the entire month of April. Still for just $1 dollar each, Cuba Libre will highlight two special empanadas. From April 1 to 12, an Empanada de Cereza with goat cheese, sour cherries, toasted pistachio, and sweet cherry mostarda will be available, and from April 13 to 21 a Total Eclipse Lobster Empanada made with a black corn shell, Maine lobster, coral butter and served with a mango escabeche salad and passion fruit-citrus mojo will be served. These specials are priced at $7.50 and $9 respectively, and are available during lunch and dinner service.
Nopa Kitchen + Bar
The next time you want to take in a show or game at the Verizon Center in Penn Quarter, you can take advantage of the fab pre-theater menu on offer at Nopa Kitchen + Bar. Matt Kuhn, the new executive chef, has created a special dinner menu priced at $35 per person, excluding tax and gratuity, that’s available Monday through Friday, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. Refreshing starters include a composed salad of peppery Asian greens with honey crisp apples, candied pecans, Grafton cheddar and a zesty cider vinaigrette and side dishes take advantage of locally sourced produce as in the faro and black quinoa risotto with sage pumpkin seed pesto, kabocha squash, baby sweet potatoes, and truffle pecorino. For the mains, try the hearty beef coulotte steak frites with crispy fingerlings, winterbor kale, and a smoked blue cheese sauce. Despite its affordable price, you can still choose from wonderful desserts prepared by pastry chef Jemil Gadea, which includes profiteroles filled with Gianduja chocolate ice cream, a citrus-laced lime bar, or one of the pastry chef’s daily selection of sorbets.
Red Light Cocktails & Dessert Bar
Sometimes a craving for a decadent sweet or creative cocktail is what you need and Red Light is more than happy to oblige. They have been serving both for a while now, but have really upped the ante with the appointment of Alina Bothen as the new executive pastry chef. Aaron Gordon of Gordon Restaurant Group announced her appointment on March 16 and she comes bearing sweet treats to tempt even confirmed dessert skeptics. Ms. Bothen’s desserts have an international palate and reflect D.C.’s diverse culinary influences like her Indian rice fritters prepared with basmati rice, cardamom, curry mango, and chai-infused Anglaise sauce; moist olive oil cake with fresh grapefruit and grapefruit tarragon sorbet; and matcha green tea cake with red bean ice cream, coconut tapioca sauce, and almond soy gelée.
With the introduction of new desserts it’s only natural Red Light’s bar manager, Jonny Fellman, would feel compelled to create some masterful drinks to pair with the new sweets, and his lineup is just a little naughty with drinks like the Peep Show that includes gin, Pimms, lemon juice, cucumber, mint, and ginger beer; the fragrantly floral Magdalene, which is made with gin, elderflower liqueur, and lemon juice; and the mysterious Mata Hari that’s an enigmatic blend of whiskey infused with Vindaloo curry, apricot liqueur, and lemon juice.
Last week’s menu report included tasty news about Tico’s new fried chicken menu, so this week we decided to feature lead bartender Christine Kim’s original cocktails. Each one has a distinct point of view and reference people, places, and motion pictures. For starters, consider Two Birds: a bubbly cocktail that’s a quenching blend of housemade kumquat syrup, lemon-infused vodka, and sparkling wine. Film buffs that dig 1980s movies will get a kick out of Ponyboy’s Social, which is an homage to The Outsider, S.E. Hinton’s best-seller that was later adapted into a seminal brat pack film by Coppola. It’s made with bourbon, cherry puree, Benedictine, lemon, and chocolate mole bitters. Word of Mouth is a Latin twist on The Last Word cocktail that instead of gin uses mescal along with green Chartreuse, lime, and vanilla to create a smoky and alluring conversation stopper. If these offerings just aren’t your cup of tea, try 4 O’clock Somewhere – it’s an ode to teatime in England and has zippy notes from bergamot-scented Earl Gray tea plus American gin, dry vermouth, and lemon.