Drink Your Way Through Election Season at Bastille & ENO Wine Bar

It’s a time honoured tradition in Washington, DC. We like to drink. We like politics… so every election cycle, whether it’s the primaries or the general, local bars come up with politically-themed cocktails. If you’re like me and less than thrilled with your options this year (not that I can vote anyway), I’m sure you can use a stiff drink, or five, with a cheesy name poking fun at the candidates. I love it, especially when an awesome French restaurant gets involved. 

Bastille is one of my favourite French restaurant in the city… well, technically it’s not in the city but right outside in Alexandria, VA. It’s definitely worth a metro ride to Braddock Road though, and that’s saying a lot given how bad WMATA is these days!! There’s 47 days until Americans head to the polls (and 59 until I do! That’s right, I get to vote in November too, but in the French Republican presidential primary). With election season in full swing, Bastille has designed a cocktail for each candidate, even the long shot ones like the Green Party’s Dr. Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson

Deluded little Manhattan cocktail at Bastille Restaurant

“Deluded Little Manhattan” with Korbel Brandy, Dolin Rouge, Dolin Dry + Belle Orange Absinthe Rinse

The Crooked Cocktail features Dewar's White Label, lemon cordial, Allspice Dram garnished with lemon peel and a cherry

The Crooked Cocktail features Dewar’s White Label, lemon cordial, Allspice Dram garnished with lemon peel and a cherry

My favourite of the five different cocktails offered is the “I Vote Canada.” Leave it to a French restaurant to come up with none-of-the-above option, bien sur 😉

I vote Canada! (flee the country vote) cocktail at Bastille Restaurant wth Crown Royal, lime juice, a dash of Allspice Dram and Angostura bitters.

I vote Canada! (flee the country vote) cocktail at Bastille Restaurant with Crown Royal, lime juice, a dash of Allspice Dram and Angostura bitters.

Regardless of who wins the election, Canada always seems like a good idea to me!! Each cocktail is priced at $10 and from October 4th through November 8th, the restaurant will keep a tally, or “straw poll” if you will, based on popular demand. Will the results match those at the ballot box? I guess only time will tell!! 

Of course, Bastille is hardly the only bar offering its boozy take on the presidential race. Like I said, this is a time honoured tradition in the city, and pretty much every bar is getting in on the pun-tastic action. 701 Restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue got inspired by the candidates’ slogans to create “Make America Grape Again” and the “I’m With Her” (both $12). Shaw’s Mexican eatery Espita Mezcaleria and the Oval Room are all about that wall, with “The Wall” (mezcal, Campari, orange juice and soda – $11) and the “Build That Wall” (Muscat Grape purée, spiced honey syrup, Champagne vinegar – $12) respectively. So far, I don’t think the newly open Trump International Hotel bar at BLT Prime by David Burke is doing anything, but Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons Hotel is. And for election 2016, the Georgetown establishment is not picking sides and throwing it back to past Commanders-in Chief instead. Head bartender Torrence Swain crafted four specialty presidential cocktails inspired by the drinking preferences of James Buchanan, Harry Truman, Herbert Hoover and Dwight Eisenhower. At $20, those are pricier, but $5 from the sale of each former president-inspired cocktail will go to the nonpartisan organization Nonprofit Vote, which aims to assist other organizations integrate voter engagement into their ongoing activities and services. If you’re more of a wine person like I am, the hotel’s wine bar, ENO, has something for you too! From now until election day, you can select one of two presidential candidate inspired flights, each priced at $20 and featuring wines from locations significant to each party’s nominee. 

Presidential Candidate Wine Flight at ENO Wine Bar - Picture Courtesy of ENO Wine Bar

Presidential Candidate Wine Flight at ENO Wine Bar – Picture Courtesy of ENO Wine Bar

The Clinton “I’m With Her” flight features white wines from New York state, where Clinton served as senator for eight years and include:

No Arkansas wine? Shocking lol. Meanwhile, Trump’s “Make America Great Again” flight features red wines from New York and Pennsylvania, where Trump attended University:

I must say I’m a little surprise that flight doesn’t include any wine from the real estate mogul’s own winery in Virginia… Putting two Pennsylvania wines on there seems to guarantee no one is going to order it… which might be the point I guess? Both flights will be available from October 1–November 8, and the winner’s flight will be served through Inauguration Day.

Have you spotted any other fun election-themed gimmicks at bars and restaurants around the city? Or wherever you live… I know it’s corny, but I kinda love it, especially since picking a drink or wine flight is the closest I’ll get to voting in the US elections 😉 

 

Saying Adeus to the Olympics with Caipirinhas

Caipirinhas on the roof, a slight twist on my traditional rosé on the roof ;-)

Caipirinhas on the roof, a slight twist on my traditional rosé on the roof 

While I haven’t really followed the Olympics over the last two weeks, I’ve loved seeing the spotlight back on Rio de Janeiro and it’s brought back some great memories of my trip there two summers ago. My husband and I headed to Brazil for the World Cup in 2014 and even got to cheer for France at Maracanã Stadium. Well, I cheered more than he did, of course 😉 

Cheering for France at Maracanã StadiumCheering for France at Maracanã Stadium

In addition to Rio de Janeiro, we also traveled to Belo Horizonte where we cheered on England even though it was already eliminated from the tournament, the Minas Gerais where we witnessed what it’s like to be in a really small town when Brazil wins a game and Foz do Iguaçu on the Argentine border where we saw that it was like to be in Brazil when they lose 7-0 to Germany and get booted out of the tournament they’re hosting). One constant throughout our trip: caipirinhas, the country’s most famous cocktail. After a long day of navigating a country that can be difficult at times, with only rudimentary Portuguese and a French guide du routard to guide you, plus a nervous husband who’s not a great traveler, caipirinhas (yes, plural!) were just what I needed to relax. 

Caipirinha with a view (of the Municipal Park) at Hotel Belo Horizonte Othon Palace

Caipirinha with a view (of the Municipal Park) at Hotel Belo Horizonte Othon Palace

 Rio de Janeiro unnamed-3

Rio 2016 sand castle
One of the souvenirs I brought back from Brazil was a bottle of cachaça so I could indulge in some of the country’s flavours back in Washington, DC. Cachaça is distilled from pure cane juice and taste a bit like rhum agricole. It’s not widely available in the United States, and when it is it costs a lot more than it sure and that’s a shame because Caipirinhas are a ridiculously easy cocktail to make, requiring just 3 ingredients (muddled lime, cachaça and sugar.) Here’s what you need to make the classic version of the cocktail at home:

1-2 limes, cut in quarters (plus an additional slice for garnish)

1-2 tablespoons of white sugar

2 ounces of cachaça (approximately 6 CL)

Start by muddling the limes and the sugar at the bottom of a cocktail glass or in a shaker. You basically want the juice to mix with the sugar before adding the cachaça and further mixing or shaking. If using a shaker, pour the content, including the crushed limes into a short glass filled with crushed ice. If you used a glass directly, just add some crushed iced to it before serving. If you want the drink to be a little less potent, you can also add a splash of perrier lime sparkling water before serving. You can also, as is often done in Brazil, add fresh fruits to the mix like crushed pineapple or passion fruits (though those are even harder to find here it seems than cachaça.) And if you’re hosting a large party and don’t want to bother making individual cocktails, Caipirinhas work really well in a pitcher too, just quadruple the recipe. And if you can’t get your hands on some cachaça swap in some vodka instead and make it a caprioska!

Toasting the Olympics with Caipirinhas

Saúde and obrigada for the memories Brasil

For Your Consideration – the Brooklyn Cocktail

It’s Oscar time! Have you seen Brooklyn? The coming-of-age period drama about a young Irish immigrant blossoming in 1950s New York City was one of my favourite films last year. As an expat, I loved and related to the delicate way the film covered the immigrant experience and in a sea of rather bleak movies I appreciated the optimism of its characters. Also, Montreal plays the title role of Brooklyn!  The boarding house where Saoirse Ronan’s character, Eilis, lives in Brooklyn is actually the Memorial Chapter House of Montreal’s Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, on McGill University’s campus!

The Brooklyn Cocktail

The perfect drink to celebrate this best picture nominees is the classic cocktail that shares its name: the Brooklyn. It’s not as well-known as its classic neighbour, the Manhattan*, but it’s just as good. Here what you’ll need for one cocktail:

2 ounces whiskey (Jameson or Teeling would be a perfect nod to Ireland here)
1 ounce dry vermouth
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur (I always love Leopold Brothers small batch liqueurs)
Dash of angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry. I used Luxardo cherries, and the brand also makes a great maraschino liqueur. In keeping with the slight cherry theme, I’ll be serving Brooklyns along with a twist on Pepperidge’s Dried Cherries Pecan and Rosemary Brie en Croute, a not-so-subtle homage to best actress nominee Brie Larson. 

Sláinte and good luck to Brooklyn tonight! Will you be watching the Oscars? What film(s) will be cheering for?

* While the Manhattan is the most famous, there are actually 5 five classic cocktails named after New York’s borough: the Brooklyn mentioned in this post, the Queens (a variant of the martini with pineapple juice), the Bronx (another variant of the martini but with orange juice) and the Staten Island Ferry (malibu rum and pineapple juice). Now you know 😉