It was nearly one year ago when I joined the Hungry Lobbyist team and embarked on a journey to find Kentucky-inspired food and drink in D.C. What began as a review of Southern Efficiency’s impressive Bourbon Heritage Month menu led me around the city – from discussions at the National Archives curated by Derek Brown, to Top Chef competitor Garret Fleming’s Barrel, to exclusive cocktail previews at Georgetown’s Bourbon Steak.
This year, my insatiable thirst for America’s native spirit has already brought me to new places and will continue leading me to old favorites. Here’s where you can find some of best sips of Bourbon Heritage Month D.C. has to offer.
The Whiskey Library at Bourbon
On September 8, I was invited to Bourbon in Adams Morgan for an event held by The Whiskey Library, a company focused on holding educational whiskey events at bars, clubs and even your home. The theme during my visit was “Bottled In Bond,” which means the bourbon was aged and bottled per guidelines established by the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897. Basically, it’s bourbon that was distilled during one season by a particular distillery, was aged in four years in oak barrels, bottled at 100 proof and has a detailed label.
Although the practice is a bit outdated, several distilleries still produce the bottled in-] bond label to demonstrate a commitment to timeless quality. While Brian and Tim, founders of The Whiskey Library, provided an entertaining and informative presentation on the topic, Bourbon’s kitchen served Southern-inspired dishes to complement the spirits. If you purchase tickets to a class held by this group (it’s a good life decision), here’s just a few of the pairings:
Homemade Biscuit with Fresh Honey Butter, Paired with Mellow Corn Whiskey
BBQ Wings Paired with Henry McKenna Bourbon
Waffle and Maple Syrup Paired with Old Fitzgerald Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon
What’s more impressive than how well the food and drinks complemented one another is the knowledge and passion exuding from The Whiskey Library team. From a fully-detailed menu to thoroughly answering questions about their favorite spirit, their events are genuinely educational and a great fall activity.
While Whiskey Library’s Bourbon Heritage Month event has passed, their October event is even more exciting. Join them on Sunday, October 9 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. for a walking whiskey tour and tasting at D.C.’s very own One Eight Distilling. Tickets are $40 and will certainly turn your Sunday into a funday.
D.C.’s cocktail king Derek Brown, and his fabulous staff at Drink Company, never disappoint when it comes to Bourbon Heritage Month. While their rolled oyster Kentucky hot brown (one of my very favorite bites in Washington) is always on the menu, a few Southern Efficiency specials are only available this month. As always, the cocktails are creative and some even based on interesting tidbits of Kentucky history.
“Governor of Rome”
Did you know that after the United States liberated Italy during World War II the interim Governor of Rome was from Kentucky? Probably not. But you do know bourbon, Campari, sweet vermouth and coffee liqueur are delicious.
Other Cool Cocktails and a Club
Copa Banana – A collaboration between two of Drink Company’s cocktail connoisseurs, Jackson Crowder and Paul Taylor. It’s essentially a Banana Bourbon Manhattan and definitely delicious.
Kentucky Breakfast Soda – Bourbon, maple syrup, orange bitters, Don Ciccio & Figli’s walnut liqueur and sparkling water? Yes please.
Bourbon Club – For enthusiasts who drink 8, 12 or all 34 bourbons on Southern Efficiency’s special menu, prizes will be offered. If you still haven’t completed your September #goals, this is a challenge worth pursuing.
While Chef Garret Fleming boasts a menu with complex international influences, Barrel is all in when it comes to Bourbon Heritage Month. In addition to their barrel-aged cocktails (get more details on their barrel aging program here) and mint julep (which I enjoyed during the Kentucky Derby), bourbon enthusiasts will find a few other specialty options the remainder of September.
Derby – Old Forrester, lime juice, sweet vermouth, clement creole shrubb and angostura.
Whiskey Smash – Bulleit, semon juice, simple syrup, soda water and mint.
Lion’s Tail – Old Forrester, St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram, lime juice, Small Hands Pineapple Gomme Syrup and angostura.
Renowned for it’s whiskey selection, Jack Rose has several lively events this week for Bourbon Heritage Month. Hit Thursday’s bourbon cocktail takeover by D.C.’s Dram & Grain, Friday’s unveiling of a collaboration between DC Brau and Bill Thomas’ (owner of Jack Rose) own barrel of Maker’s 46 bourbon, Saturday’s “Pappy Hour” — or just be a good American and go to all three.
As I’ve learned over the last year, you don’t have to be in Kentucky to enjoy this sacred month of bourbon heritage. Hit one of these spots and you’re sure to get that bourbon buzz we bluegrass natives love so much.