This week, it’s 5 o’clock pretty much all afternoon (and all day on Saturday and Sunday) thanks to this year’s DC Cocktail Week, running today through November 22. In 2020, this annual event run by Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) is being celebrated “with a twist.” In this case, that means less lemon peel and more Zoom.
The week is “one of the region’s most ‘spirited’ promotions that puts the spotlight on innovative cocktail programs across the region,” according to RAMW.
This year is a touch different: there are both in-person and virtual ways to take part. More than 75 restaurants and bars are participating in the program to celebrate cocktail culture and everything that it means. They have set up food and drink pairings for dine-in, outdoor dining, and takeout, as well as to-go cocktail kits for the home mixologist.
Just as interactive is a boozy lineup of “Virtual Cocktail Parties” that allow D.C. denizens to head to the bar to hang out with international talent. Conversations range from how to set up a home bar to crafting new drinks to the meaning of the cocktail community.
“DC Cocktail Week is a fun way for people to try something new and learn about cocktails, mocktails, and food pairing,” says Kathy E. Hollinger, president and CEO of RAMW.
On Wednesday night, DC Cocktail Week leans in to the 5 p.m. theme with “It’s 5:00 Somewhere in the World! Global Cocktails and Conversation from Capital Cities Around the World.” Bartenders from far-flung locales gather at the virtual bar to dish on cocktails in capital cities and how drinks reflect the people, culture, history, future and landscape of a place. Be part of the fun as Mr. Lyan his guest talents talk shop, make drinks, and share culture and recipes too.
Leading the conversation is Ryan Chetiyawardana, the “World’s Most Influential Bar World Figure” and winner of the 2020 Best American Cocktail Bar award for his Silver Lyan at Riggs Washington, D.C. Speakers hail from England, South Africa, Costa Rica, Singapore, and D.C.
On Friday night, D.C. social group Brightest Young Things and Bacardi will host “Community and Cocktails,” that speak on the community and home-away-from-home spirit of bars and restaurants. Bartenders, artists, and musicians will make this event even more lively. And Sunday afternoon, Derek Brown, owner of award-winning Columbia Room discusses low-proof and zero-proof drinks in response to the growing trend of these types of cocktails.
D.C. Cocktail Week recognizes that it’s tough to enjoy those tasting notes virtually, which is where those 75-plus restos come in. Beyond the staple vodka-sodas, these bars are uniting diverse ingredients. Anju, for example, is launching a new cocktail featuring a hot Korean barley tea with mezcal and persimmon liquor; it’s paired with an order of mandu (dumplings) for $13. Logan Circle’s Commissary’s cocktail is the Byrrh, it’s Cold in Here, with bourbon, basil, ginger syrup, lemon juice, and Byrrh Quinquina. Most restaurants are located in D.C., though there are a handful in the ‘burbs taking part as well.
Diners can view the list participating restaurants by visiting DCCocktailWeek.com and to register for the virtual events. Events are either free or require a minimum $1 donation to register, supporting the RAMW Worker Relief Fund. The virtual events require registration.