The Candidates' Cocktails

Sips inspired by political parties and candidates.


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Blue or red, left or right, Washington DC's cocktail lovers have plenty of choices this election season, as DC's watering holes offer concoctions inspired by political parties and candidates.

Near the White House at TenPenh, Bar Manager Brennan Adams' candidate cocktails debuted exactly two months before Election Day. The Bombay Sapphire-based Barack Obama is mixed with Fever Tree bitter lemon soda, and topped with a bundle of Thai basil, lemongrass and emerald caviar meant to evoke the image of a palm tree in the sand. "It's a visual reference to his formative years spent in Hawaii and Indonesia," he explains. The John McCain cocktail includes Wild Turkey 101, Ginger Lime Tea and Thai Basil. Adams felt the choice of spirit matched McCain's personality, maverick persona, and blue-collar upbringing.

Across the bridge, at Virginia's fyve Restaurant Lounge in Pentagon City, Maria Habershon and Robert Taylor also drew from the candidates' roots for inspiration.  Habershon says the addition of basil to the Barack on the Rocks "represents something different, out of the norm, exciting and refreshing." On the flip side, the traditional mix of gin, Cointreau and cranberry juice in the cosmo-like McCain Martini gives a nostalgic, predictable vibe. "You kind of know what to expect."

Topaz Bar, built on the same spot where Theodore Roosevelt once lived, invites guests to vote for their candidate by ordering the appropriately named (and colored) drink. True-blue Democrats sip the Double-Down Donkey, die-hard Republicans opt for the All-in Elephant, and those on the fence choose the Independent Player. For the truly undecided voter, Topaz offers a sampling of all three.

So are guests able to reach across the bar to find common ground in the glass? Adams says reading the bar menu at TenPenh typically brings on a few chuckles, and surprisingly, only about half of patrons order according to their party affiliations. Guests at fyve tend to order both drinks to compare, which leads to lively conversation and debate—the purpose, after all, of any great cocktail.


Barack on the Rocks
Courtesy of fyve Restaurant Lounge, Arlington, VA
1 ¼ oz. vodka
¾ oz. tropical fruit juice
½ oz. simple syrup
Club soda
2 basil leaves

Add ice to a rocks glass. Add first three ingredients. Stir, top with club soda and garnish with basil leaves.


McCain Martini
Courtesy of fyve Restaurant Lounge, Arlington, VA
2 oz. Hendricks gin
½ oz. cointreau
½ oz. cranberry juice

Add ice to cocktail shaker. Add all ingredients and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

 


 
 

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