The Nation’s Capital is awash right now with delicate cherry blossoms, bathing the area around the Tidal Basin in pale pink. DC mixologists turn to the trees for inspiration, creating spirited drinks with cherry and floral components. But just like the fleeting blooms, these cocktails won’t linger much longer.
The Drink: Bloom (recipe below)
Maker’s Mark Bourbon gives a kick that’s balanced by delicately floral elderflower liqueur, the bite of fresh ginger and a trio of juices (lemon, guava and cherry). Cherry Heering Liqueur slowly poured into the glass gives a light to dark transition in color. The cocktail is shaken and garnished with mint leaves and a pick of cherries.
Where to Find it: Jackson 20, Alexandria, VA
The Inspiration: Mixologist Marcus Garner only needed one glance at the blooming trees across the river. “With the transition in color completed with the garnish, I felt it resembled a cherry blossom tree from the darkness of the trunk to the dark and light pink colors of the branches.”
The Drink: Sakura
Wokka Saki, a blend of vodka and sake, is infused with Bing cherries, shaken with ice and served in a hand-blown Eisch breathable sake glass. Mixologists use the molecular gastronomy process of spherification to create the garnish—caviar-like orbs filled with sour cherry purée.
Where to Find it: TenPenh, Washington, DC
The Inspiration: In Japanese, “Sakura” means “cherry tree.” As Bar Manager Brennan Adams explains, “The drink is meant to acknowledge their generosity and the beauty they’ve brought to the city by incorporating a traditional Japanese drink with cherries, which symbolize their gift.”
The Drink: Cherry Town
Ria Freydberg steeps sliced Bing cherries and rose petals in simple syrup, mixes it with raspberry vodka, Fee Brothers Cherry Bitters and orange juice, and serves the drink on the rocks with a cherry garnish.
Where to Find it: Restaurant 3, Arlington, VA
The Inspiration: “It’s spring, the cherry blossoms are out and I wanted to make something airy, light and floral,” says Freydberg. “The cherry and rose flavors complement each other. You get an understated and aromatic hint of rose.”
The Drink: Cherry Pie
For this liquid white-chocolate covered cherry, Bar Manager Simo Ahmadi infuses vodka with split vanilla beans, then adds Cointreau Noir and a house made concoction of white chocolate, Chambord and Cherry Heering Liqueur. It’s served straight up, with dried Bing cherries for tartness.
Where to Find it: Equinox Restaurant, Washington, DC
The Inspiration: After the restaurant’s Winter Chocolate Hour, Ahmadi was looking for a transitional spring cocktail to showcase cherries yet still hint at chocolate.
Courtesy of Marcus Garner, Jackson 20, Alexandria, VA
2 oz. Maker’s Mark Bourbon
¼ oz. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
¼ oz. Cherry Heering Liqueur
¼ oz. Freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ oz. Guava nectar
¼ oz. Cherry juice (or grenadine)
2 “coins” (cut circles) of fresh ginger
Mint leaves and a pick of cherries (for garnish)
Ice down a martini glass. In a mixing tin, add ginger coins and cherry juice or grenadine. Muddle thoroughly and add ice. Add bourbon, elderflower liqueur and remaining juices. Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Sink the cherry liqueur into the glass slowly to give the cocktail a transition in color from dark to light. Garnish with two fresh mint leaves on the rim of the glass and a pick of cherries along the top.
Kelly Magyarics is a wine and spirits writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, DC area. She can be reached through her website, www.trywine.net.