Toast of the Town Washington, D.C. Lights up the Capital

Thousands of wine and food lovers celebrate with Wine Enthusiast in the capital city.

The spectacular, warmly lit columns, arches and sweeping expanse of the National Building Museum was the site for Wine Enthusiast’s 11th annual Toast of the Town event, held on May 20 in Washington, D.C.

More than 1,200 guests had the opportunity to taste 500 wines from around the world. Hogue Cellars solely represented the wines of Washington State, pouring samples including their 2009 Genesis Riesling and the 2007 Genesis Meritage. Herdade do Esporão featured several white and red blends from Portugal’s up-and-coming region Alentejo. And Australia’s Yalumba was a crowd favorite with their 2008 Patchwork Shiraz.

Event sponsor Spiegelau provided wine glasses to use during the event, and sponsor Saratoga Spring Water distributed bottles to quench guests’ thirst in between tastings.

Spirit-minded attendees flocked to sample Crop Organic Vodka’s flavored versions made with tomatoes and cucumbers, and a cocktail crafted with the elderflower-scented Farmer’s Botanical Gin (see recipe below.) Sam Adams served up several brews including Summer Ale and Wee Heavy Scotch Ale.

Erik Holzherr, owner of popular D.C. bars Wisdom, Fruit Bat and Church & State, partnered with Bluecoat Gin and Leopold Bros. Liqueurs and created a signature cocktail for the event (see recipe below.) “I thought [TOTT] would be a perfect event to showcase both American small batch distillers, and what better place to pay homage to American spirits than in our capital?” he said.

Thirty-five Washington, D.C.-area restaurants provided samples of their cuisine. Chef Christophe Poteaux of Bastille served Rabbit Rillettes with radishes and baby mustard green salad, cornichons and housemade mustard. “We are very focused on wines, and this event is an excellent opportunity to meet our customers and new customers who are in the know about wines,” said Poteaux.

Indique Heights’ Chicken Nilgiri Khorma was a flavorful, aromatic combination of cilantro, coconut, garlic and spices. The Broad Branch Market was no doubt inspired by a local specialty with its Mini Maryland Crab Cakes and Chilled Sweet Corn Soup Shots with green chiles. And SEI’s Tuna Watermelon—complete with cured tuna, jicama, radish and kumquat, topped with watermelon consommé and foam—was light, fresh and a delightful preview to summer’s produce. Carmine’s, with locations in New York and Washington, DC, also participated, and CEO Jeffrey Bank noted that this event is an “honor for Carmine’s because The Toast of the Town observes the efforts and gourmet dishes of the top restaurants in the area.”

The David Bach Quartet provided live jazz throughout the evening, and near the end of the event an impromptu dance floor sprung up adjacent to the band and the large interior fountain.

Event sponsor OpenSkies, the all business-class airline with service from New York and Washington, DC to Paris, hosted a chic lounge on the mezzanine level with wine, seating and a raffle to win two round-trip tickets to Paris.

To top off the evening, attendees tasted sweet endings like cupcakes from Crumbs Bake Shop, and handcrafted artisanal chocolates from Zoë’s Chocolate Co.

The 2011 TOTT series continues in Chicago on June 17 and Miami on September 23. In each city, the event is held in a setting of historic and/or cultural significance. For more information, visit, or call 800.847.5949. 

St. Gin

Courtesy of Chatham Imports, Inc.

1½ ounces Farmer’s Organic Gin
1 ounce elderflower liqueur
¾ ounces lemon juice
Healthy splash of ginger ale

Add the first three ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with the ginger ale and stir gently.

The Hill’s Edge

Courtesy of Erik Holzherr, Owner/Mixologist of Wisdom, Fruit Bat and Church and State in Washington, DC.

¾ ounces Bluecoat Gin
¼ ounces Leopold Bros. American Orange Liqueur
1½ ounces pressed apple juice

Cherry soaked in Leopold Bros. Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur for garnish
Add all except garnish to a cocktail shaker. Add ice and stir well. Strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with the soaked cherry.

Published on May 24, 2011

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