Cocktails, kicked up frozen treats and boozy milkshakes to celebrate the annual Cherry Blossoms.
By Kelly A. Magyarics
Whether you decide to stroll around the Tidal Basin and see them in person, or catch the cam from your couch, cherry blossom fever has hit Washington. This week marks the peak of the yearly festival (April 3 to the 6 are considered the best days for viewing), and the weather in the District looks like it’s going to be pretty cooperative for sneaking a peek at those delicate pink flowers. After you Instagram the requisite blossom pics, head to one of these bars or restaurants for a liquid creation inspired by the flower-turned-fruit:
Jon Arroyo, Chief Mixologist & Beverage Director at Founding Farmers and Farmers Fishers Bakers, created a Mexican-style frozen treat to commemorate the nearby blooming trees. Available at Farmers Fishers Bakers (3000 K Street NW, 202.298.0003), the Yo Quiero Paleta Cerez freezes up sour cherries, rice milk, vanilla and Tequila Blanco. I sampled it a few weeks ago—it was refreshing and deceptively potent. Though the weather was less than cooperative the day of my visit, it would no doubt have tasted even better had it been enjoyed from one of the restaurant’s patio tables overlooking the water.
J & G Steakhouse (515 15th Street NW, 202.661.2440) is offering up two beverages in celebration of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The 515 Manhattan Sundae is a fun twist on the classic Manhattan, with cherry sorbet, 515 Catoctin Creek Whiskey, whipped cream, a meringue of orange bitters and dried orange chips. The Cherry Yuzu Rickey adds a spritz of their tart housemade cherry yuzu soda to the cocktail; guests can also order the soda sans booze for an unleaded fizzy treat.
The two restaurants at Loews Madison Hotel (1177 15th Street NW, 202.587.2629) are both boasting cherry sips on their menu. The Federalist is serving its cherry bounce, an eighteenth-century method of preserving late harvest fruit, made by infusing fresh cherries, sugar and brandy. You can sip it solo, or in the Yoshino cocktail. Named after a naturally-occurring hybrid flowering cherry tree in Japan, the drink mixed cherry bounce, DiSaronno Amaretto, roasted almonds and cream. Postscript is featuring two cherry-inspired cocktails: the Sakura (the traditional name for all flowering cherries), mingles Jim Beam Red Stag with a brandied cherry reduction and Szechuan pepper buds, while the Wild Blossom mixes 44 North Rainier Cherry Vodka, peach nectar, Schichimi (Japanese seven-spice powder) and lime.
The Park Hyatt (1201 24th Street NW, 202.789.1234) has the Blossom on the menu, with Prairie Vodka, Cherry Heering Liqueur, cherry blossom syrup, Amarena cherry, lemon bitters and soda water.
The Cherry Blossom at 701 Restaurant (701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, 202.393.0701) uses DOC Prosecco, fresh vanilla bean and a house made cherry syrup.
The Perfect Cherry Manhattan at Bombay Club (815 Connecticut Avenue NW, 202.659.3727) stirs Bulleit Bourbon, Dolin Dry Vermouth, Lazzaroni Maraschino and a dash of Old Fashioned Bitters.
Pizzeria Orso in Falls Church (400 South Maple Avenue, Falls Church, VA, 703.226.3460) is touting a “boozy slushie for the big kids”. The Cherry Bourbon Slushie features cherries, Bourbon, fresh orange juice and lemonade.
Trummer’s on Main (701 Main Street, Clifton, VA, 703.266.1623) is also appealing to the kid in all of us with several boozy milkshake recently added to the menu, including the Cherry Blossom with Tequila, Combier, cherry and jalapeno.
Francesco Amodeo, the founder of the recently launched Italian-inspired artisanal liqueur company Don Ciccio & Figli, has partnered up with bar manager Sean Macpherson of Room 11 to create the Angelina. The drink features Don Ciccio & Figli’s Finochietto (fennel) liqueur, Cognac, lemon juice, cherry shrub and Peychaud’s Bitters. Amodeo shared the recipe with me when I recently toured and tasted at his D.C. distillery:
Courtesy of Francesco Amodeo and Sean Macpherson
1 ½ oz. Cognac
1 oz. Don Ciccio & Figli Finocchietto
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
¼ oz. cherry shrub (see Note)
Dash Peychaud’s bitters
Cherry, for garnish
Add all except garnish to a cocktail shaker. Add ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry.
For the cherry shrub:
Combine 1 cup pitted cherries and 1 cup sugar in a bowl and stir. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until the cherries start to emit juice and form a syrup with the sugar (about a day). Strain out the solids and press lightly on the cherries to get any remaining syrup or juice. Add 1 cup red or white wine vinegar, and stir to combine. Pour into bottle, cap and shake vigorously, and store in refrigerator. Shake daily; after about a week the acids in the juice and the vinegar should dissolve the sugar.
Kelly Magyarics is a wine and spirits writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter @kmagyarics.