At Del Campo, the grilling’s not just done in the kitchen – the char is also behind the bar.
By Kelly A. Magyarics
During a recent dinner at new South American restaurant, Del Campo, our server primed us on the menu by reminding us that every dish has touched the grill. A quick peak confirmed that. And it’s just not the obvious steaks and sausages served tableside on the asado; even the ceviches are kissed by the flame, and the many grilled veggie options (loved the cauliflower and rapini) could turn anyone into a willing vegetarian. And that trail of smoke also leads to the back bar, as Del Campo offers up cocktails with grilled lemon and lime juices, and syrups infused with wood. I asked bar manager Kristy Fourie what makes her thirsty on the current drinks menu, and how she’s inspired by the sizzle.
Washington Life: What currents trends inspire you behind the bar?
Kristy Fourie: I’m happy to see D.C. growing stronger with our local foodies. We have an awesome selection of farmers’ markets that have accessibility to local fruits and herbs for infusions; it helps making seasonal changes a necessity for all bar programs. Also, D.C.’s liquor laws are in favor of the craft cocktail, so it’s nice to see some spirits being made here in the city. I love how we are making craft cocktails in batches, punches or bottles now to help avoid the buzz-killing wait for a good cocktail.
WL: Name a few of your favorite drinks on the menu and tell us why you’re a fan.
KF: I love the A Las Once—it’s so bright in color from the chicha morada, purple corn and pineapple base syrup, and Aguardiente helps give that needed kick. This is a spirit you don’t see enough on cocktail menus but it makes sense for us because Argentinians love it. The Viñador is a twist on a mimosa. We use a sparkling wine that has been infused with honey and green tea, add strawberry purée and a splash of grilled lemon juice. Sweet and refreshing, it screams summer time! The Classic Mojito is a drink that too often is made wrong, either too sweet or too sour, or worst, made with bottled sour mix. We make the classic Mojito right and it’s fantastic.
WL: What techniques and/or ingredients are you showcasing right now?
KF: We just want to make sure the drinks are close to perfect and consistent. We jigger all the cocktails and carefully select the ice to avoid water ruining a good drink. Syrups consume my prep, and we are using more of a gum recipe. And instead of doing simple syrup with a 1:1 water to sugar ratio, we are doing 2:1; less in this case is definitely more. And just adding a little smoked apple wood gum syrup adds a lot of flavor without adding too much volume.
WL: Talk about how charred/smoked ingredients factor into your cocktails. What do they add to them and what challenges do they pose?
KF: We help abuse the cast iron grill for sure. We are using grilled lemon juice in two cocktails and in one mocktail, grilled pineapple syrup, and grilled grapefruit and lime juices. We are also doing smoked apple wood simple syrup. If we can think of grilling or smoking anything else we will add it to the next cocktail menu. The only challenges we have run into is the amount of prep time we need, and the juice having a murky instead of clean look. Also, when we grill garnishes their shelf life is short.
WL: What do you like most about your bar that you would like readers to know?
KF: [Chef] Victor [Albisu] has created a beautiful restaurant that many say is fancy, but it’s warm throughout the bar and restaurant. It’s a welcoming atmosphere where we want everyone to come whether you are coming from a sporting event, work or the opera. Just come and enjoy yourself and feel comfortable. I have worked with a very talented mixologist and friend, JP Caceres to create a fantastic beverage program and also a first class bar team.
Fourie shared the recipe with me for her Muchas Uva cocktail, whose name means “many grapes” in Spanish. She blends Pisco with agave and fresh juices, and floats a little Malbec-infused syrup on top.
Muchas Uva Cocktail
Courtesy of Kristy Fourie, Bar Manager at Del Campo, Washington, D.C.
1.5 oz. Bar Sol Pisco
1 oz. white grape juice
½ oz. agave nectar
½ oz. lime juice
1 oz. Malbec syrup (see Note)
In a shaker tin, combine the Pisco, white grape juice, agave nectar and lime juice. Add ice, and shake until well chilled. Strain over ice into a rocks glass. Using a spoon, float 1 oz. of Malbec syrup on top.
For the Malbec syrup:
Combine 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of Malbec in a sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a boil until all of the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool. Store the syrup in the refrigerator.