COCKTAIL OF THE WEEK: POP UP
Washington is going pop! In what many consider a transient city, it only makes sense that pop-up retail stores and restaurants have been making a splash in the nation’s capital. Georgetown was treated to the Bloom pop-up shop and the Water Street Project art exhibition earlier this spring. M Street’s newest dining spot Bandolero hosted two pop-up previews before opening their permanent doors.
So as the summer heat climbs to scorching levels, what could be better than a pop-up tiki bar? In my opinion, not much until scientists figure out a way to create a pop-up Caribbean beach complete with swaying palm trees and cabana boys on the Georgetown waterfront.
Well the wait is over — for the tiki bar, at least. Washington bar chef extraordinaire JP Cacheres has transformed the roof top at Connecticut Avenue’s Dirty Martini, into a groovy, open-air topical- themed bar smack in the middle of downtown’s Golden Triangle. Caceres, the chief mixologist for Dirty Martini and founder of Let’s Imbibe, Inc., has spent months experimenting and conjuring up creative cocktails for his new space.
Everything is made from scratch — from fresh-squeezed juices, homemade syrups, hand-carved ice and more than 30 varieties of rum. The cocktail menu will continue to evolve with changing specials. This spot is perfect for the summer drinker who wants something more original and cultivated than a typical piña colada.
During my recent visit, Caceres was playing with an updated version the classic El Presidente cocktail, a refreshing blend of rum, grenadine, orange Curaçao and white vermouth. The El Presidente is a Cuban-born tipple that dates back to the heydays of cocktails. During Prohibition, imbibers from the states flocked to Havana to get their party on.
While many theories about the exact origin of the El Presidente swirl, Esquire cocktail editor David Wondrich believes it was created by Eddie Woelke, an American bartender at Havana’s Jockey Club. Woelke purportedly named the drink in honor of President Gerardo Machado, who ruled Cuba throughout most of the Prohibition years.
Caceres, who is known for his creative liquor infusions, pumps up this vintage potable with a pork-fat infused rum. Caceres starts with Appleton rum, already a full-flavored Jamaican spirit, and uses a fat-washing technique to infuse the liquor with a meaty goodness.
He begins by browning the pork in a frying pan until the fat is melted and liquefied. Next, he takes a sterilized canning jar and measures three cups of rum to which he adds one cup of liquified fat. The mixture is sealed and left to rest. The infusion process takes about five day to complete. The fat and liquid will eventually separate, with the fat forming a hard cover on top of the alcohol. To complete the process, Caceres skims the solidified fat from the top of the jar and strains the liquor through a double cheesecloth.
The second secret to this cocktail is the use of homemade grenadine. Caceres does not use premade syrup; instead he forges this mixer freshly from pomegranate. The finished cocktail is served in a retro tiki mug over crushed ice and garnished with a cinnamon stick for a touch of fragrance. Caceres’ creation results in many layers of flavor. The pork- fatted rum adds a richness that is balanced by the sweetness of the Curaçao. The grenadine, vermouth and aromatic bitters all contribute a bit of earthiness, a sight tartness and subtle spice. While there is no ocean to dip your toes into, sipping this cocktail will transport your taste buds to the sophisticated luxury of a Caribbean resort.
Readers can try the El President Gordo (Fat President) and other delicious Polynesian- and Caribbean-inspired cocktails Monday through Friday, from 5 to 10 p.m. on the rooftop at Dirty Martini, 1223 Connecticut Avenue, NW. ★
EL PRESIDENTE GORDO
1.5oz Appleton VX Pork Fat Infused (*)
.75oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
.50oz Orange Curaçao
1 bar spoons Homemade Grenadine
2 dashes Reagan Orange Bitters
Build drink in a tiki mug, swizzle over crushed ice. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.