Locals Orr Shtuhl and Elizabeth Graeber recently debuted a new collaborative book, An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails, their whimsical look at some of history's most famous libations. Shtuhl (who pens the City Paper's Beerspotter column) provides the book's text and Graeber, an illustrator by trade, handles the artwork. Since they're drink experts, we asked the pair to chat about a few of their favorite cocktail spots. Below, their preferred watering holes and instructions on what to order.
Tryst: "Mainly for the environment; I like how the sofas and chairs are all mismatched. It's always a good place for people watching and drawing, and I like that they display new artwork by local artists."
Bourbon: "I like the casual environment, both at the Adams Morgan and Glover Park locations. Plus, it's a great brunch spot: I go for the Fritatta (with basil, goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes) and a sparkly mimosa."
Big Bear Cafe: "My favorite cocktail bar is one where you can talk to the bartender. I don't need a long menu, just someone who can find out what I like. The guys at Big Bear know the classics, and they're quick to dig out a dusty recipe like the Bronx, which is a semi-sweet perfect martini (dry and sweet vermouth) with a splash of fresh OJ."
The Passenger: "This is another place that values talented bartenders over a biblical cocktail list. Their chalkboard menu changes every day, which keeps me coming back. Well, that and my usual drink that they invented, which is a Pimm's Cup with a slug of Fernet Branca thrown in."
Proof: "Adam Bernbach, whose elixirs I've drank since his days at Bar Pilar, is a drink-maker I'd follow anywhere, but he's really found his calling at this wine bar. With sections for appetizing and finishing cocktails, his extensive menu leans heavily on wine-based apertifs and Italian amari, making for complex layerings of bitter and sweet. If you're stuck, order any drink with Barolo Chinato, the sweetly spiced digestif made with Italian Barolo wine -- it's the key ingredient in his signature drink, the Darkside."
Grab a copy of An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails ($25) at the authors' Etsy page and meet up with them on Monday, June 27 at the Passenger (7 p.m.), where they'll be wrapping up a local book tour.