The 2011 RAMMY Awards nominations for cocktails are out so I thought I would check out the finalists for the Mixology/Beverage Program. In no particular order I have set out to give them all a try. My first stop was at Bourbon Steak where I reviewed "Is He Sharpe?". The DC cocktail tide then swept me to ChurchKey to put "Alewife" to the test. I then stopped over at Tabard Inn to try their "Perennial Tea." This week I stopped at Founding Farmers to try Citros Gengibre.
This was my first visit to Founding Farmers which is on Pennsylvania Ave., connected to the IMF headquarters and a block away from the World Bank. Its location in downtown DC/Foggy Bottom brings in a mixture of guests which was clearly defined by the first question the bartender asked me when I sat down at the bar: "Where you from?" I did a 360 and got the impression that this was more of an out-of-towner locale. Tourists, World Bank and IMF people and parents of GW students seemed to make up the majority of patrons. This didn't really detract from my experience but it had been a while since I felt like a foreigner in a local restaurant (except that one time I got a beer at the tourist-packed Hard Rock Cafe while waiting for a film to open at E Street Cinema - talk about going through a wormhole!).
With floor-to-high-ceiling windows, Founding Farmers is a brightly lit establishment that has a modern-rustic appeal with a design consisting of a mixture of reclaimed wood, cement, clean lines and modern furniture. Its menu is a mixture of sophisticated takes on American classics along with their own twists on rustic, Old World dishes highlighting the restaurant's use of local and sustainable ingredients.
The Citros Gengibre consists of Tres Generaciones Tequila, house-made ginger beer, simple syrup, grapefruit bitters, fresh grapefruit and lemon juices, Aperol and a splash of cherry brandy, garnished with mint. It has a bright orange-pink hue, giving it a summery appeal. On the nose it smells of citrus, blossom and herb garden. The juices, the Aperol (which one could compare to Campari in taste) and the grapefruit bitters give it a bitter-sour flavor structure balanced with the simple syrup. It has a distinct grapefruit undertone which mingles with the Aperol's notes of bitter orange. The tequila helps level the drink and gives it a clean texture, but is difficult to pick up. Tres Generaciones is about as good as you can get when it comes to tequila but I found its light and delicate flavors to be rubbed out by the other stronger ingredients. To me it's more of a sipping tequila. I didn't pick up any notes from the cherry brandy. The ginger beer acted as a mild sweetener but there were no solid ginger notes, which was a disappointment given that Gengibre means ginger in Portuguese.
I have to say I wasn't overwhelmed by this cocktail. There was no star of the show, no spirit or element that really defined the drink. The Aperol was probably the most distinct among the flavors but the other, more interesting elements fell flat. Cocktails should be well balanced but the other components should still reach out to greet your taste buds. This might sound odd, but it may have been too balanced with the ingredients almost canceling each other out, morphing into a homogenous flavor. It did have a bright, smooth taste with a clean finish, but the Citros Gengibre did not have any great depth to it - nothing that really awakened my palate. It was refreshing, one-note drink.