- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

At Quadrant there’s now a cocktail for every president, from the whiskey-producing Virginian George Washington right on up to the notorious teetotaler currently occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

And yes, for President Trump, mixologist extraordinaire Christopher Mendenhall has even fashioned a virgin drink. (The same goes for George W. Bush.)

It’s all a part of the fall cocktail menu and accompanying appetizers now on offer at Quadrant, the trendy and hip martini bar located on the ground floor of the Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C. — and which is now celebrating its second anniversary. And in addition to the elixirs Mr. Mendenhall has crafted for each of America’s 45 chief executives, Quadrant offers a delightful selection of food items to nosh on while conversing over a cocktail.

One thing that Mr. Mendenhall has become rightfully known for among D.C.’s happening bar scene is for the “smoking” he often applies to his cocktails by first putting match to a twig of cedar, producing an earthy, pleasant scent that the mixologist then captures in an overturned glass.



Accordingly, the Smoked Old Fashioned comes served up in a glass bearing that earthen, fiery essence. Into the glass then goes bourbon, house-made smoked syrup and cherry bitters. It’s divine, with the rather knowable taste of a pedestrian old fashioned simply elevated to cloud nine with the smokiness tickling both the nose and tongue with each sip.

Seated next to me, Victoria, unsurprisingly, opts for a gin drink. Her choice: Gin and Verjus, comprising gin, Campari, Verjus, sugar cane and mint.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s served in a grapefruit? Not a glass shaped like one, but an actual damn grapefruit!

This place operates on a whole other level.

As Vicky sips away at the mixed drink somehow magically encased in the grapefruit’s shell, we are recommended some appetizers from Chef de Cuisine JongJip Yang, like the mushrooms and market vegetables, both of which are expertly prepped and served. For protein, it’s hard to beat the delectable salmon crudo and ahi tuna, however, then comes the Harris ranch hangar steak — tender to the tooth and brimming with flavor complexity. This may well be the best steak offering I have yet found in my explorations of the capital’s dining scene. (A nice Cab or Merlot will complement it nicely.)

You can — and should — spend a few good hours at Quadrant either after work with your officemates or, better yet, with that special someone. And if you have some spare cash to toss about, ask Mr. Mendenhall about “The Vault,” an actual safe positioned amid Quadrant that warehouses some of the choicest boozes available (some he even must handle with special gloves). These you can sample at the bar or, if you’re feeling especially flush, purchase the entire bottle perhaps if you’re staying upstairs at the Ritz.

One of their prizes was a Bowmore 50-year-old Scotch, which will set you back a buck or two — er, 23,000 of them, to be precise — but likely will be a dram not soon forgotten. (Alas, someone has bought it, so you’re out of luck.)

Martini bars are tricky business, and need to walk a delicate path between being upscale and also welcoming. Quadrant accomplishes this delightfully, and anyone in the District would do well to return to sample as many of Mr. Mendenhall’s concoctions as possible.

Think about it: With 45 presidents, you can come back almost every Friday for a year to try them all. Just don’t do it all in one sitting, I beg you.

Quadrant is located inside The Ritz-Carlton Washington, D.C., located at 1150 22nd Street NW, Washington D.C., 20037. Go to RitzCarlton.com for more details.

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