The Sakura Haiku cocktail at Quill, inside The Jefferson.
Sparkling drinks aren’t just a celebratory symbol of the giving season—they’re also “uniquely American,” says Firefly (310 New Hampshire Ave. NW, 202-861-1310) bar manager Jon Harris. The trend is that effervescent cocktails are making a strong showing around Washington lately, and it’s practically a requirement to have at least two kinds on the menu.
It’s a good thing, since more patrons are requesting these types of libations, says Sofia Celasco, food and beverage manager for The Jefferson (1200 16th St. NW, 202-448-2300) “They like] the mouth feel of bubbles and the tingly feeling on your tongue. We have one of the best wine lists in DC, so we love to use cocktails that we can balance even better with sparkling ingredients.”
To achieve the kind of effervescence that elongates a drink and makes it fun to sip, inspired bartenders are mixing everything from sparkling wines like prosecco and Champagne to tonic, beer, and house-made sodas—and even charging entire cocktails with CO2.
And sure, a Moscow Mule served extra cold in a copper mug may seem summery, but with spiced simple syrup and house-made ginger beer, it’s a perfectly satisfying tipple throughout the holidays and winter months, says the drink’s creator, Taha Ismail, beverage director for Graffiato (707 6th St. NW, 202-289-3600), Kapnos (2201 14th St. NW, 202-234-5000), and G (2201 14th St. NW, 202-234-5015). So is the Smashing Pumpkin, Ismail’s mix of rum, maple syrup, and lemon juice, topped with seasonal pumpkin beer.
Another tasty option for chilly nights? The warming Indifferent Unicorn cocktail concocted by Range’s (5335 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 202-803-8020) head bartender, Owen Thomson: It features pisco, green Chartreuse, lime juice, hellfire bitters, and 3 Stars Peppercorn Saison ale, which has a “deep and complex herbal composition,” he says. Plus, using beer instead of sparkling wine gives it a “slightly softer carbonation.”
With their growing popularity, expect to see these drinks on menus throughout the winter. “There’s nothing better than sparkling cocktails,” notes Ismail.