A tale of two RAMMY-nominated cocktail bars

Bar Charley, Petworth Citizen show cocktails are indeed a craft

The nominations for the year’s most anticipated food and restaurant event is here, with the Washington D.C. area’s most delicious and creative restaurants in the spotlight. The 2018 RAMMY Awards, hosted by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, celebrates the diversity and expertise of D.C.’s most renowned food destinations.

Within the various categories, the Cocktail Program of the Year nominations are particularly eye-catching. Cocktails are always going to be a customer favorite but the mixology game this year is at the highest level. Take a look at Bar Charley in Dupont Circle or Petworth Citizen & Reading Room in the Petworth neighborhood. These nominees offer some of the most unique drinks in the city, with surprising flavor combinations and exciting twists on your favorite classic cocktails.

At Bar Charley, restaurateurs Jackie Greenbaum and Gordon Banks put together a classy but affordable cocktail program filled with fresh, tropical flavors to transport you away from the seemingly never-ending Washington winter. With 55 different options on the menu, Bar Charley has the best of both worlds, with a variety of fruity drinks as well as those that dabble in spicy, warm, and smoky flavors. Imaginative names give patrons a unique experience with every drink. For example, the “Cozy Wozy Fuzzy Wuzzy Yummy Yum Time Tea,” combines brandy and winter spices with fresh pineapple, mint, and lavender and is served hot—unlike your average iced drink. Some of the combinations might look daunting, like the Alpha & Omega which has egg whites, or the Quack Quackerac with duck fat infused St. Germain liquor, but leaving your flavor comfort zone pays off here.

If you like drinks that mimic a beachy paradise, the “Totally Tiki” section has you covered. Organized by texture and taste, these cocktails, served in tiki mugs, offer all-time favorites like Pina Coladas and Mai Tais along with upgraded versions of these drinks. Rum, pineapple, passionfruit, and coconut are featured in most of these drinks. They also serve a party-sized cocktail that serves two to four people and is served in a large tiki bowl.

The Scorpio Bowl, perfect for the post-work happy hour gang, mixes passionfruit, rum, bourbon, gin, fruit juices and ginger and is topped with bright pink flowers. If you want to stick to the basics but still want to give your taste buds a surprise, take a look at the extensive selection of martinis and Manhattans. Here you can find variations of your classic bourbon, rye, gin or vodka drinks infused with bitters like orange, angostura, and Benedictine bitters.


Over at Petworth Citizen & Reading Room, cocktail connoisseurs can find a quiet space in the Reading Room, a library-themed space. At Petworth, it’s not just the cocktails that make it special but the entire experience. Bartender Chantel Tseng of the Reading Room uses her favorite literature to create novel (pun intended) cocktails. Every week, the cocktail wiz creates a new menu inspired by the literature she reads during that week. The Reading Room also provides a variety of sherry, champagne, farmhouse craft beer, unfiltered Spanish cider and natural wines. Petworth has a selection of iconic cocktails on their seasonal menu, like the fresh and punchy El Diablo and the warm Monte Carlo Old Fashioned.

They also created the Highlander Fizz, which combines ginger syrup, lemon, basil and egg whites with scotch, giving these warm, earthy flavors an alcoholic kick. On the fruitier side is the Livener, with fresh raspberries and lemon paired with champagne and gin. Upon hearing about the nomination, Tseng was, “pretty surprised but certainly honored.” She said, “[Petworth] have a welcoming vibe, ranging from first dates to family outing with kids. Solo regulars are just as comfy as groups getting together on a weekend evening,” and that attribute makes them a neighborhood favorite.
These are just two of the five nominees. The passion and expertise of these bartenders and restaurateurs are evident in their drinks, and they elevate the D.C. cocktail scene with each compelling concoction.


Bar Charley, 1825 18th Street Northwest, Washington, D.C. 20009

Petworth Citizen & Reading Room, 829 Upshur Street Northwest, Washington, D.C. 20011

Author credit: Sonikka Loganathan

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