Cocktails today are much more than a jigger of spirit and a splash of bitters. “Mixologists” are utilizing fruits and veggies, exotic spices, herbs and other ingredients typically found in the kitchen. There are a few bartenders in DC who are uniquely qualified to experiment because they have culinary degrees. Carlie Steiner graduated from the Culinary Institute of America Hyde Park in 2012 and now tends bar at Barmini by José Andrés. “It gives me an edge when it comes to flavor profiles and product knowledge,” she tells us. As far as cooking, she does that for friends and family and assures us “I can still throw down in the kitchen.”
Ping Pong Dim Sum’s new beverage director, Chris Bassett, has also worn a chef coat. He graduated from Le Cordon Bleu Miami. “I want to tell up-and-comers in the bar scene to go to culinary school instead of bar-tending school,” he tells us. Chris comes to Ping Pong from PX, the acclaimed cocktail den in Alexandria, VA, where he also learned a thing or two from Todd Thrasher. We snapped him as he poured an Asian Pisco Sour made with pisco, yuzu, ginger, egg white and bitters.