Counter Intelligence

My Favorite Things

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on October 12, 2009

A more casual Bernbach poses for Darrow Montgomery, Washington City Paper

A decidedly more casual Bernbach poses for Darrow Montgomery, Washington City Paper

On one of the first cool nights of the season, the Coltrane version of My Favorite Things was playing at Proof as I walked into the bar early last week.  “It’s not on our usual playlist,” said Bar Manager and cocktail maven Adam Bernbach, who was wearing a fabulous tie, half-windsor–which I did not know right off, though recognized it wasn’t a four in hand. “Full-windsor is triangular. Big. Like as big as your head,” he joked, admitting he didn’t yet know how to tie full-, though others on staff don the formal knot.

Bernbach’s fall cocktails are fittingly stylish for this sartorialist. I loved the Mirrorball named for the Everything But The Girl song. Made with Riesling, Blume Apricot Eau-de Vie, honey syrup, lime juice, egg white and bitters–the acid from the Riesling delivers a “pinprick” on the tongue as opposed to the “stiletto” of a Sancerre. Another favorite of the group, which included Kelly Magyarics and Amanda McClements, was the yet to be named drink, now dubbed Apertivo Ambra– a Campari-soaked sugar cube, Dolin sweet vermouth and Botter Prosecco.

Leave it to Bernbach to create a cocktail that tastes like a less-sweet Tootsie Roll, a clever adult Halloween treat. It’s the Timba, made with Cirrus potato vodka, tamarind & black cardamom syrup, Assam tea, Fee Bros. chocolate bitters and soda water.

And then there’s the ass-kicking New England 1773–Rhum Neisson Ambre, maple syrup and Bittermen’s mole bitters. “What IS that?” I asked, flinching from and seduced by a sip. “It’s the booze,” suggested Amanda. Bernbach was nice and said the rhum was “wild” and “reedy” to make me feel like less of a lightweight. Crowd pleasers also include the Bees Knees, a favorite at Bar Pilar, Bernbach’s former haunt and the Hitachino Hi-Ball, served with Fever-Tree tonic water. I loved the drink, but miss the owl.

This past July, Bernbach joined Proof’s effortlessly stylish team, which includes chef Haidar Karoum, GM Michael James, Wine Director Sebastian Zutant and the inimitable Mark Kuller, proprietor.


2 Responses

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  1. Tom said, on October 27, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Full windsors are scary things, generally favored by the villains in Ian Flemming’s old Bond books. Unless you have a secret arctic lair (or bought one of those very wide-collared Italian shirts in a fit of hubris at Nieman’s last chance sale) one should probably steer clear.

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