Craft distillers spend years honing the flavor of their products - only to have bartenders obscure them with fruit juices, bitters and sodas.
Adam Chumas, beverage director for Tom Douglas Restaurants, says he and his bartenders were cognizant of the need to "allow the spirits to shine" when designing cocktails for this Friday's "Washington Distillers Cocktail Party," featuring eight drinks made with local spirits.
"For instance, I'm dealing with Skip Rock vodka," Chumas says. "It's a potato vodka, and it's really unique. It tastes earthy; it has a terroir. I wanted to keep it simple, so I mixed it with sherry and sweet vermouth."
Brandon Gillespie, managing director for Oola Distillery, says he doesn't mind when drinkers use Oola's newly-released gin in their Bronxes and Pink Ladies: "Ultimately, what I want is the person drinking the beverage to enjoy what they like," he says. But he says Oola's gin is ideally paired with ice.
"We did suggest that's how it performs best," Gillespie says.
Oola sold out its first batch of gin in four days, and is on the cusp of selling out its second batch.
"We underestimated it," Gillespie says. "We thought the vodka would be the winner. But our gin is not as juniper-heavy as most, and I think that's why people have gravitated toward it."