08 February 2015

DC Part I: White House Clichés, Epic Burgers and Civil War Cocktails

The last time I went to Washington, DC, was in 1995 on a family holiday. The only two things I remember are: 1) getting a military-style dog tag with my name on from a Smithsonian Museum and 2) arriving at the wrong Hilton hotel (the one with the swimming pool) only for my parents to have to break it to their two grumpy kids that we were, in fact, staying at the other Hilton (sans piscine).

Two decades later and the trip is already going much better. Yesterday, I arrived at my hotel, near Logan Circle, just before 4 pm and immediately headed out on a shopping mission: I needed some new lightweight running shoes for travel and decided to take the risk of buying them here. After a brief detour and some clichéd photos at the White House's South Lawn, I finally found a pair of turquoise and pink Nike Frees. Success!

I also paid a visit to one of my pre-selected coffee destinations, Slipstream, which is actually a coffee bar by day and cocktail emporium by night -- in other words, my perfect venue. I got a Colombian pourover to go and it was excellent, constituting the first part of my anti-jet-lag remedy; I look forward to returning to sample the cocktails.

If I had realised that it was going to be such a stunning sunset, I probably would have postponed my mission but alas, I was doomed to capture generic DC streets in the gorgeous pinky-purply light.

After a very long day, I was in serious need of dinner, so I made my way to Duke's Grocery, which, I had read, serves one of the best burgers in the United States. They also serve a pretty mean blackberry bourbon lemonade, which I sipped at the zinc bar while I waited for my Proper Burger: a double beef patty with melted gouda, charred onions, sweet chilli sauce, garlic and bacon. Initially, I thought it was good but not great, but by the end, I was convinced: the Proper Burger is one of the best burgers I've had in the US. Juicy, flavoursome and delicious. Duke's says it models itself on London's Brick Lane but it's actually much cooler, combining great food with that effortless American casual chic.

After dinner, I had a brisk walk over to indie bookstore Kramerbooks, which was, to my delight, bustling on a Saturday evening. Better still, they were playing The Cure, The Smiths and other favourites of mine. I browsed for a while and then headed to my final destination for the evening, McClellan's Retreat, a very cool Civil War-themed cocktail bar. I couldn't choose between the 39th Infantry and the Barren Hill, but in the end the pistachio and the bar tender's recommendation led me to opt for the latter. The pistachio and the vermouth (Carpano Antica) contrasted nicely with the rye and the single-malt whiskey. If anything will get me through the jet lag, this baby will!

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you had a great trip (yes, I know, it's the first post, but I've been going backwards through them!). Lovely sunsets too. I hope I catch a few next month.