MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Up next, inside of the world of underground farmers' markets.
It's a lot of red tape in the city and it's just it's hard to get your foot in the door.
It's coming your way on "Metro Connection." You're on WAMU 88.5.
Welcome back to "Metro Connection." I'm Rebecca Sheir and today we've been going down the hatch exploring the D.C. region's vibrant and fast-growing food scene. So far, we've talked about local dishes and ingredients. We explored food trucks, food caravans. But now we're going to turn to another realm of the culinary landscape, one that can be stirred or shaken. We're talking, of course, cocktails and speaking of which, I'd like to introduce you to a guy.
MR. ADAM BERNBACH
Hi, how are you doing?
Good, how are you?
Great, come on in.
Thank you -- who knows a thing or two about all that. His name is Adam Bernbach.
And I'm the bar manager at Proof and Estadio, both are in Washington, D.C. Proof's in Chinatown and Estadio is on 14th Street, Logan Circle.
I met up with Adam at Proof where he's known for mixing creative liquid concoctions like The Dark Side.
And it's a Plymouth Gin with Barolo Chinato and Peychaud bitters with hot-spiced cherries.
What is Barolo Chinato?
It's a (word?) dessert wine from Barolo.
And The Shady Grove, is that a shout-out to our Shady Grove Metro there? Last stop on the red line.
It is and it isn't actually. It's a variation of a classic cocktail called The Shady Grove, but to be honest, yes, actually a few of us first started bringing it up and talking about that one because of that last stop.
But the reason I'm visiting Proof is to taste a drink that isn't on Adam's menu because we at "Metro Connection" have asked our master mixologist, who has lived in Washington about 15 years now, to whip up a cocktail that to him somehow captures -- Yeah, shall we just head back to the bar? -- D.C. and like Chef Scott Drewno, who we heard from earlier in the show, it turns out Adam is clearly inspired by the district's international character, too.
I decided to sort of go with something that highlighted an Ethiopian idea because obviously it's a sizable population. There's a sizable population of Ethiopian immigrants in other cities but D.C. is unique in how sizable that population is and I think we're really lucky.
Indeed the Ethiopian Embassy says about 200,000 Ethiopians reside in the D.C. metro area and we have oodles of Ethiopian restaurants, all of which serve dishes containing a spice mix known as Berbere.
It often contains cinnamon, fenugreek, cumin seed, black pepper. There's a whole bunch of stuff in it.
And now it's playing a starring role in the cocktail I'm about to drink. That's a flavor I'm not accustomed to experiencing in liquid form. I eat a lot of Ethiopian food, but I've never drunk it before.
Adam infuses the Berbere into Grappa, an Italian brandy, then he adds some lemon.
Then I make almost a classic sour, but grappa-based.
Some homemade spice syrup.
There are a few things in here that I just want to highlight (word?) to bring it up.
He gives the mixture that classic shake, pours it through a strainer, garnishes it with an orange peel and...
Thank you, wow, it's quite a taste sensation I have to say with a spiciness of the Berbere and the tanginess of the Grappa. The cocktail is both, I don't know, it's both savory and sweet.
It's such an interesting, earthy kind of blend and it's got that real, sort of, almost funk to it, like that it's just awesome. I love things that are really earthy and funky.
Well D.C.'s kind of earthy and funky in a way.
Absolutely, it really is.
And Adam says he's so proud to call this earthy and funky place home. After all, it's where he grew up.
I got here in high school so.
Those are very formative years.
Yeah, no, yeah their skulls are soft. (laugh)
And since those days, he's seen the growth of an impressive food and beverage scene, one he refers to as tirelessly evolving. To come down here and to work, you know, a restaurant right by where I used to, like, skateboard in high school and had to like, oh, it's seven o'clock I got to go. Like, that sun's going down, it's time to hit the bricks. And now it seems like every block there's a culinary restaurant opening or a cool, new bar and I get so amped up to go to new places and try new things.
And that he says keeps him in high, high spirits behind or in front of the bar. To see a recipe for Adam Bernbach's Berbere cocktail, visit our website, metro.connection.org
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