One of my major foodie-ish interests is cocktails, and while I've always enjoyed a wee tipple, my specific interest came about through a somewhat unusual activity: Listening to liberal talk radio. You see, former Air America radio host and current MSNBC TV personality Rachel Maddow is, aside from being both the brightest and funniest voice in contemporary political commentary, a serious cocktail geek. I can't say for sure whether it was a natural evolution of my interests, or just a manifestation of my fanboy crush, but once I heard Rachel talking cocktails, I knew I had to learn more.
They say the sun is always over the yardarm somewhere in the world, and cocktails — including recipes, recipe reviews, and bar reviews — will be a regular feature here, but I'll start with a couple cool places I went in Alexandria on the trip I mentioned in my last post: First was the Columbia Firehouse Restaurant and Barroom, which featured a great menu of the very classic cocktails I'd heard Ms. Maddow wax rhapsodic about. I selected a Sazerac (one of Rachel's faves, and the first thing I've ever had with absinthe in it) and then, just because the name is irresistible, a Moneky Gland. Later in the week, I came back for a Moscow Mule, a favorite of an old friend of mine. (I also ate there, but that's for another post.)
But further down King Street was the real find: A shop called The Hour, which features true vintage and vintage-style barware and bar furniture, along with artwork, books, jewelry, and all things related to cocktail culture. I wasn't in a position to invest in any vintage glassware (it wouldn't have done well in my suitcase!), but I had a lovely time wandering around the shop, taking pictures, and chatting with owner Victoria Vergason. I wish I were local, as they apparently host tastings and other events. You can bet that The Hour will be the first place I look when it comes time for me to outfit a proper home bar. In the meantime, I settled for enjoying the ambiance, along with treating myself to a copy of Dale Degroff's The Craft of the Cocktail as a souvenir of my visit.