From using sound waves to accelerate the aging process of bourbon to drip- feeding rum through a homemade fusion of spices – bar staff at the 5-star Ritz Carlton in Washington DC’s trendy West End really take their mixology seriously.
Standing in the gleaming marble lobby is what seems on first glance to be a grandfather clock, but upon closer examination turns out to be laboratory-like glass cylinders encased in a tall, wood-framed container.
Inside rum percolates slowly over eight hours through a mixture of spices and at precisely 5.30 every evening, the rum, thus richly infused, is ready for serving, with a ceremonial gong announcing a free sampling for all guests.
Beyond the lobby, in the soft, mellow light of the Quadrant Bar and Lounge awaits another surprise, something one would expect to see in a bank but not in a bar – a heavy metal vault with an old-style combination lock. While the contents may not be money, they’re every bit as valuable to Rodrigo Solari, the hotel’s Chile-born food and beverage supervisor, for inside is his most prized liquors, including a 35-year-old Teeling Irish whisky valued at 1,200 dollars.
Further efforts by bar staff to entice guests is not just a drinks menu but a veritable cocktail book, including a compilation of the favorite tipples of US presidents for more than 100 years.
For a bit of fun and entertainment, order a Smoked Old Fashioned and you’ll enjoy a marvellous tableside flambé experience, one that enriches the taste of smooth bourbon, house-made smoked syrup and cherry bitters combo.
Another choice worth trying is the hotel’s special sound aged Negroni – gin, sweet vermouth, campari and American oak soaked in cabernet. For a more exotic island flavor, try the rum spiced with cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, vanilla bean and orange peel. Imbibing beside the open fireside makes the experience even more memorable.
Soothing cocktails are not the only treats in store for guests at the Ritz Carlton.
With indoor and alfresco seating options and young Missouri-born Benjamin Melville chef eager to experiment with new combinations, the hotel’s West End Bistro proved to be a relaxing lunch venue for my companion and I.
A short, focused menu included two starters, English pea soup and Maryland crab cake, five salads and eight entrees. Diverse fish and meat dishes ranged from entrees lobster po’boy, generous chunks of lobster filling a soft bread roll, and the hotel’s tender seven hills hanger steak with a bowl of crispy kale as accompaniment. Spiced lamb wrap, with chickpea spread, cucumber yogurt, fresh cilantro on naan bread and seared prawn with coconut rice, chilli peppers, green curry, pears and crispy Garlic, are other enticing alternatives.
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Gleaming bright colors, including lobby furnishings, fabrics and fireplaces, create a warm welcome for the eyes while our room, one of 300 guest rooms and luxury suites, provided ample space and comfort, plus premium Asprey toiletries. For major events, the hotel offers renovated meeting spaces and a 10,500 square foot ballroom.
Aside from food and beverage staff, high quality service is also exemplified by friendly, Daniel, one of around 20 clefs d’Or in the capital city, who was extremely well versed on the latest, and best, theatre shows and events.
Location is a major plus for the Ritz Carlton, situated as it is beside Georgetown, among the tree-lined district of Foggy Bottom, within walking distance of Dupont Circle, Embassy Row and a number of monuments and cultural attractions, an ideal place for both leisure and business travellers.