The OpenTable Blog

Election Drinks and Dishes: Red or Blue, It’s Up to You

Every four years, autumn shepherds the start of election season. As the leaves turn colors, so do cocktails and specials in restaurants around the country. In honor of that and National Voter Registration Day, we present election drinks and dishes that embrace the spirit of the campaigns and the candidates. Unsurprisingly, you’ll find many of these specials at restaurants in our nation’s capital.

SideBAR, New York, New York
This Union Square sports bar is game on with a couple of fun presidential candidate cocktails. They are: Hillary Clinton’s Secret Server, an Apple Martini which gives a nod to her stint as the Big Apple’s Senator but which also features blackberries because, well, you know. And, wait for it…The Donald Drumpf, a towering Apple Pie Punch (Amaretto, Sour Apple Pucker, and Goldschlager with gold flakes, and served in a Mr. Potato Head.) The cocktail is priced at $50 “because like Trump, it’s ‘huuge’,” says a restaurant spokeswoman. Oh dear. Make a reservation at SideBAR.

Election Drinks and Dishes

Del Frisco’s Grille, Hoboken, New Jersey
Del Frisco’s has debuted political burgers — The Donald and The Hillary — nationwide in its 21 restaurants “to give diners the chance to enjoy a couple of classic American burgers before moving to Canada.” Order The Donald and you’ll get a well-done prime beef patty (he’s known to order steaks well done), aged cheddar cheese, heirloom tomato, and Bibb lettuce on a gold bun served with a side of tiny pickles. The Hillary burger is classified — Grille guests can send an email to TheHillary@dfrg.com to receive burger details. Oh boy. Make a reservation at Del Frisco’s Grille.

Election Drinks and Dishes

FireLake Grill House, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The bar team here crafted a cocktail menu inspired by this year’s presidential mix: Feel the Bern, (Illegal Mezcal Joven, fresh lime juice, Sprite, and sriracha hot sauce). For the Republican presidential candidate “that always must have the last word,” FireLake came up with the Last Word, pictured, (J. Carver Grimm Farm Gin, Green Chartreuse, Luxardo, and fresh lime juice.) And, as a shout out to Ted Cruz being born in Canada, there’s the Maple Leaf cocktail with Evan Williams Bourbon, lemon juice, and maple syrup garnished with a cinnamon stick. Make a reservation at FireLake Grill House.

Election drinks and dishes

The Grill Room, Washington, D.C. 
Executive chef Frank Ruta of this D.C. politico favorite restaurant in the Rosewood Hotel has curated Red and Blue Plate prix-fixe lunch specials. A sampling: from the Red Menu, you’ll find the Texas-Style Pulled Pork Sandwich on Texas Toast. From the Blue Menu, check out the Maine Lobster Salad. And bartenders Cecilio Silva and Ismael Barreto crafted three election-themed cocktails to pair with the lunch specials — Thyme to Decide (gin, honey syrup, lemon juice, and blackberries, garnished with a thyme leaf), The Green Card (vodka, lime juice, simple syrup, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, and Blue Curacao, garnished with blueberries and lemon twist), and Pacific Blue (Mescal, honey, lime, ginger syrup and garnished with a lime wheel and basil leaves). There’s also weekly informal polling to see which cocktail gets the popular vote, too. Make a reservation at The Grill Room.

Election drinks and dishes

Lincoln, Washington, D.C.
This restaurant is a shout-out to Honest Abe, and if you cast your order for one of the presidential cocktails through Election Day, your sip preference will be tallied on a blackboard at the bar. The results of the cocktail voter poll are updated every Friday on the restaurant’s Facebook page. Drink choices include The Trump Tower, a smug twist on the classic Negroni with Earl Gre- Infused Absolut Elyx, Aperol, and Dolin Blanc. Hillary’s Inbox features nonclassified ingredients — Absolut Elyx, Drambuie, Blue Curacao, Orgeat syrup, lime juice, and soda. Make a reservation at Lincoln.

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Specials in Baltimore: Diners Can Now Book Special Menus, Dishes + Pairings at Select Restaurants

Did you ever wish you had information about a restaurant’s specials before you arrived? Now that’s possible, thanks to Specials in Baltimore, a new feature.

Specials in Baltimore

In the mood for authentic Maryland crab cakes? Have an appetite for a perfect plate of seasonal pasta? Whether you’re seeking out a special menu, dishes, or pairings, specials can help you quickly connect with what you crave at great prices in the Baltimore area — and make a reservation for that experience!

Restaurants showcasing specials include Cosima, Birroteca-Bel AirForno Restaurant & Wine Bar, and more.Continue Reading

Flavors of the Forest Cocktails: 7 Sips Offering a Taste of the Trees

Bar stars are looking to the wilderness for some of their most innovative new cocktail flavors. They are using a variety of tree components – from wood and bark to flowers and branches. Here are 7 flavors of the forest cocktails branching out from tradition to offer tipplers a taste of the trees.

Betony, New York, New York
Juniper berries have long been used as an accenting component, spicing up brines, providing a botanical backbone to gins, and adding a forest-y flair to game dishes. However, it’s unusual for the coniferous tree to provide the focus flavor. The Grand Cru Cobbler defies convention by featuring it three ways: juniper needle-infused gin, juniper oil, and juniper berries. Make a reservation at Betony.

Flavors of the forest cocktails

Cucina Enoteca, Newport Beach, California
These days, inspired bar types are infusing everything into bourbon – from bacon and tobacco to espresso and basil. Bartender Tucky Dias roots his Arbor Manhattan in tree bark bourbon. He rounds out the woodsy concoction with Amaro Averna, Antica sweet vermouth, and a few dashes of Angostura bitters. Make a reservation at Cucina Enoteca.

Flavors of the Forest Cocktails

American Cut, New York, New York
Order the Plank Smoked Old Fashioned and you’ll get a show, too. After mixing together bitters, simple syrup, and Bulleit bourbon, the bartender quickly torches a maple plank. As the wood smolders, a glass is turned upside down over it. With the smoke still lingering, a large ice cube is added to the glass and the cocktail is poured in with a showy flourish. Make a reservation at American Cut.

Flavors of the Forest Cocktails

Sable Kitchen & Bar, Chicago, Illinois
Spruce up your G&T routine. The Spanish-style gin and tonic – served in a goblet, of course – features Beefeater 24 gin, Q tonic, and fresh cranberries. The cocktail is completed with a few small boughs of spruce tips to reinforce its herbaceous tones. Make a reservation at Sable Kitchen & Bar.

Flavors of the Forest Cocktails

Annex at GreenRiver, Chicago, Illinois
Look into the bottom of the Delicate Refusal and you’ll see a pickled sakura blossom. Over the pink cherry tree blossom, mixologist Julia Momose pours a complex mixture of sotol, tequila blanco, fino sherry, pamplemousse, apricot, verjus blanc, and Peychaud’s Bitters. The resulting cocktail finely balances saline, smoke, acid, fruit, and herb notes. Make a reservation at Annex at GreenRiver.

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Magical Mystery Tour: Behind the Scenes at Minibar by José Andrés

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“This is the part of the day most people don’t ever get to see,” says head chef Josh Hermias, as he ushers me into Minibar by José Andrés, the what-you-see-isn’t-always-what-you-get wonderland of molecular gastronomy and avant-garde cooking. It’s the shining crown jewel of the Spanish-born, James Beard Award-winning chef’s restaurant empire, which includes D.C. standard setters Jaleo, Zaytinya, and Oyamel, China Poblano in Las Vegas, Miami’s Bazaar Mar, and others.

On this late August afternoon, Minibar’s open kitchen, the counter surrounding it where will guests will sit that evening, and the semi-private dining area off to the side – dubbed José’s Table – are all ablaze with activity. (Not much can happen in the incredibly compact, unexposed back area of the restaurant, as there’s only room enough for a small counter, two ovens, an impressively tiny walk-in freezer, and the washing station). Approximately a dozen staffers are getting ready for tonight’s epic epicurean experience when 24 diners will enjoy a 26 to 28-course tasting menu. Hermias estimates it takes in excess of 140 man-hours just to make the six-hour dinner service happen. A crew of half a dozen begins working at 7AM; the last team member doesn’t go home until 3AM the following morning.

Clad in black aprons over white shirts, the cooks are currently prepping an array of components. Wending our way through the kitchen, we see chicken skins frying, chocolate eggshells being poured, and the legs of langoustines being snipped off with a small pair of scissors. One staffer shaves mounds of black truffles. Meanwhile, the orchids that decorate the space during dinner service rest in the window to get some light.

As we’re walking around, a cook presents Hermias and me with slices of super juicy watermelon to approve for use. The rosy wedges will be infused with tequila and Grand Marnier, and then served on a salt block. “It’s like a margarita,” says Hermias, who gives them the thumbs up, “but instead of a salted rim, your plate is the salt.”

A dry erase board catalogs all the work that needs to be done today: 30 marinated rabbits, 26 blowfish, 105 cauliflower leaves; the list goes on. A nearby chalkboard bears a quote from recently departed chef Michel Richard, “People love to get something that looks like one thing and tastes like something totally different. That’s truly magical.”

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