Josh Berner is lead mixologist at Zentan
These days at Ripple, [3417 Connecticut Ave, NW] there’s been a lot of change. A little over a year ago, Alison Reed came on board as the pastry chef. Then in February, the Cleveland Park eatery tapped Marjorie Meek-Bradley to take the reins as executive chef. To complete the trifecta, long-time Ripple bartender, Caroline Blundell, recently stepped in as Beverage Director. I caught up with the bar bigwig to talk tequila and find out what she has in store for her new job..
The management of Ripple is male, but with you taking over the bar, all of the people who actually make the food and drink are women. How does it feel to be a part of that?
There’s definitely a feminine edge to things right now — some of the garnishes on the food and more delicate arrangements of the plating. A bright future is upon us for all the creative minds at Ripple, Me, Alison and Margie. Yeah, it’s nice to have some female power in the house.
Outside of regulars at Ripple, people might not know you. What’s your bartending background? You used to run a tequila bar, right?
Yes, when I was 21, there was a guy who taught me how to bartend. He took a big chance on me and taught me a lot, which has made me successful as I’ve gotten older. Running that tequila bar and to be in the position to make decisions about what your customers are drinking, and what you want your staff to be informed about were definitely inspiring things to be doing as a 21-year-old. And now being here in DC and learning craft cocktails. People take it very seriously. It’s really nice to be in a culture where people do what they do with a lot of pride.
What’s your first step to putting your stamp on the bar program at Ripple?
I’ve been working with the classic cocktails and created a few spins on things. The cocktail I just released has reposado tequila, yellow Chartreuse, lemon juice and St. Germain. It’s kind of a sweeter twist on a Last Word cocktail.
Continues after the jump.
You recently took a vacation to Mexico. Has that influenced your cocktails at all?
The cocktails down there aren’t that crazy or out of the world. But the experience of being down there, what it felt like, had an impact. When you’re drinking those kinds of drinks it’s so refreshing. It can get so sweltering in DC that anytime you can bring a little Zen to someone’s life is a good thing.
Sounds like tequila has a big influence on you.
Tequila was the first spirit I ever fell in love with and became passionate about. I just enjoy sharing that passion and excitement with someone else.
So what tequilas do you recommend?
For shooting purposes, Don Julio Reposado is super smooth with just a little bit of spice. For a margarita, there are a lot of good value tequilas. I actually picked up a bottle of Lunazul blanco the other day for about $20 and made awesome margaritas. It has just a little bit of pepper to it, not too much.
Other than where you work, where do you like to go for a drink?
I don’t go out.
That’s alright, what do you drink when you’re at home?
I’m a sucker for Chardonnay and margaritas. I do a lot of Gran Classico, just a little on the rocks after dinner. If I have more than two glasses of wine at home, I just fall asleep on the couch and wake up with the cat on my head.