The Airs Up There, All photos by Greg Powers
From a press release:
“James Beard Award-nominated Columbia Room (124 Blagden Alley NW) welcomes the fall season with a new cocktail and food menu inspired by leaves and the richness of nature.
The new fall menu launches Tuesday, October 4 in the Tasting Room, Spirits Library and Punch Garden and the new food offerings mark the first menu from Chef Johnny Spero, who took over Columbia Room’s culinary program as executive chef this summer. Leaves are the centerpiece of the three- and five-course Tasting Room menu, with a diverse array of foliage being incorporated into the cocktail-and-small-plate pairings, including buchu leaf, sheep sorrel leaf, shiso leaf, fig leaf, blackberry leaf and sage.
The fall menu’s standout cocktail pairings include “The Sugaring Season,” made with Canadian rye whisky, dry vermouth, fenugreek leaf, fresh apple juice, acorn and maple syrup, served with eucalyptus-smoked trout, smoked egg and pine oil; “Almond Milk Cloud,” a mix of Sercial Madeira, fig leaf almond milk, orgeat, dried rose petals and fennel seeds, served with flower ice cream, candied Thai basil and balsam fir gastrique; and “The Airs Up There,” which is pisco, Andean leaves, lemon, pear, bitter almond, aquafaba and cinnamon ash, paired with sheep sorrel leaf, aged beef fat, sudachi and cucamelon.
Leaves also pop up in the Spirits Library and Punch Garden menus via cocktails such as the “Westerly Currents,” comprised of Trinidad rum, pandan falernum, lime, cane sugar and Peychaud’s Aperitivo and the “Dutch East India Company Punch,” made with batavia arrack, genever, clarified fig leaf milk, lemon, cane sugar, ceylon tea and mace.
“The fall menu is our most complex yet and also marks our most involved collaboration with the staff,” says head bartender JP Fetherston. “We took the idea of leaves to all of our bartenders and cooks and encouraged them to run with it. The result is an exceptional menu crafted by our incredible team.”
“When we were talking about leaves as a theme, the idea was to showcase the life of a leaf — starting out vibrant and green and aromatic and moving into the decaying, musty leaves you’d find on the forest floor,” adds Spero. “The way that JP and Derek (Brown, owner) look at cocktails is the same way I look at food, so it’s nice to put that collective thought to work.”
Columbia Room’s new fall menu will be available until the winter solstice in late December. The Tasting Room’s three-course menu is $79 plus tax and the five-course menu is $108 plus tax. Both are inclusive of gratuity and can be booked through www.columbiaroomdc.com. The Spirits Library and Punch Garden have open seating and reservations are not required.”