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Mixologist Adam Bernbach
Proof owner Mark Kuller (or whoever deserves the credit here) was smart to distance his Penn Quarter establishment from the wine-bar craze of a couple of years ago. Proof, the argument went, isn’t a place to stop and sip. It’s a full-service restaurant that just happens to have a wine list more intimidating than the federal tax code. I could understand Proof’s logic and its need to differentiate itself in the public’s mind. Trends are ephemeral. This place clearly wants to be timeless. Kuller’s restaurant displays his affection for things that have stood the test of time: You hear it in the Motown soundtrack. You see it in the National Portrait Gallery images rotating above the bar. You taste it (well, some of you taste it) in the vintage bottles on the wine list, like the 1961 Latour for $7,000 or the 1990 Petrus for $6,900. Timelessness, however, should not connote “old.” To understand timelessness is to understand that you have to create something original now, and hope it will then survive the ages. Or at least a season or two. Mixologist Adam Bernbach and chef Haidar Karoum are pushing themselves to create libations and dishes that we’ll be talking about for years. I know I’ve been thinking about Karoum’s Wagyu cheesesteak with provolone and jalapeño mayo ever since I tried it last summer. That’s a good start.
775 G St. NW (202) 737-7663