Bernbach plans to feel out Proof before charging ahead.

After a brief hiatus from the bar, mixologist Adam Bernbach, a twicedecorated City PaperBest of D.C. winner, takes up the shaker again tonight as he begins his latest gig as bar manager at Proof, the wine-centric Penn Quarter restaurant, which is suddenly cocktail cool, too.

Bernbach will assume the mixologist duties from Proof’s wine director Sebastian Zutant, who was no slouch with the cocktail shaker himself.  Proof’s Web site notes that “Bernbach will work closely with Executive Chef Haidar Karoum to craft a cocktail menu that utilizes fresh, seasonal ingredients and integrates with Chef Karoum’s creative, modern cuisine.”

I e-mailed both Proof owner Mark Kuller and Bernbach via facebook — such serious reporting techniques, yes? — and asked if Bernbach might have some surprises for his fans tonight.  Kuller had his doubts. “I’m dubious you willl [sic] see major moves in the first week as he acclimates himself to the job,” the owner wrote.

Bernbach echoed that notion in his thoughtful response:

Unfortunately, I don’t feel comfortable giving up any information about what will be on the cocktail list in the next few weeks. I very much want any cocktail at Proof to be a natural extension of the restaurant. I strongly believe that great restaurants, like Proof, have distinct identities. That when somebody walks through the door, everything that happens (be it food, drink, or interaction) should all be a logical part of the experience. While I have some things ready, I am concerned that if I’m rash, they will come off as out of place.

Guess we’ll just have to belly up to the bar to see what Bernbach has in mind, which is hardly a problem. But I also wanted to know what attracted Bernbach to Proof. Here’s what he wrote back:

What drew me to Proof was the identity we spoke about earlier. I’ve always been a fan of the restaurant. It’s one of my favorites. I love the people involved. Some of them I’ve been friends with for a long time. I think Mark’s philosophy on restaurants is very similar to my own. So, with all this, it became clear that Proof would be the ideal fit.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery