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The drink: Bourbonesque
The location: Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert, 1190 22nd St. NW, (202) 974-4900.
The price: $12
The buzz: D.C. has never struck me as a town that hosts coked-up, see-and-be-seen, Gotham-style glamour events where hookers compete with barkeeps for a gentleman’s wallet. We do state dinners and spittle-spraying marches on the mall. But events that mandate slinky new cocktail dresses and wad of fresh Benjamins? Not really. That said, Thursday’s opening of Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert felt like an event, not that I noticed many hookers among the sea of humanity bobbing around the Ritz-Carlton (though maybe a few scenester whores). Ripert, New York’s darling of stove and small screen, was there, inspecting dishes in the kitchen and walking purposefully through the dining room, a graying pontiff in chef whites. When I arrived around 8 p.m., the place was booked solid for the entire evening; not even some late-night two top by the toilet was available. My only hope for food was a seat at the bar. I satisfied myself with a drink from the cocktail menu, which includes such concoctions as “Eric’s Primo Margarita” and the “Ripert Favorite” (Jose Cuervo Reposado with pomegranate and tangerine). I wasn’t about to suck on any Ripert-branded drinks—isn’t that like virtual sex?—no matter how many awards he’s won. Instead, I ordered the “Bourbonesque,” mostly because it seemed like such an odd mixture of winter and summer seasons. Served in a frosted martini glass, the drink combines Maker’s Mark with crushed ice, muddled strawberries, and maple syrup. It seems like the kind of syrup Dean Martin would pour over his pancakes after a night out with the Rat Pack, sweet but with a marked bourbon burn. The cocktail’s dandy for a few sips but gets boring fast. Yet I keep slurping on it, drawn to its continual sugar rush, not unlike that bowl of chocolates you can’t keep your hands off during the holidays. I have higher hopes for Ripert’s food, whenever I get to try it.