DC Harvest (517 H St. NE, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, website), the family-owned H Street restaurant, recently introduced its fresh new spring cocktail menu. The spot focuses both its constantly-changing food and drink menus locally and regionally, with emphasis on local, as it partners with urban farms across the District. Barred in DC was invited by Jared Ringel, who opened DC Harvest with brother Arthur in September 2014, to sample these new cocktails at the cheery yet cozy bar and they didn’t disappoint.
Many, if not all, of the $12-14 cocktails make heavy use of local spirits as well as herbs, fruit, and vegetables. Two cocktails use a “boosted” Kentucky Gentleman bourbon- the only mainstay on the menu, the Kentucky Windage (the bar’s smooth version of an Old Fashioned) as well as the most popular drink on the menu, the Smokey Robinson made with mexcal, 5 spice syrup, lemon juice, and smoked lemon. By “boosted,” Jared told us, means that the bar has put the bourbon through a charcoal filter, added tinctures, herbal extract, homemade bitters, and other secret flavors. It’s a creative way of creating a “local” bourbon from a cheap bourbon when most whiskey is made elsewhere anyways.
Many of the cocktails were bright and colorful. Particularly gorgeous were the Strawberry Field, made with Ivy City Gin, fennel liquor, lemon juice, and roasted(!) strawberry puree, and incredibly tasty; the refreshing BWB Blood Orange Fizz, mixed with Peychaud aperitivo (think Aperol but lighter), blood orange juice, rosemary syrup, and cava sparkling wine (made in conjunction with the Bitches Who Brunch blog; Barred in DC is waiting for a bar to create something terrible and nonsensical in his honor-hint hint); and the 517 Blossom.
The latter drink is a popular holdover from Cherry Blossom season but is well worth it as one of the more inventive but delicious (possibly healthy, but who cares) drinks had in recent memory. A rare cocktail on a menu made with scotch whiskey (specifically, McCelland’s Highland scotch) that is not a Rob Roy, the rest of the drink is made with Leopold Brothers Cherry whiskey, Lyon Distilling (out of St. Michael’s, MD) Curacao (orange peel liquor made from its rum), sweet vermouth (house-made from rose), and the kicker, roasted beet puree. This drink is incredibly light, herbaceous, and beautiful. If you’re not a beet fan, don’t worry, it’s not overpowering.
Also well worth your while is DC Harvest’s version of a Dark & Stormy, the Chesapeake Storm, which is kegged with Lyon Aged Rum & Lyon Curacao, with ginger syrup, lime juice, salt, and candied ginger lime added after it comes out of the Darth Vader draft tap. Incredibly refreshing is the incredible riff on a margarita, the Agave Dream, made with tequila, cucumber water (not just cucumber-infused water), lemon jam, salt, and cucumbers. As Mrs. Barred in DC remarked, it is a “Lady’s Version of College in a Glass.”
These cocktails can be had for 30% off (so, about $8-10) all night Sundays; drink specials also include 30% off select draft beer on Tuesdays, 30% off bottle of wine on Thursday, and daily HH specials (5:30-7p) including a selection of cocktails for $8, $6 beer and wine, as well as appetizers and cheese plates. Jared is also a big proponent of the DC Passport Program, which launches Friday May 26th, and will provide passholders (cost-$20 for passport) a visit to the bar with 2 cocktails for the price of one. The well curated draft beer list include a lot of local beers (think 3 Stars, Hellbender), though refreshingly the options are often more unique than you’d expect.
DC Harvest is known for its popular brunch (it expands its hours starting May 26th, serving Friday lunch) and great food (from chef Arthur), so the appetizers/sides we sampled, including the mussels and asparagus, were characteristically tasty. Daily specials include 30% off vegetarian entrees/sides on Mondays and 30% off all fresh pasta on Wednesdays. With a Whole Foods just a few feet away and large apartment buildings sprouting across the next block over (Jared told us of some cool partnerships DC Harvest has made with these spots, including creating a garden/herb plot on the rooftop of the nearby Apollo), DC Harvest is perched to be a solid anchor on mid H (Barred in DC just coined this phrase, deal with it) as it quickly bridges to the bar district on the east side.