With about two weeks to go until Washington D.C.'s highly anticipated new restaurant Rogue 24 opens, Derek Brown—the District's most vaunted mixologist mind—has unleashed his cocktail program. The creations are designed to go with the food of chef R.J. Cooper, who plans a 24-course tasting menu, with diners sitting around an open kitchen. (The restaurant offered New Yorkers a pop-up preview at LTO on the Lower East Side earlier this summer.)
"I've always been curious about new methods of delivery and texture," said Brown. "I want the cocktails in the salon to present a narrative and to incorporate new techniques and ways of thinking about cocktails, but stick firmly to the principles I've gleaned from the classics." He also said he was interested in "a story embedded in the cocktail."
Creativity and a narrative can be found in a menu entry called Three Martini Lunch. The cocktail consists of three smaller-than-usual Martini glasses. The contents look identical, each as transparent as the next. But the first is a classic gin Martini, the second a Daiquiri made of filtered aged rum and clarified lime juice, and third a "white" Manhattan made with white dog, Dolin blanc vermouth, apricot eau de vie, orange bitters and smoky Scotch. "It's about getting people to try these classic cocktail all over again," said Brown. "If you see the Daiquiri on the menu, you might think of something with strawberries in it coming out of those slushy machines. Here, you get to try it anew."
Last Night's Party, meanwhile, tells a tale through edible visuals. Ingredients are arranged to look like a messy morning-after scene as a swank bash. The top edge of a glass filled with Coteaux Champenois is edged with a paste of creme di cassis made to look like lipstick traces. Another champagne glass nearby appears to have fallen over and broken. The shards of "glass," however, are really pieces of crystalized cassis. The glasses are paired with an ashtray with cavier in it, and Crème Fraîche that looks like a cigarette.
Brown's Pimm's Cup (seen above) comes in solid form. "We take Pimm's and turn it into jelly. We infuse cucumbers with gin." Meyer lemon foam, micro-orchids and ginger beer complete the picture. "Solid cocktails are nothing new, but there is certainly room for elaboration," said Brown. "I had an idea: what does a Pimm's Cup looks like under a microscope."
Brown is aware that some of these processes may not necessarily strike the cocktail-savvy as new. "RJ is fond of saying that nearly all experimenting has been done, and it's now time to apply those experiments. It's using all the tools available to me to delight the guest and offer them an experience."
Brown will train Rogue 24's cooks to make the cocktails, which will be put together at a particular station.
For the less adventurous, there will be beer and wine. Cocktails will be about $12-$14, with some of the more elaborate drinks such as "Last Night's Party" being a little pricier. Here's the complete list:
Horton Viognier (VA), Elderflower Cordial, Compressed Melons, Grapefruit Bitters
Boyd & Blair Vodka (PA), Passionfruit Puree, Lime & Coconut Cream, Citrus Charcoal
Bluecoat Gin (PA), Gooseberry Syrup, Lime, Q Tonic, Gooseberries, Chive Blossoms
Pimms Jellies, Cacoctin Creek Gin (VA)-infused Cucumbers, Lemon Foam, Micro-orchids, Ginger-lemonade
Dogfish Head Brown Sugar Rum (MD), Strawberry-Balsamic Shrub, Lime, Dried Strawberries
Texas Is the Reason
Balcones Blue Corn Whiskey (TX), Hickory-Smoked Cola, Blue Corn Flowers
Pepper & Pepper
James E. Pepper Bourbon (KY), Sirop de Gomme, Fig Bitters, Lemon Peel, Black Pepper Tincture, Brandied Figs
Cacoctin Creek Rye, Gran Classico Bitters, Dolin Dry Vermouth, Orange Peel
Elderflower & Tonic
"Three Martini Lunch"
Dry Martini, Clarified Daiquiri, White Manhattan
"Last Night's Party"
Coteaux Champenois, Cassis Lipstick, Cassis Crisp