Bartender's Choice: What to Order this Fall at Ted's Bulletin in Washington, DC
You probably already know that the folks over at the 30s era inspired diner, Ted's Bulletin, make a killer alcoholic milkshake, but their bar is more than boozy shakes and homemade pop-tarts. Mixologist George Menold has been working hard on upping the cocktail game at Ted's to differentiate itself from other DC bars. To that end, Menold's been experimenting with a variety of techniques and ingredients, including barrel aging and infusions, plus a truly unusual ice program. In the works is a series of new concoctions for fall he hopes to unveil in time for you to sip during the elections.
Behind the counter, Menold has three American oak barrels: two 10 liter barrels and one two liter barrel. In the larger barrels, Menold is aging a sassafras whisky for fall and a gin that'll age for four months in time for spring. In the baby barrel, Menold currently has a Negroni, but it sometimes holds a single malt Yamazaki whisky. The Yamazaki is the foundation for one of Menold's favorite drinks: The Cocky Yamazaki. A slightly sweet whisky cocktail (it's finished with coriander-ginger syrup), the aging lends a subtle hint of oak and caramel that makes it great for brisk evenings (it's not on the menu, but available by request).
The barrels also play a major part in the ice program Menold is ramping up for the fall. In addition to aging spirits, the barrels will be used for barrel aging ice. He'll age a barrel of water for a few weeks before freezing it, which will add subtle oaky flavors to whatever drinks it's added to. A couple of other interesting additions to his ice program: hickory smoked ice and carbonated ice, things he's not seen anyone else do and is eager to bring to Ted's.
To give me an idea of what he's got planned for autumn, Menold pulled out a bottle of cinnamon infused tequila and a bacon infused bourbon. Combined with a variety of house made bitters, including interesting choices like a habanero shrub bitters paired with the cinnamon tequila to double down on the spice, he whipped up a few cocktails from notes in his "little black book of recipes." He's playing with a lot of warmth and spice that's especially suited for the chillier months. One curve ball: a sake cocktail made with cucumber and a single sphere of ice that would go down great after a crisp autumn morning at Eastern Market.