The Somm Journal

Dec 2016-Jan 2017

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Page 85 of 100

{ }  85 Now, The Watergate Hotel lives again, evoking the past and future in equal parts. The curvaceous design on the outside is mirrored in surprising ways inside, with rounded fur- nishings and arcing interior walls. Riffs on '60s interior design can be found throughout, but the feel is distinctly futuristic, as you might image a luxury hotel to look during the era of flying cars. Even the uniforms express this dichotomy—Donald Draper meets the Jetsons. Indeed, Mad Men costumer designer Janie Bryant is the creative force behind the uniform designs, which manage to evoke both crisp efficiency and glamour. The drinking and dining scene at The Watergate completes the experience. Kingbird restaurant marries French and American fare under the artful touch of Executive Chef Michael Santoro. Modern, casual comfort foods are served in the front dining room and bar. For those seeking a more formal and elegant experience, Backroom at Kingbird offers three- and four-course menus, expertly paired with eclectic wine selections from a team of enthusiastic sommeliers, Nial Harris-García, Charles "CW" Kelley, and Hugo Arias Sanchez. "Our saying here is that Champagne is a food group," explains Kelley, when asked about the pre-set flutes at each table. "It sets the tone that diners are in for an experience, not just a meal." What's "Next" If you are in need of an Instagram selfie, the illuminated floor-to-ceiling, wall of 2,500 identical whisky bottles shows you the way to The Next Whisky Bar. Beverage Manager Gabrielle Clark has curated a whisky collection that focuses on depth rather than breadth, with a focus on the rare and unusual. The menu is a mix local tipples like Virginia Distillers Highland Malt, international favorites like Amrut from India and Hibiki from Japan, and hard-to-find Scotches and bourbons. For example, on a recent visit, enthusiasts could enjoy the Tomintoul 37 Year Old Single Malt Scotch, of which only 600 bottles were produced. Locals and visitors alike will want to settle in to view the sunset view from the rooftop bar, Top of the Gate. Overlooking historic Georgetown along the Potomac River, the nightly show of pinks and orange are truly spectacular. Guests can enjoy Clark's inventive seasonal cocktails, which she can change with the mood of the day or the weather. "I had switched over to some fall selections that featured whisky and autumn spices, but this week brought unexpected warm weather, so I decided to go with white spirits and tea infusions, which are more refreshing," says Clark of DC's sometimes unpredictable climate. The Watergate's proper tribute to brown spirits: The Next Whisky Bar. Robert Muehlich, F&B Director for The Watergate Hotel.

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