December 12th, 2010
08:00 PM ET
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D.C. bartender Derek Brown has served the President and the First Lady and now he’s serving us, offering step-by-step instructions on how to make the perfect holiday drink.

Brown’s reservations-only cocktail laboratory, The Columbia Room, is actually a bar within a bar. An intimate setting with just 16 seats, the cocktail club is hidden inside another popular D.C. bar, The Passenger, co-owned by his brother Tom. Together they serve up classic cocktails on a nightly basis.

“When people come into The Columbia Room, we really take care of them,” says Brown. "To us, making a great cocktail isn't enough. It has to be a great environment. It has to be great service. It really has to be about putting people in the right mood.”

Brown takes time with each of his guests, making the perfect drink according to their palate’s preferences. He shared his secrets with Eatocracy by teaching us a recipe for a traditional mulled holiday wine, Yule Glögg, and serving up a festive cocktail, The Jack Rose.

If you don’t have a holiday drink tradition, you will after this.

Yule Glögg

1 bottle of full-bodied red wine
1 cup Aquavit
1 teaspoon crushed cardamom seeds
2 teaspoons cloves
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
4 cinnamon sticks
1 cup almonds - blanched
1 cup seedless raisins
1/2 cup brown sugar

Bring wine to boil. Tie spices and zest in to a cheese cloth. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add in almonds, sugar and raisins; cook for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add in Aquavit. Stir, and remove spices. Serve hot.

Grenadine (used in The Jack Rose)

1 cup pomegranate juice
2 cups white sugar
1/8 oz. dried hibiscus flower (flor de Jamaica)
1/2 cup pomegranate juice

Heat 1 cup pomegranate juice and sugar till the latter is dissolved. Take off heat and add hibiscus. Allow to cool in refrigerator. When cool, strain out hibiscus and then add 1/2 cup of pomegranate juice.

Recipes courtesy Derek Brown of The Columbia Room.

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Filed under: Bite • Cocktail Recipes • Holidays • Sip • Spirits

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Sam Meyer

    That looks like an interesting way to make grenadine. I do mine in a much simpler way - equal volumes of pomegranate juice and sugar in a jar, then shake like hell till it dissolves. A small splash of vodka (I use a quarter- to half-ounce for a cup or so of grenadine) will help preserve it longer in the fridge.

    December 14, 2010 at 8:38 pm |
  2. Tiffany

    Aquavit @ the liquor store around the corner, & I'll bet they have cardamom seeds @ Henry's or Jimbo's. I don't know about dried hibiscus locally, but has some you can order.

    December 14, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
  3. Graceful

    Holy way too complicated. Where I live, if you can't find it at Wal-Mart then you aren't having it. And something tells me they don't carry Aquavit or dried hibiscus

    December 13, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
    • Mark

      too bad for you...had wal-mart not put your local small mom and pop liquor store out of business, the things in this recipe would be easy to find...

      December 14, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
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