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Inside Lukas B. Smith’s Growing Cocktail Empire in D.C.

The latest at Addendum, Le DeSales, Cotton & Reed

Lukas B. Smith at Addendum
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Lukas B. Smith and his cocktail concoctions are in high demand these days. The veteran D.C. bartender, formerly at Jack Rose’s Dram & Grain, has his hands in at least three wildly different places across town: a cocktail lounge (Addendum), a soon-to-open French restaurant (Le DeSales), and distillery (Cotton & Reed).

Now the beverage director and consultant is stirring up branded connections across locations, making it easier to spot his work. For instance, the Redbeard at Cotton & Reed — named after his own red-hued beard — will be reinterpreted at Le DeSales in the form of a Goldenbeard (an ode to chef Raphael Francois’ own facial hair color).

Here’s the latest on each of Smith’s spots:


The new bar-in-bar within Eighteenth Street Lounge, open since early February with a beverage program co-directed by Smith, puts house-made ingredients and bitters in its upscale cocktails.

The 20-seat bar just added super simple-sounding cocktails to the lineup this week: Whiskey & Ginger, Vodka & Cranberry, Gin & Tonic, Rum & Cola. But don’t let the names fool you. Lots of thought — and some four or five high-end ingredients — go into each. The Gin & Tonic mixes Beefeater with Suze aperitif and Limon de Jerez, while the Rum & Cola contains Cotton & Reed Spiced Rum and Amaro Averna. Each is served in elaborate crystal glassware.

The cocktails could make appearances throughout Eighteenth Street Lounge, to “reflect our style and give people a more refined option,” he said. Addendum is now open Sundays, starting this weekend, at 9 p.m. (in addition to Thursday to Saturday).

Le DeSales

The sleek French replacement to D.C.’s decade-old Panache arrives next week in D.C. across from The Mayflower Hotel. As beverage consultant, Smith’s drinks menu includes on-tap cocktails — including a signature Rickey.

In his Old Fashioned, Angel’s Envy Bourbon is finished in port barrels, making it “wine forward.” He gives the cocktail an additional “French twist” by foie gras-washing the bitters. “Even if you are not a meat eater you can have it both ways,” he said.

The No. 1 cocktail seller at Cotton & Reed in Northeast is the Redbeard, made with its rum, Campari, house-made ginger beer, and lemon (and named after his own beard color).

At Le DeSales he’s altering the same drink by adding Suze — a golden-colored French apéritif — instead of Campari to match chef Raphael Francois’s golden-colored beard. It’s called the Goldenbeard.

“I know that will be No. 1. Whatever has ginger in it is the one that moves,” he said. “At Cotton & Reed we sell like a million of the [Redbeard].”

Cotton & Reed

Sounds like all those sales are paying off. Cotton & Reed, D.C.’s first rum distillery that opened in November, just paid off its $50,000 boiler. He said the team just wrote the check for it this month.

“We can breathe. Spring is coming so now we can buy some new equipment,” he said.

A building tour of CORE’s impressive design is slated for April 1, with 10 percent of cocktail sales going towards DC Central Kitchen that day.

Le DeSales

1725 Desales Street Northwest, , DC 20036 (202) 450-3998 Visit Website