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).
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.