Charity supporters who gathered at the Newseum on January 27 for the 10th annual Sips & Suppers gourmet bash got a first taste of the next culinary brand restaurateur José Andrés plans to unleash on local diners.
The Sips reception, part of a weekend-long fundraiser benefiting organizations working to end hunger, was created in 2009 by renowned food personalities Andrés, Joan Nathan and Alice Waters. The past decade of receptions and celebrity chef-led dinners in private homes have raised more than $3 million for local nonprofits Martha’s Table and DC Central Kitchen.
Many of the city’s top chefs and bartenders spent Saturday evening serving specialty dishes and cocktails to donors spread across four levels of the museum. Unlike past years, Andrés was absent this time around; the globe-trotting philanthropist spent the evening palling around with politicos and stirring up controversy on Twitter.
Here are some of the highlights from the food-filled extravaganza:
A new taste from José Andrés: The surprise of the night was the first taste of Butterfly, a fast-casual concept in development from Andrés and his hospitality company, Thinkfoodgroup. It’s envisioned as a quick-service version of Oyamel and will replace Spanish food truck Pepe as the next occupant of Andrés’ Thinkfoodlab. There are no details yet about the opening timeline, but expect a menu of Mexican-inspired tacos and tortas. Sip & Suppers attendees were given a seasonal fruit salad composed of jicama root, cucumber, and queso fresco.
The Bee’s Knees. The event got started with cocktails in the VIP lounge, which featured a miniature version of Bresca’s truffle-and-honey twist on the Bee’s Knees and samples from local distiller Jos. A Magnus & Co. The drinks paired well with fresh Sweet Jesus oysters from St. Mary’s County, Maryland, as well as offerings from fledgling restaurants Rasa and Rare Steak and Seafood.
Serve it up: The MGM National Harbor took over the Newseum’s glass elevators, transforming them into a couple of game rooms and a bar. The cocktail elevator was the preferred way to ride up to the 6th floor, where there was food from casino restaurants including Fish by José Andrés, Ginger and Voltaggio Brothers Steak House.
Thanks, Obama: Author Joan Nathan pulled our her phone during her remarks to delight the crowd with a congratulatory note from former President Barack Barack and first lady Michelle Obama. Radio host Tommy McFly astutely pointed out that the Obama’s words referenced “our city” — further evidence the couple has built roots in D.C., especially when it comes to advocating to end poverty and hunger.
A custom cocktail bourbon: Area newcomer Five to One was a top destination for cocktails throughout the night. Owner Trevor Frye also gave Eater the details on his custom barrel of Maker’s Mark 46 bourbon, which he designed specifically for use in classic and stirred cocktails. The private blend boasts pleasant notes of vanilla and baking spices. It’ll be available at the U Street bar for a reasonable $8 an ounce.
Ready for takeoff: Guests needing a break found refuge in the Jet Blue-sponsored lounge, where Tiger Fork served up its cold dan dan noodles in Chinese takeout boxes while District Winery poured four varieties of its vino at a neighboring booth. The bar team from Union Market fixture Buffalo & Bergen gave the airport cocktail cart a craft makeover with a menu of upscale Old Fashioneds, margaritas, and bloody marys.
Red pepper, red booze: Hank’s Pasta Bar mixologist Jessica Weinstein concocted what was arguably the evening’s most adventurous drink. Her negroni speziato was a bitter, smokey, and spicy blend of Campari, Dolin Rouge vermouth, Chacho Aguardient, El Silencio mezcal, Hellfire bitters, and orange oil. It was not for the faint of liver (or heart).