The West End Ritz-Carlton’s lobby-level bar just rolled out a 90-page drink menu complete with sound-aged spirits and a whopping 34 cocktails.
Quadrant’s new menu reads like a travel journal, telling stories of regional spirits and cocktail creations that helped shape modern mixology practices. The book doubles as a cocktail crash course, detailing the birthplaces and inventors behind each drink. The whiskey and scotch section takes readers on a visual trip through the Scottish Highlands, Taiwan, and India, for instance.
It’s the first big menu change in nearly a year for the tony drinking lair, which is in its fourth year at 1150 22nd Street NW.
The novel-like booklet has a section devoted to the “sound-aged” spirits program that Quadrant unveiled last spring. Using sound waves to simulate the effects of traditional barrel-aging on whiskey, the bar claims its time machine technique produces temporarily well-rounded spirits that mimic the taste of their seasoned counterparts for a fraction of the price. The bar is now stocked with six such spirits, including a recent tequila addition, under drink maker-turned-mad scientist Chris Mendenhall’s watch.
“We aren’t actually aging them — we are taking characteristics of what happens with aging and implementing them in spirits,” Mendenhall told Eater last year.
The lead mixologist’s sound-aged Negroni features gin, sweet vermouth sound-aged in American oak soaked in Cabernet.
Quadrant’s newly expanded selection of cocktails (eight more than before) includes Fall in France (Cognac, oranges, cranberries, cinnamon, vanilla bean, maple syrup) and Liquid Ice Cream (bourbon, cherries, vanilla bean, coconut syrup, chocolate bitters, cream).
Mendenhall has been working on the new menu since August. It replaces a tourism-themed version that included drinks categorized by Metro stops and listed each president’s favored drink — concluding with President Donald Trump’s preference for diet soda. Mendenhall is still hanging on to a few of old books, even giving some away to guests.
“This is a pretty big contrast with its size, shapes and colors — people seem to be enjoying it,” he says of the latest iteration, which printed earlier this month.
He compiled the DIY menu at home using an Adobe program, putting 19 original and 15 classic cocktails at the front of the book. Black and white text is broken up by hand-drawn images of geographical locations and ingredients. His favorite is the gin section, which includes colorful backstories on botanicals.
Mendenhall recently tweaked Quadrant’s fireproof safe — dubbed “The Vault” — by spelling out the inventory on a chalkboard inside. Stocked with super rare bottles and only unlocked upon request, the vault counts Teeling Whiskey Company’s 34-year release as its priciest bottle right now. Having a taste of some of the oldest Irish single malt in the world will set back deep-pocketed drinkers $1,200 for two ounces.
Some elements at Quadrant remain unchanged, like its smoked Old Fashioned. Some 5,000 were sold last year, Mendenhall reports.
“It’s the perfect winter drink right now — warming and visually appealing,” he says.
For food, the bar’s lineup of snacks includes tacos filled with steak, shrimp, or scallops on house-made corn tortillas, now rotating daily. A suggested pairing off the new cocktail menu is the “Agave Kiwi” (tequila, triple sec, kiwi syrup, fresh pineapple juice, orange bitters).