Thursday, January 27, 2011

Church & State: Gimmick Alert?

A new craft-cocktail saloon has emerged in the district. There's little doubt, after reviewing initial reports by CityStream, that the owners of this establishment have confected either an amusingly blasphemous gimmick or a murmur of ironic genius. Church & State, as it's called, serves classic cocktails the likes of which are being advocated by many of today's mixologists (with their own personal touches). CityStream profiled the new saloon this week after attending a media preview.

The article was informative and definitely worth a read. I only took issue with the writer's assertion, in an attempt at clarity, that the reader "just remember, this is an American joint, so you won't find scotch or tequila." I can only assume the staff of Church & State did not contribute to this slight mistake.

To clarify, it is true, scotch is not an American spirit and tequila is Mexican. But neither is gin (British) or vodka (Russian) which are both served in a few of the cocktails that were listed. A distinctly "American" tavern of spirits would exclusively focus on rye, bourbon, moonshine whiskies, et cetera. And that would be fine as long as one didn't consider any liquor produced in the rest of North or South America as being American. Technically, I feel these spirits are "American" but I could be simply trying to square the circle. I took no real issue with this confusion as it's quite easy to forget or be mistaken on these details.

With a menu heading like the Bill of Rights, I found myself chuckling slightly.  It is fairly usual for District of Columbia bars to allude to such political ideas as constitutional democracy, the federal system or a capitalist economy (e.g. Founding Farmers, 51st State Tavern, or Recessions). I will not lie: I fear a clumsy attempt at cleverness here. There's nothing quite as tiring as the hackneyed DC satire bar.

But the passion to charmingly poke the flanks of the perpetually offended and yet risk the chagrin of the city's moderate believers has won my interest. I'm gripped with the idea of dashing in briefly for a drink. I hope to visit the newest kid in the neighborhood and provide some insight as to the success of the place in the coming week.

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