Bon Vivant: (n) a person having cultivated, refined, and sociable tastes especially with respect to food and drink.

All posts in Tried and Trues

Hanks on the Hill: More than Just Oyster Shooters!

Posted in: Bang for Your Buck, Bon Vivant, Cocktails, Restaurant Reviews, Tried and Trues

One place this wino never orders vino

“Your seat’s open, be back in a few,” I’m greeted at the door. Indeed, my favorite spot at the long white expanse of marble seems to be the only one free on a recent crowded weeknight.



Currently off menu, my favorite boozy slushie can turn around even the toughest day. A variation of the Jameson based cocktail will be making an appearance at the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day Dinner.

I usually don’t get a menu, but hear the blender firing up my favorite frozen cocktail before I’ve even had a chance to consider my order. These days, I always ask for a menu. They’ve broken me of my comfortable habit, but in the most interesting of ways.

The bartenders at Hanks on the Hill have taken on a daunting task: create a new cocktail menu every week of 2014.

Not many bars have the talent or patience to take on this project. When I asked Bar Manager, Mike Saccone, where the idea originated he answered, “After hours drinking… where all great ideas come about!”

“That’s where the concept for Suburbia came from, too!”

There are equal parts work and whimsy inspiring the two mixologists behind the concept. Their opposite personalities seem to create an effortless working relationship; Jason Strich is the unflappably calm yin to Mike’s cheeky and spirited yang.

Many of the cocktail names have quite risqué names. It’s clear these guys not only take their craft seriously, they have fun with it. Each week’s theme draws on a mixture of current events, pop culture, wit and whimsy.

Cocktails can be as innoucously named as “Pretty in Pink”- a nod to the recent birth of DC mixologist and Hank’s partner, Gina Chersevani’s baby girl during “Gina’s Having a Baby” week- to “I Don’t See Nothing Wrong With a Little Bump and Grind” from “That’s my Slow Jam” week.

An enigmatic “Italian Gentleman” shows up periodically on the menus, always with a new development to the fictional character’s plot, associates and mythology.  Last week’s iteration was not only delicious, but rewarded returning patrons with a new twist.  By the end of the year’s cocktail experiment said gentleman is sure to have built up a Bond level aura of mystique and intrigue. Shaken, not stirred.

    Last week's "Italian Gentleman, a Jewish Con Man, an over-eager FBI agent and the Corruption of Camden, New Jersey"- a refreshing and slightly tart mix of Ketel One Vodka, Galliano, Roasted Lemon Parsley Soda and Aperol.

The “Italian Gentleman, a Jewish Con Man, an over-eager FBI agent and the Corruption of Camden, New Jersey”- A refreshing and slightly tart mix of Ketel One Vodka, Galliano, Roasted Lemon Parsley Soda and Aperol.

Menu themes coming soon: “It was all a dream”, “College Spring Break”, “March Madness”, and more!

A lot of the cocktails have salacious names that are quick to make one blush. This is a direct nod to the cheeky sense of humor the mixologists throw into the otherwise daunting professional challenge. “It is hard to get people to order the cocktails by name sometimes. They’ll say, “The whiskey one…”

“We reply, ‘I don’t know which one that is…’ we’ve started forcing people to order them by name.”


“We don’t take ourselves very seriously here. These are serious cocktails, but we’re having fun with it.” -Mike

For these two cocktail aficionados, I thought the concept of drinking only one cocktail for the rest of their lives would be a hard question to answer.

Mike’s answer was quick, “Sailor Jerry and Pineapple. That’s my dirty little secret.”
Jason wavered slightly, “Well, honestly I like straight tequila…or a Margarita. But Gin and Tonic- that would have to be it.”
Mike chimes in with a grin, “We’re simple folks.”
“What gin?” I ask Jason, knowing there would be an answer. “…depends on the tonic.”

Maybe not so simple, after all!

These picks and more will show up on the “What’s your Favorite Drink Menu” the week of March 27.

Although the concept is exciting, it can leave drinkers who fall in love with a new libation out of luck the next time they stop in. To date, the most popular cocktails have been “I Know what Boys Like”, “Drunk in Love” and the “Alabama Slammer”.

For those missing their favorite new creation, fear not- each quarter will feature the most popular picks, and the end of the year will feature a menu of the top nine cocktails. The most popular will be the new Hank’s Classic Cocktail.

Not just for show: The mixologists incorporate salts, spices, herbs and barks into their weekly cocktails.

Not just for show: The mixologists incorporate salts, spices, herbs and barks into their weekly cocktails.  Juices, extractions and syrups are all made in house with incredible attention to detail.

After seeing what goes into prepping these cocktails, I can honestly say that $12 is a bargain. Although the names and themes might be cheeky, the cocktails are top notch, featuring freshly squeezed juices, house made sodas, simple syrups, and endlessly creative combinations that will break you out of any cocktail rut.


Mike prepping “caviar” for a Champagne and caviar inspired cocktail on the “And the Award Goes to…” Menu

“We take [this project] seriously but we make it work. Nothing’s off limits.”

DC is undergoing something of a cocktail revolution. When I asked whether this was due to more sophisticated drinkers or more sophisticated drinks, the answer was a thoughtful “both”, followed up by a crooked grin and the inevitable quip, “Jason and myself.”

In reality, they are quick to give credit to nationally acclaimed mixologists Todd Thrasher, Gina Chersevani, Derek Brown. “They started it.”

Check out this week’s menu.  They debut each Thursday:

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Have you tried any of their weekly cocktail concoctions?  Which have been your favorites?







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Tried and Trues

Posted in: Tried and Trues, Wine Pairing, Wineries and Vineyards

My Desert Island Wine

As much as I encourage people to try new wines, we all have our favorites- the ones that we come back to again and again.  Occasionally, I’ll be updating the blog with reviews of some my own tried and trues, many of which you may notice popping up on the Bon Vivant DC facebook “Currently Sipping” album from time to time!

A recent interview with a vintner introduced me to the concept of a “desert island wines”- the one wine that you couldn’t live without if you lived out the rest of your days in isolation.  And so, I think it only appropriate to start this series with one of my top contenders: AN2.


This is the wine we pull out when invited to a dinner party or when we have friends over.  Or, often,  just because! I’ve never served it to anyone that didn’t love it- in fact, usually there’s a fight over the last dregs of the bottle!

From the Spanish island of Mallorca, this medium bodied red is comprised of lesser known varietals: old vine Callet, Mantonegre, Fogoneu and Syrah fermented in a combination of stainless steel and concrete.  It’s then aged for 13 months in a combination of French barriques and American oak.

This wine balances earthy and fruity notes in perfect harmony, resulting in an elegant wine that’s both easy drinking and nuanced. There are spicy notes, in addition to a light smokiness to balance out the bright fruit notes- most notably raspberry and cherry. Its medium body and high acidity make it intensely food friendly, and it goes well with a variety a of dishes.

We’ve paired it with everything from charcuterie, to pork, red meat, and have enjoyed more than our fair share sans food.

It’s generally priced around $25 at area retailers, and worth every penny!

What are some of your “tried and trues” that you come back to again and again?

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There’s a saying in my family…

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Helpful Hints, Tried and Trues

“You don’t have to like it, but you do have to try it.”



When we were kids, this rule was meant to encourage picky eaters to try new foods. But this lesson applies to wine drinkers, too.

People frequently ask me how to discover new wines, and my answer is simple: “taste them!”

One great- and FREE- way to find a new favorite is at your neighborhood wine store. Most in the DC area offer free tastings on Fridays and Saturdays. Just ask when the next one is the next time you stop by for that tried and true!

Not only are these tastings fun, they’re a quick, no-pressure way to taste several different wines for free. Wine experts offer samples along with a quick tutorial on what you’re tasting. You may not like everything you try, but you just may walk away with a new favorite!

What new to you wines have you recently tried and loved?

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