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