When it comes to old-world, atmospheric bars and restaurants, I can’t resist the charm of those establishments in Washington DC that cater to the capital’s power elite. From the Old Ebbitt Grill to The Prime Rib, I love the wood panelling, secretive banquettes and perfectly mixed martinis. Recently, I was lucky to discover a new player on the scene – the deceptively formal-sounding General’s Booth – and have been recommending this delightful experience ever since.
Tucked away in a quiet corner of the storied St Regis, this Prohibition-inspired bar is a fiesta of Florentine palazzo-inspired ceilings, impressive c1926 French windows and herringbone wooden floors.
The General’s Booth is essentially a chef’s table complete with a serious mixologist, and offers a unique gastronomic extravaganza for a party of six on any given night ($99 each), though reservations are required. Director of beverage and mixology Orcun Turkay and Decanter restaurant’s executive chef Sebastian Rondier have created a series of food and drink pairings that change monthly to highlight certain spirits, from bourbon-themed cocktails and fine rums to tequila, mescal and pisco concoctions.
The menu is set on a monthly basis – and all the better, as Turkay’s vast knowledge and bounding enthusiasm made us feel we were in very safe hands. Each of our four cocktail “courses” came with a piquant food pairing. An opening gambit Frenchie made of Martinique-aged rum, lemon, syrup and brut champagne was paired with a delicious bigeye-tuna tartare and crispy crostini. This was followed by a Martinica of 15-year-old rum agricole, green chartreuse and aromatic bitters served with an excellent Wagyu carpaccio, while the last course was a classic Seelbach cocktail, here made with aged rum, Cointreau and Peychaud’s bitters and accompanied by a delicate rum-infused cheesecake.
The General’s Booth pays homage to one of the hotel’s most intriguing guests - General John J Pershing – a world war one legend who savoured many a cocktail here during Prohibition. In honour of his fearless ways, Turkay and Rondier have devised menus that are nothing short of adventurous and are, most importantly, extremely fun.