Shaken and Stirred

2006 has been proclaimed the year of the cocktail by Food & Wine, and there's no denying that with all the experimentation going on behind bars, a watery gin and tonic just doesn't have the same appeal anymore. D.C. is lucky to have a handful of talents—call them mixologists or bar chefs if you must—shaking up ever more enticing concoctions.

Along with Restaurant Eve's Todd Thrasher, Firefly's Derek Brown is one of the best. His constantly changing cocktail menu is currently stocked with wintry drinks, like the Warm Cosmo, which blends Svedka Vodka, Triple Sec, cranberry-apple tea, lime juice and clove-orange syrup served warm with a twist.

I tried out the Montreal, a "Canadianized" version of a Manhattan made with Woodford Reserve, maple syrup blended with Canadian whiskey, and Angostura bitters with a maple syrup soaked cherry. The sweet smell of the syrup hits you first, followed by a smack from the whiskey.

There's also the Pomorita, a margarita made with housemade pomegranate sour mix; the Luxe Interior, made with Millers gin, port and bay leaf syrup and topped with Luxe sparkling wine and a cluster of red grapes; and the Pumpkin Alexander, which mixes Martell cognac, Vya sweet vermouth, pumpkin puree, cream, simple syrup and nutmeg.

Here's to a year full of great cocktails.