Your Guide to All Things Food & Drink for the 2015 Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.:
Crowds. Metro delays. Cold or hot weather spells which ruin your carefully planned “peak” visit. Sounds like you need some good food and drink. Luckily, D.C. celebrates its annual Cherry Blossom Festival with a variety of special events, parties and deals, along with plenty of creative dishes and libations. Take a look to see what’s available.
The 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival takes place from March 20th – April 12th. Check out their official site for a full list of official events of all kinds.
America Eats Tavern’s Seasonal Takes
Dig deep into the country’s culinary roots at America Eats Tavern with some seasonal spring fare in time for the Cherry Blossom Festival. Try the Planked Shad, served with celery root puree, fermented radish, pea shoot, Virginia ham air, and cured shad roe; as well as the Clover Club cocktail, made with gin, raspberries, lemon, simple syrup and egg white.
Art and Soul’s Picnic to Go
Order a picnic lunch for two to-go from Art Smith’s Art and Soul. For $40, you’ll get their famous fried chicken, coleslaw, potato salad, and cherry soda. As for finding an open space to peacefully enjoy that picnic somewhere along the Tidal Basin? You’re on your own for that.
Plus, in partnership with with The Liaison Capitol Hill, you can book a stay using code CHER15 and receive cherry-inspired cocktails from Art and Soul, along with plenty of other goodies and a chance to win another free stay. The package starts at $189 and also includes two $10 Metro passes. They’re also hosting a contest using hashtag #LiaisonBlossoms encouraging you to submit your best cherry blossom photos for a chance to win a two-night stay.
Barmini’s Springtime Cocktails
Beverage Director Juan Coronado is offering a huge range new springtime cocktails, perfect for a night cap or two after any hard day spent touring the city.
Try the Essential Pollen, with honey vodka, lemon, chamomile, egg white; the Aroma Therapy, with gin, lemon, vermouth blanc, lavender, soda; the Juana Giallo, with yellow & green chartreuse, galiano, saffron, orange, orange blossom, cream, egg; the Starkling, made with vodka, St. Germain, lemon, simple, star fruit, sparkling wine; the Dark Side of the Moon, with Old Tom gin, crème de violette, lemon, simple, egg white, citrus and hay ash; the Nasturtium Garden, with nasturtium gin, aloe liqueur, lemon; and last but not least, the Violette Fizz, with crème de violette, cream, gin, lemon.
China Chilcano’s Cherry Pisco Sour
Still haven’t been to China Chilcano? Here’s another excuse.
Visit Jose Andres’ newest spot in town and try a special Pisco Macerado, a cherry-twist on the traditional Pisco Sour. It’s made with Macchu Pisco, lime, egg white, Amargo Chuncho bitters, and Guindas Macerados, dried sour cherries soaked in Pisco to make a dark, fruity infusion.
Drink the District’s Cherry Blossom Beer & Wine Festival
Drink the District hosts the Cherry Blossom Beer & Wine Festival on April 11th at The Yards. There will be tastings of 50 wines and 30 beers to explore, along with some cider thrown in for good measure.
Tickets cost $35 and can be bought online here. Session 1 lasts from 1:30 to 4:30pm, and Session 2 lasts from 6 to 9 pm. There will be dueling pianos and other live entertainment, games, and 10 different food trucks on-site to keep you happy.
Jaleo’s Spanish Garden cocktail & Cherry-inspired Dishes
Visit any DC-area Jaleo to try their new Spanish Garden cocktail, made with gin, chrysanthemum syrup, orange jam, lemon juice and green chartreuse.
There’s also a variety of cherry-inspired dishes available right now, including The Drunken Goat Murcia cheese with cherry marmalade and toasted bread; seared salmon with cauliflower puree and cherries; pork belly confit with cherry sauce; grilled lamb t-bones with cherry sauce; and a wild red berry soup with Idiazabal cheese ice cream.
Mari Vanna’s $5 Specials
Russian restaurant Mari Vanna is showcasing three $5 specials for the duration of the Cherry Blossom Festival.
First, check out the signature Cherry Blossom cocktail. Or kick things up with a house-infused Cherry Blossom shot. If you’re more into dessert than drinking, grab a delicious-looking slice of cherry pie.
Official Cherry Blossom Grand Ball
The 2015 Official Cherry Blossom Grand Ball & Sushi Reception will be held on April 10th from 6pm to 12am at the JW Marriott Hotel. It’s a gala event which begins with a delicious and artful sushi reception created by master sushi chefs from Japan, along with Sapporo Beer and Mu Sake.
Then, have dinner with the Princesses vying to be named the 2015 U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen, and other special guest. The winning Cherry Blossom Queen will be crowned with a Mikimoto Crown. Enjoy music of Big Band Caliente and a night of dancing.
Tickets for $150 per person for a cash bar, and $200 for an open bar. The beer and sake during the reception is complimentary for all.
Pink Tie Party Kicks Things Off
The annual Pink Tie Party takes place this Thursday night at the Ronald Reagan Building. Consider it the official kickoff for the Cherry Blossom Festival. All kinds of food, drink and entertainment, and a stylish, one of a kind event.
Event starts at 7pm. Tickets cost $225 for general admission and are still available. There will also be an auction. Proceeds benefit the National Cherry Blossom Festival, and the organization’s educational initiatives and events.
RareSweets Celebrates President Taft
Chef/owner Meredith Tomason will feature a special Deviled Almond Ice Cream Sundae in honor of President William Howard Taft and First Lady Helen Taft, who accepted the original gift of the cherry blossom trees from the Japanese ambassador and his wife.
Deviled almonds were President Taft’s favorite snack, and ice cream was the Tafts’ favorite dessert—so much so that they installed a special ice cream freezer into the White House kitchen, and kept a Holstein dairy cow which grazed on the White House lawn.
The President Taft Deviled Almond Sundae will be available for the entire Cherry Blossom Festival for $7.50, and includes deviled almond ice cream, cherry compote, and hot fudge sauce. The deviled almond ice cream will also be available by the scoop. The ice cream base is steeped with toasted almonds, then churned and swirled with candied spice almonds flavored with maple syrup and cayenne pepper.
A number of vendors at Union Market will be getting in on the Cherry Blossom Festival fun. At Salt & Sundry, mention “Cherry Blossom” at checkout for a 10% discount on Japanese dinnerware. At Cordial Fine Wine & Spirits, visit every Saturday (12-3) & Sunday (1-4) afternoon during the Festival for free rosé tastings.
Peregrine Espresso will have Sakura Black, a Japanese black tea blended with sweet sakura cherry blossom leaves and flowers, available for purchase. At Bazaar Spices, try the gourmet pink-popcorn kernels for a unique and festive snack to bring home.
Vinoteca’s Spring Wine Class Series
Vinoteca launches its Spring Wine Class Series starting March 24th. Led by Vinoteca sommelier Kate Chrisman, the series explores spring’s best rosés, as well as some full-bodied whites and soft reds, perfect for the seasonal cold-to-warm weather transition.
Classes take place on Tuesday evenings from 7 to 8:30pm in the restaurant’s upstairs lounge. Each will explore and pour 5 to 6 different wines, and also include food pairings from Executive Chef Lonnie Zoeller as well as a $5 gift card to come back and enjoy more wine at Vinoteca.
On March 24th, the theme will be the Cherry Blossom Festival of Rosé; on April 7th, it’s Full-Body Whites, and on April 21st, it’s The Softer Side of Red. Classes cost $45 per person and space is limited to 18 seats per class. Register here.