Grape and Grain tours bestow imbibers with a whirlwind six hours to sip and savor a kaleidoscope of diverse beverages. A chauffeur from Prime Transportation begins the day by whisking patrons to a brewery, distillery, and winery, each of which grants samples of their unique brews and vintages while instilling educational tidbits about their creation. At the Mediterranean-style Potomac Point Winery, patrons explore the wine cave and tour the cellar, dining on a bistro lunch and stopping at the olive oil bar to tend jaws creaky from chewing. At Blue and Gray Brewing Company, samples of seasonal beers emerge straight from the tanks to wash down a complimentary dessert, and the tour of family-owned A. Smith Bowman Distillery—a Fredericksburg mainstay since 1934—imparts tricks of the brewing trade that toe the line between tradition and innovation. Discounts on return visits and gift-shop merchandise urge tours to return, and patrons depart with souvenir glasses from each venue that will always remind them not to drink out of the brewer's tank.
Like a United Nations of varietals, some of the world’s tastiest wines from countries such as Argentina, Chile, Italy, and France are well-represented within Jackie’s Wine Bar. Connoisseurs savor the unique notes of each pour while investigating the black-framed pictures on Jackie’s coffee-colored walls and the shelves of wine bottles that vie for attention behind the bar by wearing chic designer labels. On Thursday evenings, free salsa lessons invite patrons to set down their glasses and grab their dance partner’s hand; Saturday nights feature live bands that serve dulcet melodies as aromatic bouquets serenade olfactory receptors. Fresh air courses through Jackie’s outdoor patio, where visitors can alternate between sips of wine or beer and bites of sandwiches, desserts, and appetizers.
Though the design in Fire & Sage’s dining room exudes modern elegance, the eatery’s kitchen relies on a decidedly more Old-World device: a wood-fired brick oven. Serving as the kitchen’s cornerstone, the oven bakes signature flatbread pizzas whose flavors range from the classic pairing of mozzarella and basil to an eclectic mélange of sopressa, pepperoni, chorizo, and goat cheese. These upscale twists on finger food represent Executive Chef Stephen Malfatti’s entire menu of refined American classics such as crab-cake sliders on potato rolls, sage-marinated organic chicken over sweet-potato risotto, and sea scallops topped with wild-mushroom ragout. As a starter, the gooey artichoke dip was described as “so generous with lump crab, we imagine it comes from the recipe files of Daddy Warbucks,” by the Washington Post. Regional microbrews join domestic and international beers on the drink menu, which also boasts eight signature cocktails ranging from a tiramisu martini to a cucumber-based concoction with Skinnygirl vodka. Inside the Washington Marriott at Metro Center, diners sit at high-top tables in the bar area or in plush, lime-green booths with giraffe-print accents in the dining room. The colorful booths and chairs play elegantly against the golden-hued wood of the walls and floors, all of which are illuminated by oversize hanging lamps.
Evocative aromas ascend from swirling chalices at Veritas Wine Bar, a brick-walled lounge where sommeliers pair more than 70 wines by the glass with a menu of cheese and charcuterie plates. Grape-infused elixirs gush from a temperature-controlled tap system, ensuring uniform sips unmarred by sudden climate shifts or clumsy fire breathers. Reds and whites from Italy, South Africa, and New Zealand slosh into individual glasses or join forces to create flights. Globetrotting artisanal cheeses fall under four categories—blue, cow, goat, and sheep—and deliciously mingle with charcuterie selections. Sippers can scrawl an appetizing epilogue across the evening’s feast by noshing on chocolate morsels laced with slow-cooked caramel or pistachio butter, which silence petulant sweet teeth without preemptively donning a bedtime retainer.
Skilled mixologists serve up complex drinks at Wisdom, a dark yet charming cocktail parlor where heavy draperies and ornate lights hang along exposed brick walls. Their drink menu runs the gamut from wine and imported beer to a vast selection of authentic absinthe. Bartenders also mix up non-alcoholic "mocktails," with flavor profiles that are as interesting as their alcoholic counterparts. Events such as trivia night pit martinis against memories, and yappy hours let dogs lounge on the patio and play poker while owners sip libations. Wisdom also dishes up tasty tidbits such as chocolate beer waffles doused in maple syrup or bacon waffles covered in bourbon and caramel apples.
Organic. Fair trade. Sustainable. Microroasted. Plenty of adjectives describe the coffee at Pound The Hill, but the staff is most concerned about one in particular: delicious. They partner their carefully curated brews with breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus. Breakfast sandwiches—such as the Italian Elvis, smothered with Nutella, bananas, and honey—segue into lunchtime ones piled with veggies, feta cheese, pesto chicken salad, and pulled-pork barbecue. At dinnertime, chefs switch sandwich bread for small plates and entrees, such as organic chicken breast stuffed with blue crab. The restaurant also hosts daily happy hours, which happens to be what clowns call each credit they need to graduate from clown college. During this time, guests sip wine and beer while noshing on discounted appetizers.