Ring in the Spring with a Capital Cherry Blossom Cocktail

03/18/2014 at 06:00 AM ET

Washington DC Cherry Blossom Festival

As Washington, D.C., residents shovel away the record-breaking seven inches of snow that fell this past weekend, they can comfort themselves with the following news: The capital’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival starts this Thursday, March 20 (and Spring starts on Friday!).

We’ve got a food-centric rundown of what to do if you’re heading for D.C. for some tree peeping, as well as a glamorous cherry-blossom cocktail recipe that’s perfect for toasting spring’s beginning from any location.

Most people head to the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial, which is iconic, popular andyou guessed itjam-packed with people. (If you go, take public transit since it will be impossible to park.) Or for a more chill pace, try Georgetown’s Dumbarton Oaks Research Library: This historic mansion-turned-museum has a 10-acre formal garden that’s filled with cherry trees.

Beyond simply seeing and Instagramming those famous trees, visitors can attend dozens of different events around the D.C. area, many with food or drink spin. There’s a Japanese tea workshop at the Colvin Run Mill, where you can taste a blend made from cherry blossoms; a splurgy sake tasting at the Carnegie Library; and Sakura Matsuri, a Japanese-style street festival that will feature live theater and marital arts performances, two beer gardens, and snacks like sushi, rice bowls, and yakitori.

At his Jaleo tapas restaurants in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, chef José Andrés is planning to serve some tasty-sounding dishes in honor of the cherry blossoms. He’s pairing pork belly confit with cherry sauce and wine-soaked goat cheese with cherry marmalade, as well as offering a chilled red berry soup on the dessert menu.

Daikaya, a well-loved spot known for their Sapporo-style ramen, will be pouring three different cocktails inspired by the trees. We snagged the recipe for The Gift, a pale pink beauty that has a preserved edible cherry blossom (sourced right from Japan!) floating inside. The drink is made with vermouth, white ale and shochu, which is a distilled spirit that’s known for having a low alcohol content and complex flavor that varies depending on what it’s made with (often barley or rice). Owner Daisuke Utagawa helped us tweak the recipe so it’s simple to make at home. As a garnish, he suggests using edible flowers for a similar look.

Now that you’ve got your Spring drink sorted out, all you have to do is wait for the temps to rise and the trees to bloom. Sun dance, anyone?

Washington DC Cherry Blossom Festival
Brian Oh

The Gift (Cherry-Blossom Cocktail)
Serves 1
1½ oz. sake or barley shochu
1½ oz. sweet vermouth
.125 oz. distilled white ale (like Kiuchi no Shizuku)
3 dashes (or 9 drops) of orange bitters
Edible flower, optional garnish

Combine the first four ingredients and pour into a coupe glass; garnish with an edible flower.

—Lexi Dwyer

FILED UNDER: Cocktails , Food , Recipes , Restaurants

Share this story:

Your reaction:

Add A Comment

PEOPLE.com reserves the right to remove comments at their discretion.

Showing 5 comments

The Boozy Barista on

That cherry blossom cocktail is an absolute masterpiece! I took my girlfriend to D.C. last spring break. It was her first time at the capitol and we couldn’t have picked a better season to visit! The cherry blossoms were gorgeous!

Heide M on

Sounds yummy. Wish I had a sip.

go to my blog on

I was pretty sad when I got to the Namco Bandai booth however and found out they only brought their fighting games to be played there, which I didn’t bother to try. The PC offers come with a variety of deals that includes recent releases ranging from ‘Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel’ to ‘Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor’ to ‘The Evil Within. Your objective is to eliminate these monsters and escape the ship.
go to my blog http://mp3tingli.com/comment/html/index.php?page=1&id=64827

This Site on

The super success of first Knights of the Old Republic game initiated a sequel’The Sith Lords, which has all the key aspects of the first RPG plus more re-playable quests and a good storyline. PC games take you away from your real life miseries and give you complete peace of mind. 3) Desert to Sea Bundle (Bioshock, Bioshock 2, Spec – Ops The Line).
This Site http://velka.su/index.php/component/k2/itemlist/user/305717

More about the author on

I LOVE THIS! I love your blog, and I love that you want to teach people about photography. Keep teaching, I am learning!

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters