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

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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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.

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