Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Build a Better Bar IQ: Bourbon vs Rye

Despite being usually linked together, there is quite a difference between bourbon and rye whiskey. Both are produced from a mash of grains (rye, corn, barley, wheat, etc), but for someone to make bourbon, however, the mash they use must be made up of at least 51 percent corn (most distillers use closer to 70 percent). Then the distillate must be aged for at least two years in charred American white oak barrels with no artificial coloring added.  Rye whiskey has the same qualifications with the exception of the mash must contain at least 51% rye. Most ryes are around 95-100%.

How does this affect taste? Think of it like this. Take two slices of bread, one whole wheat, the other rye and take a bite of both. The whole wheat is going to have a sweetness about it, the rye will have spice. That translates to bourbon and rye, too. Take a sip of Maker’s Mark for instance. Maker’s has wheat in the mash and is considered one of the sweeter bourbons on the market. If you take a sip of Rittenhouse Rye you’ll immediately notice the spice coming through. Yes, there’ll be a slight bit of sweetness from the barrel aging not nearly as much as the bourbon will have.

There you have it. Now, go out and buy a bottle of each and try it for yourself at home! I promise you won’t ever have a better homework assignment!


Jeff Faile
Bar Manager & Mixologist

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Drink this Now.

I've recently discovered the joys of Japanese whiskies. Currently, you'll find 5 behind the bar at Fiola. The one I am currently enjoying is the Nikka 15 year single malt, "Yoichi". Yoichi is the name of the distillery on Japan's northern most island, Hokkaido. Hokkaido has the most coastline of any of the Japanese islands, and it is about the same size as Scotland.

Japanese Whiskies at Fiola Bar

I've made it clear in the past I love the peatier, Islay style whiskies. The Nikka whiskies certainly embody that more than any other Japanese whiskey. Don't get me wrong. You're not going to mistake this for a Lagavullin or Laphroiag. There is a subtleness there. The 15 year has a slight creaminess to it which softens the peat, but the chewiness is still there on the palate.

For those of you looking to try something a bit different, I can't recommend the Japanese whiskies enough. The blended whiskies are almost done with a winemaker's sensibilities and are delicate yet flavorful all at the same time. The single malts are elevated examples of the land where they're from. Don't pass up the opportunity to try one!


Jeff Faile
Bar Manager & Mixologist

Word on the Street ... Fiola in the News

Washington Life, "Wine & Spirits: Wine Event Round Up", February 12, 2013

Zagat, "Ultimate Valentine's Day Dining Guide, February 4, 2013
Express,  "Holey Moly", February 7, 2013
Zagat, "Take a Gastronomic Tour of Italy at these DC Restaurants", January 29, 2013
Zagat, "5 Best Italian Restaurants in DC", January 29, 2013
Zagat, "Hottest Italian Restaurants", January 28, 2013
Washingtonian, 100 Very Best Restaurants 2013 / Fiola #4!
Washington City Paper, "Pour More Years", January 17, 2013
Conde Nast Traveler, "Where the VIPs Eat: DC Restaurants with Secret Service Entrances", January 16, 2013
Brightest Young Things, "Make it or Break it: Food Worth Keeping or Destroying Your 2013 Resolutions For", January 16, 2013
City Eats, "Hail to the Chef: Where to Dine and Drink on Inauguration Weekend", January 14, 2013
Huffington Post, "Washington, D.C. Restaurants and Bars Heat Up This Winter", January 8, 2013
Zagat, "8 Inauguration and Food Specials in DC", January 8, 2013
Washingtonian, "Eater in Chief: Where Barack Obama Should Eat Out During His Second Term", January 2, 2013
Washington City Paper, "Top 10 DC Restaurant Openings in 2013", January 2, 2013
DC Modern Luxury, "Harbouring Hope", December 2012

What Jeff's Drinking Now

It’s still cold outside, and I’m still drinking bourbon. My bourbon of choice this month has been Smooth Ambler’s Very Old Scout. 

This is a bit of a different bourbon. Smooth Ambler is an upstart distiller in West Virginia and hasn’t had time to start bottling their own bourbon yet. They buy other distiller’s bourbon and in this case blend and bottle it as their own.

This particular version is a blend of a 14, 15, 17 & 19 year bourbon. There is a noticeably high rye content to it, but there are also notes of vanilla, oak and caramel you would expect from a bourbon aged for 19 years. The best part about this bourbon is it is reasonably priced for such an aged spirit. We have it at Fiola, so come by and try it.
Jeff Faile
Fiola Bar Manager and Mixologist

Recipe Corner: The Boulevardier

People call this a winter time Negroni. While this is basically the same recipe as the more known Negroni which includes gin instead of bourbon, the Boulevardier’s recipe was in print 20 years prior to the Negroni. I recommend a bourbon with a bit of a higher rye content such as Buffalo Trace, and an Italian sweet vermouth to hold up to the weight of the bourbon.

The Boulevardier

1.5 oz Bourbon
1 oz Campari
1 oz Italian Sweet Vermouth

Add ingredients to mixing glass. Add ice, stir, strain over fresh ice in your favorite cocktail glass. Add an orange slice for garnish.

Jeff Faile
Bar Manager & Mixologist

Ask the Bar Man, Jeff Faile

Part of my job is to describe certain liquors and answer questions about how people should make drinks at home. If we're busy at the bar, it's hard for me to go as in depth as I'd like to. A new feature in the bar newsletter allows you to ask any and all questions you'd like. Fire away! Send your questions to

Q. What’s your favorite cocktail? Ben from Shaw

A. People often ask me that when I’m behind the bar, and I usually respond with two words, “bourbon, neat.” While that’s not far off from the truth, I do have a few go to cocktails when I go out. My top 3 cocktails, in no particular order, are the Vieux Carre (rye, cognac, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, peychaud and angostura bitters), the Bijou (gin, sweet vermouth, and green chartreuse), and a good Manhattan (rye or bourbon and sweet vermouth).

If you take a closer look, all of those cocktails are on the darker side and all are rather herbaceous. Of course, I’m writing this during the winter time which could be influencing my preferences a tad. During the summer time, I’m not opposed to a good Gin Rickey (air conditioning in a glass) or gin gimlet. Of course, a classic gin and tonic is always in play, too.

Then again, a bourbon, neat sounds fantastic right now.


- Jeff

Jeff Faile
Bar Manager & Mixologist

Thursday, February 7, 2013

When it Comes to Wine ... Pink Bubbles for Valentine's Day

Wine Director John Toigo
There is nothing like celebrating with bubbles, and on Valentine's Day, those bubbles must be pink. Though Champagne is the classic choice, there are some sparkling wines from Italy that are worthy of your consideration.

One of the best benefits of drinking Italian sparkling wines instead of Champagne is value. One of the best values on our list is:

Mazzolino, Brut, Rose, Oltrepo Pavese, Lombardy NV
Made in the Champagne method, or Metodo Classico, this sparkler exhibits fresh strawberries, a touch of delicate cherry, and awash with the fragrance of rose petals.

If you want to truly impress, try this:

Bellavista, “Grand Cuvee”, Brut, Rose, Franciacorta, Lombardy 2006
With flavors of white strawberries, almost dried floral tones, and aroma of freshly baked bread. Also made in the Metodo Classico, this wine showcases the complexity of age with the vibrant components of youth. This Italian sparkling wine truly competes with the great vintage Champagnes of the world, and at half the price.

I've got a bottle waiting for you,

John Toigo
Wine Director

Sweet Simplicity: Ricciarelli

Ricciarelli at Fiola 
As part of the Tuscany tasting menu, Pastry Chef Tom Wellings is serving up ricciarelli, the classic almond cookie from Siena whose origins date back to the 14th century. Ricciarelli are said to be shaped like the almond eyes of madonnas by Renaissance painters.  Chef Tom's ricciarelli are made with almond meal, ground bitter almonds, sugar, egg whites, and almond extract. The ricciarelli are served with a creamy vanilla milkshake. Available as part of the Tuscany tasting menu, Monday through Thursday in Fiola Bar and Lounge only.

Pastry Chef Tom Wellings

Fiola Up 4 to No. 4 in Washingtonian's 100 Very Best Restaurants

We thank our entire Fiola team for this amazing achievement, and we thank our loyal guests for your ongoing support since we opened in April 2011. It is our pleasure, and our mission, to continually exceed your expectations! 

Find the February issue on your newsstand, or online.