“You Really Need to Try”….Cocktails at Founding Farmers

The famous farm-to-table restaurant sets up a nice outpost in Tyson’s Corner.

Ambiance: ***1/2

Decor: ****

Service: ****

Cocktails: ***1/2

Overall Rating: 3.75

“Oh, you like cocktails?  You know where you should go – Founding Farmers.”

Everyone I know, ever

Heat.  Major heat.  That’s what Founding Farmers has in the DC area — among the jet set and hipster crowd (which I’m sort of in, I guess), FF is a must visit.  Pushed by this peer pressure, I finally made it out to FF’s Tyson outpost last week.  I happily discovered that FF and its cocktails mostly live up to the hype: the bar’s ten original cocktails are interesting, take chances, and include three standouts.  Also appreciated the pride with which FF offers its own proprietary gin and rye (with the help of Copper Fox distilleries) and uses genuine pisco.  I was very impressed by FF’s embrace of pisco, which is a bit of a niche product that many casual drinkers haven’t been exposed to (you can read about my pisco experiments here and here). The bar itself is really beautiful, a very pleasant and welcoming décor for those of us engaged in serious drinking.

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Alright, so on to the drinks. We start with the “Park Your Vesper in the Barn,” made of gin, hanger 1 vodka, and Cocchi Americano.  This wasn’t that memorable with an underwhelming, barren taste only interrupted by the licorice tinge on the edges.  However, “The Farm Daisy,” a blend of gin, green chartreuse, lemon, and lemongrass was a nice step up, delivering a richer gin-lemon combo than I’m used to.  Interesting, thick, and strong.

The “Negroni Contandino” looks beautiful and tastes pretty good, blending gin, amaro nonino quintessential, Campari, and grapefruit foam.  Not overly bitter (something I don’t like about negronis) refreshing, and well-balanced.  The foam provides a smoothness that makes drinking the Contandino a fun and citrusy experience.  We transition to rye with the “Farmers Smash” which throws in bitters and citrus-ginger syrup.  This was very good – the rye is subdued and the drink is surprisingly airy, but kicks at the end.

The first of my standouts was the “Ward Eight” a simple mix of rye, citrus, and grenadine.  This was cool, crisp, and conveys a nice echo of rye on the back end.  Doesn’t try too hard and provides a great and sweet taste. I was less of a fan of the Farm Sour” with rye, citrus, and orgeat syrup. This was very “rye strong” with a sort of stringent, chemical taste throughout that didn’t quite agree with me.  Looked very pretty, though.

The last rye entry was the “Farmers Sazerac” with remy martin vsop, absinthe demerara, and bitters.  This was very “rye up” and echoes hot and burns bright.  Not my cup of tea but certainly worth trying, a very powerful little drink.  We make the welcome jump to pisco with “Ernesto the Farmer” another standout.  Made of lime, anise syrup, Peruvian bitters, and ginger, this was a really lovely, poppy sipper. The lime and pisco combination is sublime and provides a good, earthy aftertaste.

Next up was the “Captain, My Capitan” with averna and maraschino bitters.  The Captain provides a very interesting flavor, peppery, almost candyish.  A nice and very different burn that I enjoyed, intriguing and gorgeous.  I concluded my tour of Founding Farmers with probably my favorite drink, the “Pisco Crusta” made of lime and maraschino curacao. A really delicious and simple mixture with just the right amount of burn and salt.  Pleasant and easy with a sour hint, this was a home run.  Good times all around!


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