Local Food, Great Drinks: Ripple Brings Sustainability & Unique Drinks to Cleveland Park

Last night, my husband Craig and I travelled alllllll the way to Cleveland Park to try out wine bar Ripple.  (And yes, anywhere on Connecticut north of Dupont deserves an “alllllll the way” from this Arlington resident).  Right off the bat, I’ll say that this place is totally chic and completely worthy of the three traffic circles it took to get there.  And its focus on sustainability and organic, locally-acquired produce made it all that more exciting to check out.  Plus, I heard a rumor that they have some of the best drinks in town and I never pass up the opportunity for a good drink.

Ripple, Located in the heart of Cleveland Park (3417 Connecticut Ave NW)

Upon entering this organic mecca, I immediately noticed its contemporary decor; part casual bar, part trendy restaurant, and with meats hanging from the wall, part butcher shop. The accents of red and sophisticated design make this the perfect to meet a friend, meet you current date, meet your next date, or perhaps even meet a client.

What I LOVED about Ripple was its fantastic drink menu, though I was totally clueless on what was in about 90% of the drinks.  For instance – what the heck is uva de troia? The wino in me is ashamed to say that according to my Google search – it’s a red wine.

Either way, the drinks are awesome and the bartenders are no joke.  Bar manager, Josh Berner, has come up with an ever changing list of seven rather unique cocktails all worthy of your taste buds (and your smart phone’s ability to Google ingredients before you sound stupid), and one of their fabulous bartenders, Mo, is actually a licensed sommelier, which is totally impressive.  And they are even willing to spread the knowledge to the masses – Berner is hosting a series of cocktail classes starting Tuesday (06/28 at 7pm) with Martinis 101.  The $35 class (which is limited to 10 people and can be reserved via info@rippledc.com), includes light snacks and according to Berner “more [martini] knowledge than you can handle.”

Anyway, Craig got the Castle Made of Sand (pictured the right), a spicy mix of espelette-infused milagro silver (again, no idea what that is), chardonnay, cucumber soda, and black eyed peas on the side.  I was a little adventurous and instead of getting a glass of my favorite food group, wine, I went with the Gammayze Cocktail (pictured to the left), an interesting mix of st. germain, chamomile grappa, oj, lemon.  For the record, I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw st. germain and/or chamomile grappa on a drink menu, let alone ordered it.

While the speciality cocktails at Ripple may not be conventional, they’re a great change from the norm and a fun conversation starter (added bonus for first date patrons!).  And in case the decent list of microbrews as well as 50 wines by the glass (all from small production wineries with a focus on sustainable, organic, and biodynamic practices)
don’t do it for you, you can order a “Bartender’s Choice,” which usually includes lighting a drink on fire and that’s always fun to watch.

Alright – let’s talk food!  I’ll admit right away that I thought the ambiance was slightly more casual than the food.  The menu is a bit limited, but I supposed that’s what happens when you focus your efforts on featuring only nine seasonal and local partners.  So, I’ll give them a pass. Craig got the duck and I got the Agnolotti of Broccoli and they were both delicious, but if you were looking for comfort food – this  was not it.

Craig's Crispy Duck Breast

My Agnolotti of broccoli

While our food was great, the next time we’re back, Craig and I will probably forgo the bigger plates and stick to what I think Ripple does best – sides, cheese, and charcuterie.  We got the most unbelievable starter – bacon smoked pecans and they tasted EXACTLY how you think they would. They came out nice and warm and tasting like hickory smoked bacon done just right.  Yum.

So, my only regret with our dining experience is that we went with full meals rather than small bites. The people next to us got this AWESOME plate of cheeses and house-made meats, and with our drinks, it just seemed like it would have been the perfect light combination on a summer night.

If you leave here with nothing else – make sure you ask for the Made-to-Order Chocolate Chip Cookies with Milk. They are absolutely to-die-for (especially with the option for a glass of chocolate milk; yum!) Just be sure that you also ask for a fork.  The cookies (made with milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and chocolate nips) are seriously right out of the oven and if you try to eat them with your bare hands, well, let’s just say that you better not be on a first date.

Happy Local, Organic, and Sustainable (but still fabulous) Dining! xo -KC 

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