As a recent college graduate, Boris Viktorovich is making his mark on the D.C. bar scene. Working at hot spots such as Bandolero in Georgetown and Range in Friendship Heights, Viktorovich has developed his own approach to craft cocktails. Now seen behind the counter at Mike Isabella’s 14th Street restaurant, Kapnos, Viktorovich is again creating modern and innovative cocktails.
How would you describe the bar scene at Kapnos?
It’s more of a late night crowd with a lot of couples near the 25 to 35-year-old range. People come here especially for the cocktails. In terms of the scene, we kind of filter through because we are on W and 14th. So fewer people head north from R Street, and so we don’t always get the same scene that 14th Street is known for.
What is your favorite drink on the menu?
Prince of Persia made with scotch and papaya shrub. It has a light, sweet tanginess. Another popular one is the Hollywood, which is similar to a Manhattan with savory and sweet notes.
What is your favorite “drunk food” spot in D.C.?
Daikaya at Gallery Place Chinatown. I love soup!
What neighborhoods do you tend to hang out in?
I tend to stick around here because it’s easy for me to leave work and grab a drink at Bar Pilar.
How would you make jungle juice?
Everclear, some whiskey, grape juice, a little lemon, some apple. If you want a little spice, you can make a serrano chili-cinnamon syrup.
How would you describe D.C. bar culture?
Definitely expanding. People are getting a lot more knowledgeable in terms of cocktails and spirits. The cocktail culture has really evolved since a lot of bars are doing their own craft drinks — which is nice but it can cause a little confusion because people can forget how to really make the classics along the way. It’s expanding, and it’s growing, but it can get lost along the way.
Since you’re a recent college grad, where would you recommend that juniors and seniors go to if they’re looking for something a little different?
This whole quarter is great, especially for happy hour. Le Diplomat is a new place that has a good culture and great charcuterie.
What is your favorite drink of the moment?
The sazerack: It’s rye whiskey, bitters, a little simple syrup and absinthe, so it has a little bit of licorice flavor.
Founding member and President of the D.C. Craft Bartenders Guild Owen Thompson has been a key influence on the capital’s cocktail culture. Working with renowned chefs such as José Andres and Bryan Voltaggio, Thompson creates unique cocktails, that feature uncommon ingredients such as kimchee broth, veal stock,and real pig’s blood. Now beverage director of Bar Pilar and Café Saint-Ex, D.C. native Thompson defines himself as more of a “bar man” than a “restaurant guy.”
What is the D.C. Craft Bartender’s Guild?
It started in 2008. It’s a way to keep us involved as a community. We share information and do a couple of big events and have monthly meetings. It’s a way for us to stay together.
How would you describe the culture of Bar Pilar?
It’s really a neighborhood place. You can come here to have a full dinner, or have a few drinks and it also has the rowdy late night aspect. You can come really for whatever and whenever. It tends to be one of the places that’s still busy during the week with people who live around here. Friday and Saturdays are a little different because we get people from all over the area, since U Street and 14th Street have become the place to hang out at.
What is the age range at Bar Pilar?
It tends to be mid- to late 20s, maybe early 30s.
What is your favorite drink on the menu?
We have specialty cocktails and I just came out with a new cocktail menu. But my favorite drinks are always the classics, like old fashions.
What’s your favorite “drunk food” place in D.C.?
D.C. doesn’t have a ton of really good late night food options. I live near H Street and the guys at Boundery Road have a late night menu that I usually hit up.
What neighborhood do you like hanging out in?
I really like the Bloomingdale area, even though there isn’t a ton of stuff, just Boundary Stone, The Red Hen, Showtime. Enough to keep me entertained.
What are your suggestions for a good jungle juice recipe?
At my first bartending job I ever had, my boss told me to just make it the right color and people would like it.
How would you describe D.C. bar culture? And how has it changed over the years?
I grew up here in D.C., but what has gone on in D.C. in the bar and restaurant scene has been pretty amazing. It’s changed from a place where most of the restaurants were utilitarian, like you had to have some steak house and such. Whereas now we have a lot of people putting out food and drink that are comparable to other big cities.
Where is your favorite place to get a drink on U Street?
I always hang out at the Black Cat because when I was in high school that was the only place that was down here. I used to hang out here before I worked here.