Martini drinkers tend to be very specific when it comes to their orders: wet, dry, bone dry, dirty, and so on. But most people aren't all that savvy when it comes to the many potential variations of other cocktails. Thankfully, a new H Street NE cocktail bar Copycat Co. makes it easy to explore the possible permutations and sound smart while ordering them. The menu focuses exclusively on classic cocktails with succinct explanations of what's in them and ways to tweak them.
"I feel like a lot of people order drinks because that's what they know how to order," says owner Devin Gong, who previously worked at Barmini. "So I think this menu is going to help."
One side of the menu never changes with standbys like Manhattans, martinis, old fashioneds, sours, fizzes, collins, and more. The other side will rotate daily with variations of other classics, some of which are cited to specific bars or bartenders. For example, one of these menus includes six twists on fixes (lemon or lime, sugar, booze) and six twists on smashes (muddled lemon, mint, sugar, and booze). Gong also developed menus with variations on daiquiris, juleps, and "south of the border" drinks like margaritas, mojitos, and caipirinhas. The bartenders will choose which menu to present each day. Every cocktail on the menu is $11.
Gong went to the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, and the name Copycat Co. comes from a building where a lot of the "art kids" lived. But the name also plays into the fact that Gong is "copying" recipes from elsewhere. One menu credits cocktails from New York's Milk & Honey, along with other notable mixologists. Local bartenders will also get shout-outs, although they won't necessarily know it in advance.
Despite all the cocktail geekery, Gong doesn't want Copycat Co. to seem pretentious. That's where the potstickers and skewers served on metal trays come in. Gong used family recipes for the northern Chinese potstickers (two for $1.50) and steamed bao ($1.25 each). There are also chicken, beef, and lamb skewers—one of Gong's favorites when he visits China and his go-to recipe for friends at barbecues. Gong plans to eventually expand the menu to include soup specials, plus boiled wontons with chili oil, scallions, and cilantro.
"I'm just going to do what I know how to do and try my best to do them," Gong says.
The food is available to-go downstairs, which has a more casual, brighter feel than the main bar upstairs. You can also sit and eat downstairs, but only beers, not cocktails, are available there. The kitchen is open until last call— 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends.
Check out the full menus below.
Copycat Co., 1110 H Street NE; (202) 241-1952; copycatcompany.com
Photo courtesy Copycat Co.