22 MAY/JUNE 2016 | BETHESDAMAGAZINE.COM
to our readers
Editor-in-Chief & Publisher
AS RECENTLY AS 10 years ago, drinking wasn’t
an essential part of the dining experience in Bethesda-
area restaurants. Only white table cloth restaurants
(remember them?) had extensive wine lists, and the
craft beer and cocktail trends were in their infant
stages. A bartender was a bartender, not a “mixologist”
or “beverage director.”
Today, even pedestrian restaurants curate their
wine offerings, craft beers have become ubiquitous,
and inventive cocktails have been elevated to a very
profitable art form. At the new Kapnos Kouzina in
Bethesda, for example, the cocktail selections include
the “Chloe & Llamas” with Macchu Pisco, Campari,
cocoa nib, banana orgeat, lime and egg white. (My late
father, who was buried with notes from his grandkids
and his martini shaker, wouldn’t have approved.)
Bars themselves were once afterthoughts when it
came to restaurant design. They were generally small
and out of the way—the places where patrons sat until
their tables were ready. These days, bars are usually
the centerpieces of new restaurants. At three notable
new establishments—Kapnos and PassionFish in
Bethesda, and Stanford Grill in Rockville—the bars are
large and prominent.
In this, our 12th annual dining issue, we look at
the Bethesda area’s suddenly vibrant bar scene. Due
to demographics and Montgomery County laws, our
bar scene is different from what you’ll find on D.C.’s U
Street or in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington.
There are few places here that are bars first and
restaurants second. Instead, most successful Bethesda-area restaurants have made their bars and drink
“programs” an integral part of their operations.
In our story, we suggest where—and what—to drink
in the Bethesda area. Our recommendations include
the best places to get Don Draper-worthy martinis
and creative cocktails, as well as the swankiest bars,
and those with the best whiskey selections. We also
provide insights into how restaurants choose their
wine and beer lists, how several signature cocktails
came to be, and how to buy good wine for not much
Our coverage begins on page 136.
WHEN MY KIDS PLAYED sports at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, they (and I) looked forward
to The Gazette’s coverage of their teams and of high
school sports in general. Even as The Gazette was
suffering financially in the years before it closed last
June, the paper continued to do sports well. The void
in coverage following the closure has been palpable.
I’m pleased to announce that Bethesda Beat,
Bethesda Magazine’s online news briefing, is hoping
to fill that void. Jennifer Beekman, a longtime Gazette
sports reporter, is writing two stories a week—a
preview of upcoming games on Fridays and a report
on notable team and individual performances on
You can read the sports coverage—and all Bethesda
Beat stories—at BethesdaMagazine.com.
IF YOU’RE READING THIS before the evening
of May 12, you still have time to come to Bethesda
Magazine’s third annual Best of Bethesda Party. The
party will be held that evening starting at 6: 30 p.m.
at Park Potomac. Food will be provided by 17 Best of
Bethesda-winning restaurants, and there will be music
by The 19th Street Band. Go to BethesdaMagazine.
com for more information and tickets.
I hope to see you there!
RAISING THE BAR