Len DePas Photography


Todd Thrasher
Restaurant Eve
110 South Pitt Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 706-0450

Recipe »

Will Blunt: How did you develop an interest in mixology?
Todd Thrasher: By drinking a lot, seriously! I was a bartender all through college and when I graduated and got a regular job I wasn’t making much money, so I started bartending again.

WB: Who are your mentors?
TT: I worked with Jose Andres for seven years, and he was very encouraging. I got really into Caribbean cocktails like caipirinhas and mojitos working at Café Atlantico with Jose. Cathal Armstrong has helped me tremendously, showing me how different flavors work together. I get a lot of ingredients from the kitchen in my drinks, not just bar liquors mixed together. We would prefer our guests have a fun cocktail, instead of a glass of champagne, upon entering Restaurant Eve.

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Todd Thrasher
Restaurant Eve and The PX | Washington DC

Virginia native Todd Thrasher has a keen eye for translating seasonal local ingredients into cocktails. Thrasher’s well-rounded restaurant career began at age 15 when he began working in local kitchens. Feeling an immediate sense of comfort and ease, Thrasher knew he had found a home in the hospitality industry. After attending Virginia Commonwealth University for two years, Thrasher answered his true calling and took a bartending position at the Carlyle Grand Café. Four years later Thrasher moved on to a position as bartender at Gabriel in 1996, where he formed a pivotal relationship with Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong.

Soon after, Thrasher left Gabriel to open Café Atlantico Thrasher spent six and a half years at Café Atlantico, managing and developing his skills as a “liquid savant.” Under the direction of Jose Andres, Thrasher experimented with an innovative cocktail menu and became interested in a Carribean style of mixology including caipirinhas and caipiroscas. Thrasher adopted Andres’ spirit of innovation and alta cocina attitude to mixology incorporating foams, hot and cold airs and techniques from the savory kitchen. These creative touches and a well-honed palate prepared Thrasher for his next adventure with the Armstrongs across the Potomac in Alexandria: Restaurant Eve.

At Restaurant Eve, Thrasher has created a team of sommeliers that search the restaurant’s wine list with each guest’s entire order, making sure each bottle is chilled, corked and ready as each dish approaches the table. Along with each pairing comes a brief commentary on the region and flavor, right down to the bottle used and why the label looks a certain way. All of these elements add to the intensity of this intimate dining experience. According to Thrasher, “when a guest remarks to me that they are unfamiliar with the wines on the list, I take that as the biggest compliment to the restaurant.”

The dining experience at Restaurant Eve is completed by Thrasher’s relentlessly innovative cocktail menu, created with a unique blend of ingredients that changes with the season. In his Tomato Water Bloody Mary, Thrasher creates a clear, flavorful tomato water as a base for the cocktail and then combines it lemongrass, peppers, and Grey Goose citron vodka. Another signature is Jose’s “Yin and Tonic”, a play on the traditional Gin and Tonic and mentor Jose Andres’ pronunciation of the drink. Thrasher begins with house-made tonic then balances it out with Citadelle gin and a lime twist. Inspired by the bounty of seasonal peaches, Thrasher’s Millions of Peaches uses peaches poached in a late harvest Riesling, as well as Champagne vinegar-pickled peaches, sugar and peach vodka. Thrasher pairs the composed drink with a side of peach air and foie gras spread over a peach brioche toast.

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Interview Cont'd
WB: Do you have any formal training?
TT: In 1997 I completed the first level with the Court of Sommeliers but I didn’t go any farther. It took the fun out of it for me!

WB: What are some current trends in mixology?
TT: People are marrying wine and liquor. For instance, we poach pears in Sauternes and currants in Gewürztraminer.

WB: What inspires you? What is your creative process?
TT: I had a bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc the other day. It was very acidic and all I could taste was gooseberries. So I wanted to make a cocktail that mimicked that experience. I mixed gin, gooseberries and Sauvignon Blanc to add complexity to that tart flavor. I usually spend a couple of months developing, experimenting and tasting. When I’ve got the drink right where I want it, I ask everyone in the restaurant to taste my creation and improve upon it.

WB: What are your favorite products to use or make?
TT: I don’t like flavored vodkas so I make my own. I use fresh herbs, fruits and other produce that’s in season. I make my own sweet vermouth which took about two months to perfect.

WB: What is your favorite cocktail at the moment?
TT: Pisco Sours come out perfect every time if you stick to the recipe. I use one ounce each of egg whites, lime juice, 1 ½ ounces of Pisco, and a Tablespoon of sugar. I use Peruvian Pisco, which is where it comes from originally. Even though Chile claims they came up with it, I’m on Peru’s side! When I’m drinking though, I like a Captain Morgan and Coke. I love rum! It’s all I drink besides wine.

WB: What are your favorite cookbooks?
TT: I have a Cuban drink book, but I prefer The French Laundry. I use the food ideas and apply them to my drinks: mint oil, pickling techniques, all kinds of things.

WB: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
TT: For now, I want to make Eve better and better and strive for the elusive fourth star. I want to continue making better more innovative cocktails. There’s talk of something new but for now I am very happy.

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   Published: October 2006