Bourbon and Bulleit: An Evening at Smith Commons

A Guys Dream = Bourbon. Rye Whiskey. Live music. Learning from a true Scottish “Master of Whiskey” on how to properly taste the spirits. Stories of garmentless gals in New Orleans. My dream came true during an “Evening of Bourbon and Convers

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ation with Tom Bulleit” at Smith Commons Dining Room and Public House.

The Kentucky Buck Before

The Kentucky Buck Before

The entire evening was Bulleit centric, from the drinks through Bulleit-infused menu items from Chef Kamal Chanaka. Every item on the menu either mirrored the distillation process and flavor profile of a Bulleit spirit or was paired with Bulleit. The Sous Vide Filet Mignon with Crispy Potato Pancake was quite popular, as I recall having to fend off several other diners for mine. Smith Commons also featured a specialty cocktail for the evening, The Kentucky Buck. This drink, showcasing Bulleit bourbon, featured a number of ingredients highlighted by strawberry puree and ginger beer, was a delightful way to kick off the event. While I am not a huge fan of strawberry or fruity drinks, the smokiness and bold flavor flavor of Bulleit was present with each sip. This smoky bold flavor, driven by its higher rye content and higher alcohol content, was easily blended with the fruit flavors by a bit of ginger beer.

As the evening progressed, we become privy to entertaining conversation and information session with none other than Tom Bulleit, founder of Bulleit Bourbon, and Ewan Morgan, Master of Whiskey for Diageo North America. A Georgetown law school alumni, Bulleit had served as Marine and pursued law as a career. Fortunately for all of us, bourbon was in his blood. Using his great-great-grandfather Augustus’ recipe for bourbon, Bulleit distilled truly unique bourbon.

The Kentucky Buck After

I had the pleasure of speaking with Bulleit towards the end of the evening. His love of bourbon poured into every sentence he said to me. This was most evident when I asked him what he thought the best starter cocktail was for people who are new to bourbon.

“The best starter cocktail for bourbon is bourbon” ~ Bulleit

He believes that the best drink you can order is “a BLT- Bulleit, Lemon, and Tonic.” He described it as dangerous and delicious. Upon hearing this I lost composure and nearly drooled while I thought of the epic combination of a BLT with a BLT sandwich.

The bourbon renaissance has not gone unnoticed by Bulleit. He continually made mention of what he refers to as “chemistry.” He appreciates a mixologist’s craft, and made sure to thank the work of the staff behind the bar at Smith Commons. He believes that Bulleit creates the first piece of chemistry, and then turns it over to the bar to finish the rest. This chemistry has always had a place in D.C., according to Bulleit. “D.C. has always been a good market. D.C. is very Southern in atmosphere and Southerners drink bourbon.”

Tom Bulleit. Photo by Smith Commons

While there are a number of great bars in this city at which to drink bourbon, try and make Smith Commons one of those stops. Nestled into the H Street/Atlas Corridor, Smith Commons provides a modern and striking atmosphere. Seasonal outdoor patios and giant windows overlooking H Street provide a fantastic for grabbing dinner and a smooth glass of Bulleit Bourbon.

Smith Commons Dining Room and Public House- 1245 H St, NE Washington, DC 20002

Post by “The Golden Boy” of Dining in DC

Contributor, Sean O’Brien

Sean O’Brien is Dining in DC’s only (and therefore strongest and most intelligent) male contributor. Before he became a Daywalker, Sean was a bartender and bar manager for longer than his parents care to admit. A Marylander born and raised, Sean has spent the better part of his twenties exploring and tasting DC from every corner. Sean is the author of failed legislation mandating that every week involve crabs, bacon, beer, bourbon or Old Bay. A student of the Anthony Bourdain School of Thought, Sean believes that the body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.
When he is not working or eating, Sean is likely to be found biking or hiking around DC. Follow him on Twitter at @sotweets, but be prepared for sarcasm and comments about people who say “YOLO” (You only live once) or “totes.”


  1. Smith Commons » Blog Archive » An Evening of Whiskey and Conversation with Tom Bulleit - July 24, 2012

    [...] Dining In DC has a great roundup of the event, plus a followup conversation with Tom Bulleit. Check it out. [...]

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