Best Bartender

Best: Best (a tie): Derek Brown, the Gibson and Todd Thrasher, PX
2009 14th St. NW, (202) 232-2154 /728 King St., Alexandria, (703) 299-8384
2nd Best: Tom Brown, Cork
1720 14th St. NW, (202) 265-2675
Derek Brown and Todd Thrasher have been neck-and-neck for the title of everyone’s favorite bartender. But it’s Tom Brown at Cork who’s a go-to for something eclectic. Sure, it’s unusual to recommend cocktails at a wine bar where there’s no cocktail menu, but when Brown starts the conversation by asking, “What do you feel like drinking tonight?” you’d do well to give it a whirl. Once you’re a regular, Brown offers something playful like a “stripper shot,” or something elegant, like a hibiscus cocktail with Cava or a classic martini. The real pleasure is when Brown learns which flavors make you swoon—whether they’re baking spices, fruits, savories, or medicinals—and riffs from there.