Young and Hungry

Immigration Struggle Ongoing, JP Caceres Creates Cocktail Menu for Soi 38


Bartender JP Caceres is still fighting his immigration battle, but two weeks ago he had a victory: A D.C. judge found him not guilty of simple assault and other charges that had landed him an immigration detention center last December. Caceres will still be forced to return to his native Bolivia by May 20, but he is in the process of applying for an O Visa—available to people of extraordinary ability—that would allow him to then return to the U.S. In the meantime, Caceres is as busy as ever creating cocktails. In fact, since news of his deportation fight broke, he's signed a number of new clients who are eager to have him work for them before he's forced to leave.

Among those new clients is Thai restaurant Soi 38, opening next week from owners Nat Ongsangkoon and Dia Khanthongthip. The couple already own an Americanized Thai restaurant called Thai Place in Foggy Bottom, where they tried, unsuccessfully, to introduce diners to more authentic Thai food beyond pad Thai and panang curry. At Soi 38, however, they're be focusing exclusively on the foods they actually cook at at home and experienced in their native Bangkok. The restaurant gets its name from a famous street food district and night market in Bangkok.

Caceres is integrating Thai ingredients into his cocktails. And he's got every recent drink trend covered: bottled cocktails, draft cocktails, even tea pot punch. The latter beverage, served in a tea pot, incorporates Thai tea—plus whiskey, lemon juice, tamarind syrup, and chili bitters. The menu also features five mocktails. (Take a look at photos of the drinks below.)

Meanwhile, Caceres says he's recently consulted with The Carolina Kitchen and is working on cocktail menus for MXDC and Lebanese Taverna next.  For the long term, he's in the process of building an artisan ice, syrup, and tonics business that would provide cocktail ingredients to bars, restaurants, and caterers.

Even when Caceres does go back to Bolivia (temporarily or not), he plans to continue his cocktail consultancy from afar. He's extended the company to fellow bartenders Kevin Rogers and Glendon Hartley, who will help run things in his absence and communicate with him through Skype. Bolivia may hold some opportunities, too, as Caceres awaits the fate of his visa: Some TV producers there have approached him about starring in a cocktail-related show.

Check out photos and descriptions of some of the cocktails at Soi 38 below.

Thai Manhattan with Rittenhouse Rye, Pu'erh tea-infused vermouth, chili, and aromatic bitters ($13):


Pretty Little Lime with Fords Gin, kaffir lime-infused vermouth, orange bitters ($13):


The Emperor's Punch (serves four) with Monkey Shoulder Whiskey, lemon, housemade tamarind syrup, Thai herbal tea, and chili aromatic bitters ($35):


Menehune's Pankiller (in two sizes) with Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, Neisson Agricole Rhum, housemade coconut orgeat syrup, pineapple, orange, and yuzu ($18/$12):

photo 3

Lemon Lotus with Thai basil and cilantro-infused Tito's vodka, Patron Citronage, lemon, and housemade strawberry syrup ($12):


Non-alcoholic lemon lemongrass fizz with fresh lemon, housemade lemongrass syrup, and soda water ($5):


Non-alcoholic Lime Ginger Fizz with fresh lime, housemade ginger spiced syrup, lemongrass syrup, and soda water ($5):


Soi 38, 2101 L St. NW; (202) 558-9215;

Photos by Jessica Sidman

  • Huh?

    So we are trying to give O Visa's to bartenders now? Yeah, ok.

    From the USCIS Website:

    "To qualify for an O-1 visa, the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability."

    I am sorry, but the guy is a bartender. He isn't even of regional "acclaim", let alone national or international.

    Off he goes...

  • Mike

    Thank you, Huh? for defending life, liberty and the American way.

  • Typical DC BS

    So Mike, guess you're a fine example of a liberal whose "moral superiority" masks a failure to understand why this this guy should have been deported YEARS AGO?

  • Huh?

    I don't flagrantly ignore some nations laws for more than a decade, ignore repeated orders to leave all the while not bother trying to actually gain lawful citizenship...THEN have the temerity as a dime a dozen bartender to apply for the same Visa's requested by Nobel Peace Prize recipients. The barrier to entry is higher than the ability to make a strong jack and coke.

  • northwesterneer

    I feel like the City Paper is just trolling us to get a reaction out of us.

  • Ombudsman

    The only thing worse than a mediocre restaurant with insufferable pr is a mercenary bartender with a publicist.

  • sewsewsoso

    I have been trying to understand why this bartender has been getting so much press. Does he give the best relationship advice or something? Is he a real-life Moe? I agree with all of the comments here. Stop making this guy's 'plight' a story.

  • Max

    JP has contributed to the DC area for many years, in more ways that you fine folks even know. Not only has he worked his butt off starting from the lowest level in the food and beverage industry, to one of the top most influential mixologists in the area. In fact I would not be surprised if your local bartender was trained by JP.
    He has not only proven to be a valuable asset to the Food and Beverage community, but also has started a couple of legitimate companies that could soon grow enough to offer employment to local residents. Those of you who have nothing better to do that mask your ill informed judgments as patriotic nonsense, should take an example from JP and many others like him who work hard for what they have.

  • Gary

    Max, I agree with you, I have known JP for more than 20 years and I'm proud to call him my friend. And to all those PATRIOTS who have nothing better to do than to criticize my good friend, I can only say one thing: Weather he is in north AMERICA or south AMERICA....he is more AMERICAN than others....and will always be successful wherever he goes! Salud JP!!

  • To All Of You

    I'm not trying to make things worst but,
    i know Juan Pablo AKA JP since 2007 and he always was a Person with too much pride on himself, rude, greedy and very disrespectful.
    He wasn't the type of co-worker you wanted it to work with.
    This was not the first time he's got in trouble.
    he has been locked up before and lost a lot of things thanks to the ALCOHOL.
    He never listened to people and did whatever he wanted it.
    At the end all i can say is:
    You probably got away with a lot of things but sooner or later you will pay here or in the other side.
    Now that Juan Pablo is talented? yes, he is but, he isn't humble.
    He is just a person with his EGO over himself and I'm so sorry that most of you are blind.
    If you really want to know the truth about it, i will welcome you to visit the places where he has worked.
    ask people and you will have your answer.
    All i can tell to finish this Comment is good luck too him and i hope that he stops drinking and start making better choices in his life.

  • Red One

    O visa? If this guy (whom I worked before) thinks he qualifies for a specialty "extraordinary ability" we are all living in a land of zombies. This kid got married, her wife (Heather) had to call the police a few times because JP tried to kill himself, safe to say, a few times. Heather did not want to sign her immigration papers because she knew there is something really wrong with this fellow. Later, she had to pay for the divorce process because this "hard working" guy did not understand her right to move in life. We should ask Heather the type of person JP really is. While at it, JP was denied the right to buy a gun because of his suicidal behavior.

    And then, talk about his credit! JP owes thousands of dollars to different institutions and his credit score is probably negative.

    JP bought a Mercedez that guess what, because he could not make payments this car was repo. Again, what an American thing to do right?

    The US is better of JP Caceres. JP comes across as a nice guy, if you get to know him, he is a thief, a lier and someone who lives relying on his deceptiveness to everyone -including himself.

    Chau JP, stay away and stop lying of who you really are.