A few weeks ago I made a list of the Best Bites in DC by Neighborhood and on my list of places I am dying to try, was the Betsy. Even a scorching 97 degree evening couldn't keep me from checking out this adorable new spot. Just through the alley next to Belga Café, you'll find colorful murals and small chicken tracks leading to this hidden garden rooftop.
Before arriving at Betsy, I knew that they had an impressive spread of 25 different gins and signature cocktails. What I didn't know was the story behind the gin. Chef Bart, (Bart Vandaele) owner of Belga Café, B Too, and of course, Betsy, explained the history of gin and its ties to Belgium. Gin, also known as genever, genièvre, or more popularly, jenever, dates back to the Middles Ages, when wine was prepared with juniper berries.
The influence of gin at Betsy made a bit more sense considering the context. It's far more than just a neighborhood rooftop barbecue joint, it's a gin lover's dream. And even for those who think they don't like gin, these cocktails will make you change your mind.
Among my favorites were:
Bluecoat with Dever Tree Bitter Lemon and Lavender
Bombay Sapphire with Fentimans Tonic, cucumber and watermelon ice (pictured below)
The Botanist with Fever Tree Mediterranean, cardamom, lavender
T&M Salad Heirloom tomatoes & mozzarella with oil drizzle and basil
Lumpia Style Chicken & Crab Sticks with Sriracha Mayo and Korean BBQ
Ham & Cheese Hush Puppy Endive Fritters
Fun Fact: All of the herbs and edible flowers are fresh from Chef Bart's garden.
Beer-braised short rib with French toast biscuit, grain mustard and pickled celery root
Ocean Candies grilled scallops with green peas and asparagus
Everything about Betsy is even more charming than I anticipated. Hearing Chef Bart's story, tasting the gin cocktails and eating the flavorful foods and herbs made for a perfect dinner. The meal ended perfectly with a small gift from Chef Bart, my very own cocktail herb garden in a Betsy egg carton. Consider this my new favorite place in DC. Thanks for having me Betsy!
Make sure to check out Betsy for yourself and follow them on Instagram and Facebook! Also, if you're looking for a quintessential summer activity, make sure to join the Betsy for a crawfish boil July 26th on the rootop garden from 5-8 p.m.
Can't make it? Mark your calendar for the rest:
July - Backyard BBQ- Sunday July 24
August- Crab Fest - Sunday August 28
September- Pig Roast - Sunday September 2
Photography: Libby Rasmussen