Colin Anderson, the head bartender at Cure restaurant, is practicing patience. Here's an example: The 27-year-old started experimenting with crafting his own amaro over a year ago, while he was still working at Bar Marco. I tried some a few weeks back, and it was magnificent. But Anderson isn't ready to share it yet: "Give in another six months or a year," he says, "and it's going to blow your mind."
Indeed, much like his boss Justin Severino, Anderson's alchemy hits the sweet spot at the crossroads of homespun techniques, contemporary vision and molecular gastronomy. "I've watched [Severino] so much, and I feel I'm at the point where I do what I'm doing and I'm confident that it fits with his vision," Anderson says.
Anderson says that a well-crafted drink should strike a balance between flavor, potency and visual appeal. "It's best when you build with layers," he says.
You can both taste and see that in his new spring cocktails. "Gin" is an artful blend of house-made vermouth that Anderson then infused with violets, roses and pansies, as well as fernet and an apricot liqueur made from last summer's fruit. It's garnished with a royal purple flower and caviar-like pearls of lime juice. In "Rum," a dehydrated apple is "glued" to the side of the glass with a reduction of Negroni; a blood-orange foam adds a welcome jolt of acidity.
Anderson credits his growth to Severino's trust, and to the encouragement he found at his previous places of employment (Cross Keys Inn, Bar Marco). He also considers iconic Washington, D.C., barman Derek Brown a mentor. "Most bartenders never get the chance to fool around with this kind of stuff," he says. "I've been lucky to work at places that really let me explore what I want to do."
And that's why he can afford to be a little patient. "At this point I know what I want," he says. "I'm really focused."