How did you become a co-owner and bar manager here at The National?
After working at the Five and Ten’s bar, Hugh Acheson approached me about helping to open The National and manage the bar. Of course I jumped on the opportunity.
How would you describe your taste in wine and other drinks offered at the bar?
I definitely have a traditional taste when it comes to wine. I’m inspired by old-world influences and the European tradition of making wine. These purveyors are farmers, they’re gardeners, and they know their craft.
And what inspires the distinct feel you and the other owners have created for the restaurant?
When people think of The National, I want them to picture a place where they can simply enjoy great food and wine. Chef Dale and the rest of our cooks do a phenomenal job creating a dynamic and delicious menu everyday…it makes my job easy. I also think our staff is critical to the unique experience. Thanks to our setting in a college town, everyone has their own pursuits outside of the restaurant, from art and photography to music to academia. I think this makes The National a place to come together and mingle with truly interesting people.
Why do you recommend people attend your special wine dinners and tastings in addition to enjoying the regular menu?
These special events, particularly our wine dinners, allow the kitchen to prepare a special menu that often falls out of the norm of the restaurant. For example, our Italian Reds Wine Dinner this Wednesday evening draws from influences far from our typical Mediterranean elements. These five course pairings of food and wine always turn out to be phenomenal and really show off our creativity at The National. These special events are also a great opportunity to learn about wine and food pairings. This Wednesday, Michael Hirsch from Avant Partir will be talking through the wine selection as each course is served. Plus, wine dinners and tastings offer a chance to try fine wines that might otherwise be unavailable to the regular consumer or out of your typical price range. For an evening of exceptional food and wine, our wine events are the best deal around.
So what’s your favorite menu item and what would you pair with it?
It has to be Boquerones with Vinho Verde. You can’t beat it, and they’re both always on the menu.
What about seasonal drinks, do you have a favorite?
I can’t wait for our Hot Toddies. We blend tea and whiskey with honey, lemon and herbal notes to create a cocktail that really takes the chill off winter nights. In the next few weeks we’ll shift to our special winter cocktail menu, and it’s always exciting to add new drinks to our classic line-up. Our new ideas often come from “quickfire challenges” between our talented bartenders.
in this photo…
Chris Luken’s children, Jack and Eloise