Let us introduce you to Rachel Kling, a top bartender and sommelier at Quill located in the Jefferson Hotel here in D.C. Kling excels in cocktail creations, adding her own spice of life to each new D.C. drink. We sat down with her to get a better look inside the mind of cocktails like the Ruth Bader Gin & Juice.
1. The average adult loves to enjoy a drink now and again but you’ve turned it into a career. What about the job inspires you every day?
Bartending in DC is such a multi-faceted, fun industry and I truly enjoy what I do, for which I am so grateful. My team of bar-tners in crime at Quill are some of my closet friends and our dynamic is amazingly unique, which is fun for both sides of the bar! Our level of respect for each other’s skill and knowledge allows us to continually learn from each other and grow as a bar. My job allows me so much creative freedom to work with truly incredible products and just about any idea I have or educational opportunity I want to pursue is encouraged, which constantly keeps me engaged – as in my heart, I am an über nerd. What truly keeps me inspired on a daily basis, though, is the revolving door of incredible guests at Quill. Being an outlet of the Jefferson Hotel in downtown DC, and down the street from the White House, affords us the opportunity to attract some of the world’s movers and shakers, and I adore the great group of regulars we have developed who keep me at the top of my game!
2. You’re at your favorite cocktail bar in the District. Where are you and what do you order?
You mean besides Quill, of course? I am lucky enough to be in a city chock full of amazingly creative and talented bartendresses and bartenders with seasonal, dynamic cocktail menus. For the summer, I love to visit Christine Kim at Tico for a Papa Made Bail, a fiery Pisco drink they serve on tap, and the always entertaining Morgan Stana for an herbaceous and refreshing Le Papillon at Le Diplomate. The boys in Dram & Grain always manage to delight and surprise me with their libations, I may or may not have drank my way through several seatings in an evening there…
3. You have a background in law and have named the Notorious R.B.G. (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) as one of your heroes. You even have a drink named after her! Hypothetically, one day, RBG comes into your bar and sits in front of you. What do you talk about?
Not to humble brag, but we have had the pleasure of hosting a Justice or two recently, although I haven’t yet encountered the woman, myth and legend herself. I’m crossing my fingers that this hypothetical comes true! Honestly, I do my best to treat all guests with the same courtesy, and that includes allowing my more recognizable guests the freedom to enjoy a peaceful beverage on their terms. Were my previous life in international human rights law to be comfortably woven into conversation I would cross that bridge when I got there, but when I have a guest in front of me the night is about them, not me. I would probably conclude a visit from RBG with at least something to the effect of what an honor it was to serve her and I deeply appreciate and respect her life’s work. I’ve had some of her law clerks also come in, so I’m hoping she has at least heard of the homage! It was VERY popular on June 26th!
4. What have you learned in your days bartending in this strange and secretive city?
Sometimes it’s best to keep your mouth shut. I never cease to be amazed by human behavior, and I mean that both positively and negatively, but discretion is a bartender’s best friend!
5. What’s your favorite drink for summer (alcoholic or non-)?
A Leopold’s Gin negroni on the rocks with a flamed orange peel. I love the florality Leopold’s imparts to balance the bitter Campari and ideally the original, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth. Stirred only, please. Like everyone else, I’m on the sparkling rosé train, and Billecart-Salmon is always a good idea, but I also enjoy Jean-Pierre Legret’s elegantly crisp rosé champagne whenever possible!