Zen-Out at the Mandarin
Another wonderful highlight from my last trip to Washington was the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. I went to check out the Empress Lounge cocktails, yet marveled at so much more!
Obviously, any Mandarin Oriental, worldwide, is expected to feel stunningly opulent and luxurious, and DC's is no exception. As I whisked through the front doors and into the Mandarin’s tranquil elegance, it was like being slowly submerged into a warm, jasmine-scented bubble bath, a parallel reality on the Potomac. The dreary cloak of heavy energy (which occasionally envelops me while in the Nations Capital) melted away. Marbled floors, exotic floral arrangements bursting with color and fragrance, and the sprawling depiction of a Chinese goddess swinging over the city immediately transport the visitor from the first step into the lobby.
My fun little jaunt around the hotel included popping into the AAA five-diamond award-winning featured restaurant, CityZen. The luscious surroundings where Executive Chef Eric Ziebold (formerly of Napa’s French Laundry, LA’s Spago and NY’s Per Se) treats diners to his internationally recognized cuisine was immediately added to my husband’s list of “Suggested Holiday Treats For Wifey…”.
Being a sushi addict, I was excited to meet Master Sushi Chef Minoru Ogawa of the Mandarin’s sophisticated yet accessible other culinary hot-spot, Café Mozu. Featuring Asian specialties for power lunches and relaxing dinners, it also has a private dining area (for holiday parties or business meetings) and views of the tidal basin.
Then, there’s the Mandarin Oriental’s 10,000 square foot, four-star spa... I didn’t see actual treatment rooms but judging from the greeting area, I feel confident in saying that it would be well worth spending the time (and $) to indulge. Clients experiencing a full day of pampering also get nourished on the inside with a healthy bento box lunch.
Finally, this brings me to the original excuse for poking around the lavish lodging… the cocktails! In addition to alcoholic libations (a couple of highlights, below) the Empress Lounge offers non-alcoholic, health-conscious Elixirs. Every bit as fun and fancy as liquor drinks, a few colorful Elixirs to try are: Virtual Buddha (enhances awareness, bestows serenity), Depth Re-charger (replenishes, re-hydrates, helps with jetlag), and Tame the Elements (strengthens immunity, eliminates toxins). The lounge also features live entertainment 5 nights a week.
Now for the booze:
Gillespie Chocolate Martini
2 oz. Godiva Chocolate liqueur
1 oz. Pomegranete Juice
1/2 oz. Lime Juice
Shake ingredients and pour into chilled martini glass. (This drink is soooo delicious. It has a nice blend of sweet and tart. It tastes just like an éclair hard candy with the creamy chocolate center.)
1 oz. Raspberry Vodka
5 fresh basil leaves
4 fresh raspberries
3 fresh Black Berries
Splash Simple Syrup
Splash Sour Mix
Muddle basil and berries in a rocks glass. Shake vodka, simple syrup and sour mix, then pour over muddled mixture. Top with Sprite and garnish with lemon, strawberry, and grape.