Where to Drink in DC: Iron Gate for Brunch + Nicolaki Cocktail Recipe + Mockolaki Mocktail Recipe

Where to Drink in DC: Iron Gate for Brunch + Nicolaki Cocktail Recipe + Mockolaki Mocktail Recipe

Where to Drink in DC: Iron Gate for Brunch

Veteran’s Day 2015 was a happy day for us. We’d moved to DC at the end of that summer, and after a couple of months of settling in, making our way through the government HR and clearance process (for one of us), and searching for a job (for the other), we had both started our new jobs. Veteran’s Day was our first holiday as DC workers. Back in Boston, Veteran’s Day is when you start to settle in for a long winter. In DC, it was a beautiful, crisp fall day, cool enough for a comfy sweater, warm enough to sit outside, which we did, in the courtyard of Iron Gate restaurant for a lovely, leisurely lunch with Wigle Whiskey. We’ll be forever fond of Iron Gate as the place we first met the creative and kind people behind Wigle. Plus, the food is great and the drinks are awesome.

In their cozy dining room, Iron Gate offers an excellent fixed course menu; it was perfect for a Christmas dinner. Out in the open air courtyard and in the enclosed carriageway that serves as their bar, they serve Mediterranean-inspired small plates a la carte. The dishes are perfectly balanced between familiar and fresh–comfort food with a pleasing little twists.

When we had some family visiting town a few weeks ago, we could think of nowhere we’d rather take them for brunch than Iron Gate.

What We Ordered

Summertime in Sardegna … or DC: Ivy City gin, mirto, pomegranate, house summer sumac tonic

Mockolaki: pineapple juice, water, honey, lemon, Greek yogurt

What We Thought

With one of us pregnant and therefore not drinking right now, we have a little routine when we order drinks. She takes a drink of her mocktail, and says, ‘Oh, that’s pretty good.’ Then she takes a small sip of the cocktail and immediately regrets it; with comparison, the mocktail she’ll be drinking pales. Well, at Iron Gate the mocktail finally got its win.

The rest of us ordered Summertime in Sardegna, and it was a really nice, refreshing highball. It was round and fruity with just the right tart and herbal notes. There weren’t any mocktails on the menu, but the server said he would ask the bartender to put something together. What arrived was marvelous. There was a nice balance of sweet and sour, but what really put it over the top was the blend of two kinds of sour, from the lemon and the yogurt. The Mockolaki won the round easily–over a very good brunch cocktail.

The bartender was kind enough to come out to our table to check on how the mocktail went over, and she shared the recipe with us as well. If you’re looking for a good mocktail, make your way to Iron Gate immediately.

We also give Iron Gate points for using unusual and intriguing ingredients well in their drinks. We encountered mirto (a Sardinian evergreen liqueur) at Monteverde in Chicago, and enjoyed. We hadn’t seen it again until Iron Gate, when we were reminded we really need to find out more about it. And we loved the yogurt-based drinks we tried in France, but we haven’t been able to replicate them entirely successfully. It’s nice now to have a recipe for one.

Mockolaki Mocktail and Nicolaki Cocktail Recipe

copyright Iron Gate Restaurant


  • 1 1/2 oz pineapple juice and water(Mock) or vodka (Nic)–we did a 50/50 mix of juice and water
  • 1 oz honey–we cut this down a notch
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1 barspoon Greek yogurt–we made this a big, rounded one
  • sprig of rosemary, for garnish


  • Combine all but the rosemary in a cocktail shaker.
  • Fill the shaker with ice above the level of the liquid.
  • Shake for 20 seconds.
  • Strain into a cocktail glass.
  • Garnish.

Roberts & June