A champagne bucket clothed in white linen holds a dozen or more almost-blown, blood red Peruvian roses; their shadows like wine stains on the gray marble back bar. The bucket nestles against an old wooden box tipped on its side to house an exotic selection of southern continent liqueurs – Yzaguirre Blanco Reserva, Ocueaje Pisco, Santiago Querdo, DeMonde dela Andes Tacama.

To the right, three large glass canisters looking like aquaria, hold fermenting cherries and citrus and peppers for unfamiliar future cocktails. My eyes move down the tableau of even more boxes holding more piscos with near unpronounceable names, and more glass carafes filled with what appear to be infusing pineapple, grapes and jicama.

Atop the boxes, an odd assortment of silver shakers and variously shaped glassware, artfully filled with cinnamon sticks, reflect the soft light of electric bulbs designed to feel like gas lamp. With the muted melodies of Spanish cancion drifting down from hidden speakers in the ceiling, I can almost pretend to be sitting in a neighborhood boite in Iquitos. Almost.
Almost, because if I were to turn around, I would find myself in the ultra-chic dining room of Chef Jose Andres’ China Chilcano (pronounced chE nah chill kahn o) in Washington DC; and if I were to listen beyond the gentle guitar music of Joabim, I would hear murmured conversations that have nothing to do with the exquisite fusion of Peruvian and Asian foods laid before us by the young and the beautiful. The conversations this night center on the latest Gordian twist in our body politic – the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Two days ago I would not have thought this election cycle could a get any more divisive, but Voila!

With an unexpected February snow piling higher on the near empty streets of a federal city celebrating the last few hours of a federal holiday; and with sodden flags flying forlornly at half-mast in the bone-numbing grey chill; I have to wonder who among our Presidential candidates can broker détente in the Cold War being waged on the Hill. No longer do we have protagonists on the stage of debate, only antagonists who seem to find satisfaction in perpetuating this ever deepening, deep freeze…oh, how I long for Spring.