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Where: Johnny’s Half Shell, 400 North Capitol St. NW
Bartender response: “Wooooo! Let’s get some Champagne out.”
What we got: A glass of 2006 Domaine de Martinolles
How it tasted: Like Champagne
Improv points (1–5): 2. Champagne is the most obvious choice possible, but the bartender toasted us and poured us refills—so, bonus point.
Where: Jack Rose, 2007 18th St. NW
Bartender response: “Congratulations!”
What we got: Gin, St. Germain, Combier, lemon and lime juice, Lillet Rouge, and an egg white served up
How it tasted: Thanks to the St. Germain and Lillet Rouge, this really, really fancy gin fizz was sweeter than its lowbrow incarnation. On the first sip, it was refreshing. Halfway in, we were gulping water to cut the sensation of cramming SweeTarts into our mouth.
Improv points (1–5): 4. The number of pretentious liqueurs packed into this thing (Combier is just bourgie Triple Sec) nearly justified its price tag, and certainly made it a drink for a special occasion. Mostly, we appreciated that our bartender deployed a fizzy drink without defaulting to Champagne.
Where: Bourbon, 2321 18th St. NW
Bartender response: “That’s awesome!”
What we got: Bourbon, strawberry-basil syrup, and lemon juice shaken over ice, served with a lemon slice
Price: $6 (during happy hour)
How it tasted: Tart, but fruity—quite like our upscale gin fizz from Jack Rose, but thankfully less sugary. The bourbon was on full display, but the strawberry-basil syrup and lemon juice took its bite down a notch.
Improv points (1–5): 2. We know that Bourbon is a, well, bourbon-centric establishment, and weren’t expecting a whiz-bang milestone cocktail. Still, while we enjoyed sipping this, it wasn’t an extraordinary drink to celebrate an extraordinary life step.