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“I just went through a breakup. Make me a drink.”
Location: Smoke & Barrel, 2471 18th St. NW
Bartender reaction: “What kind of drink do you want?”
What we got: Old Overholt Rye with Bénédictine, lemon juice, and a lemon slice
How it tasted: The lemon additions distanced our drink from the most obvious Bénédictine -and-whiskey pairing, the Monte Carlo, and resulted in a strong, tart, totally sippable libation that took our minds off our personal life. At least for a moment.
Improv points (1-5): 3. We’ve railed against Bénédictine as the token liqueur du jour before (and, in fact, our bartender told us he only used the stuff because he’d recently obtained a bottle of it), but it really does do wonders when added to whiskey.
Location: Eatonville, 2121 14th St. NW
Bartender reaction: “I’m really sorry…”
What we got: A French 75, with Brokers gin, Patrón Citronge, lemon juice, and sparkling wine
How it tasted: Like a medicore French 75. Though the Citronge was a nice touch, this rendition of the classic cocktail was missing the sweetest ingredient: sugar. Still, it was boozy enough to staunch the pain.
Improv points (1-5): 1. The French 75 can be found on Eatonville’s cocktail menu and, though it’s a fine drink, it’s a rather boilerplate one to give to someone in emotional distress. Still, thanks for the sympathy, pal!
Location: BlackSalt, 4883 MacArthur Blvd. NW
Bartender reaction: “I’m so sorry. What kind of liquor do you like?”
What we got: A Brown Derby, with Maker’s Mark bourbon, grapefruit, lemon peel, and clover honey
Price: $12 (Note: Our very kind bartender comped it, but we tipped him the full price.)
How it tasted: Sweet, with a nice bitterness from the grapefruit. This was very similar to a previous cocktail we were recommended at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace—another member of the Jeff Black empire. But it’s tasty, and popular for a reason.
Improv points (1-5): 2. We’ve got to give one for sheer niceness (“We’re not all bad,” the male barkeep told me), but the drink itself was tame—we’d prefer something a little harder to drown our sorrows in.
—Alex Baca & Shani Hilton