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“I’m smitten. Make me a drink.”
Where: Bar Dupont, 1500 New Hampshire Ave. NW
Bartender response: “I couldn’t even tell you. A Budweiser?”
What we got: A Cosmopolitan
How it tasted: Like your typical Cosmo. That is, sweet and inoffensive, unless you’re offended by the most ubiquitous drink of the last decade.
Improv points (1-5): 1. If negative points were allowed, this drink would get them. Between the bartender’s disinterest and the unimaginative choice, we were so unimpressed we left without even finishing the drink.
Where: Bar Rouge, 1315 16th St. NW
Bartender response: “Hmm, I don’t really have a Valentine’s drink yet…maybe something warm?”
What we got: A Rusty Nail with Jack Daniels, Drambuie, and a twist
How it tasted: Sweet, of course. But it also hit a sweet spot in terms of spice and whiskey.
Improv points (1-5): 3. It took a little Q&A with the bartender, but the willingness to help a drinker figure out what to quaff goes a long way.
Where: Graffiato, 707 6th St. NW
Bartender response: “We’ve got something for that.”
What we got: Virginia is for Lovers, with Catoctin Creek gin, local wine, carpano, orange-infused aperol, blood orange bitters, and an orange peel
How it tasted: Smooth, strong, and—of course—citrusy, with a medicinal kick from the aperol.
Improv points (1–5): 3. The drink is on Graffiato’s cocktail menu, but its name is a perfect fit with our prompt. Moreover, the total lack of sweetness was refreshing in a season awash with candy hearts and such.