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Location: Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, 1612 14th St. NW
Bartender response: “Do you like bourbon?”
What we got: A Bardstown Derby, with Buffalo Trace bourbon, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, and orange blossom honey
How it tasted: Light and delicious, with a fantastic nose and a complex sweetness that we credit to the grapefruit juice and the honey.
Improv points (1-5): 2. Yummy, yes. Boozy? Not so much.
Location: Estadio, 1520 14th St. NW
Bartender response: “Do you mind a little vodka?”
What we got: A Vesper martini, with Plymouth Gin, vodka, and Cocchi Americano
How it tasted: If you like brighter, sweeter gin that’s not heavy on the juniper—and we do—this is your drink.
Improv points (1-5): 1. We’re pretty sure that spy novelist Ian Flemming concocted this recipe (or a version of it) back in the 1950s—and smacking of alcohol was the whole point. James Bond wanted a really boozy first sip. We didn’t.
Location: Fruit Bat, 1236 H St. NE
Bartender response: “What’s your booze of choice?”
What we got: A Pig Latin, with vegan-friendly bacon liqueur, chocolate liqueur, house-made vermouth, and rye shaken over ice with a lime
How it tasted: Smooth and smoky. This was no cream-based drink, but it was thick and rich. The bacon and chocolate notes completely overwhelmed the rye, leaving a pleasant aftertaste that, thanks to the lime, was also nicely tart. When we stood up, we felt the booze we hadn’t been tasting.
Improv points (1-5): 3. Bacon and chocolate isn’t a weird combo on the plate, but it’s not something we typically see in our glass. Though the drink appears on Fruit Bat’s menu, it’s different enough (in that it tastes more like a sandwich than a beverage) to merit accolades.