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Underserved is a recurring Y&H feature highlighting the best cocktails you’re not ordering.
What: Diablito with tequila, gin, pear, wasabi, and pickled jalapeños
Where: The Twisted Horn, 819 Upshur St. NW
What You Should Be Drinking
The first step in crafting this little devil of a drink is securing fresh wasabi from Hana Japanese Market on U Street NW. Bar Manager Burke Podany steeps the whole root in a blend of gin and tequila. The finished product—which also contains pear syrup enhanced with cardamom, grapefruit bitters, and a three-pepper tincture—isn’t Wicked Witch of the West green because the natural wasabi isn’t dyed. Despite the fiery components, the Diablito brings only gentle heat. “It’s meant to be early spring spice,” says Podany. “This is a transitionally seasonal cocktail, which is the most pretentious thing I’ve said all week, but it is.” The Bartlett pear syrup reaches back to winter, while everything else about the drink is fresh and earthy for spring.
Why You Should Be Drinking It
There are two pairings of ingredients that seem to go together like oil and water: gin with tequila and pear with wasabi. If your mind can hurdle these misalliances, your palate will be rewarded. The drink started with tequila as the single lead spirit, but Podany felt something was missing, so he added gin. The result is a luscious sip full of juniper notes. Neither the pear nor the wasabi is overpowering enough to cause an unwelcome collision of flavors. For those who want the drink to be spicier, Podany recommends plunking one or both slices of the pickled jalapeño that adorn the drink straight to the bottom and muddling it a bit.
Photo by Laura Hayes