Underserved is a recurring Y&H feature highlighting the best cocktails you’re not ordering.
What: Feel Better and Get Well with Rhum Barbancourt, Powers Irish whiskey, falernum, and lime bitters
Where: PX, 728 King St., Alexandria, Va.
What You Should Be Drinking Todd Thrasher, owner and bartender at PX, has been naming cocktails after his favorite tunes since he entered the industry 20 years ago, and the Feel Better and Get Well is no different. The name of the booze-forward drink is a lyric from “Here I Am” off SOJA’s Born in Babylon. The Grammy-nominated Arlington reggae band frequented Bar TNT, Thrasher’s now-closed cocktail bar.
“The lead singer, Jacob [Hemphill], liked to drink Irish whiskey, and I drink rum,” Thrasher says. That’s why Rhum Barbancourt and Powers Irish whiskey are the lead players in the cocktail. This unlikely combination of spirits, however, may conjure up the ghost of firewaters past, causing patrons to skip it. But they shouldn’t.
Why You Should be Drinking It Thrasher’s house-made falernum syrup brings more character than Bob Odenkirk in Better Call Saul. The brown, murky Caribbean potion of rum infused with lime peels, star anise, almond slivers, almond extract, and brown sugar is aromatic and creates a warming sensation on the way down. Thrasher first lets the mixture sit in the sun to accelerate flavor development then ages it in a barrel for a month. The lime bitters he makes for the drink are equally labor intensive.
After just a few sips, you may feel a twinge of a buzz, because as Thrasher reminds me, “there are no mixers. It’s just booze, booze, booze.” If you like what you’ve sipped, there’s good news. Despite the Feel Better and Get Well’s stymied popularity, booze-forward cocktails are on the rise. “More people are open to them now because of the quality of ingredients that are out there compared to 12 or 13 years ago when there wasn’t a lot,” he says. “The whole craft distillery movement has exploded over the past 10 years.” The golden-hued, velvety elixir is one you’ll remember.
Photo by Laura Hayes