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Underserved is a recurring Y&H feature highlighting the best cocktails you’re not ordering.
What: Don’t Be Bitter, Baby with Bluecoat Gin, Cynar, and Giffard Apricot Liqueur
Where: Wisdom, 1432 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
What You Should Be Drinking
This three-ingredient cocktail, which shares its name with classic breakup language, aims to be a stepping stone of sorts toward more bitter drinks like the negroni. Wisdom proprietor Erik Holzherr thinks the flavor gets a bad rap amongst the younger crowd. “People who appreciate bitter have a mature palate,” he says. “Maybe I’m stereotyping, but the typical twentysomething will see bitter and avoid it.” It’s hard to blame them. Just look at the word’s synonyms: unpleasant, vicious, harsh, and rancorous. The bitter in Don’t Be Bitter, Baby comes from Cynar, an Italian artichoke liqueur, and there’s nothing rancorous about it. Rather, it provides a necessary backbone to the drink, which also contains Bluecoat Gin and Giffard apricot liqueur from France. “You need bitter to balance a cocktail. Even if you don’t like it, it adds complexity,” Holzherr says. The drink was created by his protégé bartender, Tania Morgan.
Why You Should be Drinking It
Don’t Be Bitter, Baby is the right elixir to start a night of drinking, or finish an evening full of indulgent eating. That’s because Cynar’s bitter flavor leaves behind dryness, making you want to drink more, hence its role as the perfect let’s-get-started order. Equally, Cynar can play the role of a digestif by settling the stomach after a beast of a meal. You’re also ordering it because a gin cocktail is a must when visiting Wisdom. Holzherr’s nickname is “The Gintender,” and he’s carefully curated a selection of about 100 gins. Don’t Be Bitter, Baby doesn’t need anything too fancy, though. That’s why Holzherr taps into Bluecoat, which doubles as the bar’s house gin. It’s smooth enough not to overpower the delicate, fresh flavor of the apricot liqueur.
Photo by Laura Hayes