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Underserved is a new recurring Y&H feature highlighting the best cocktails you’re not ordering.
What: I Live For That Look with Rittenhouse rye, Solståndet Aquavit, cynar, Cocchi Americano, and salt, $12
Where: Iron Gate, 1734 N St. NW
What You Should Be Drinking
With an ingredient list indecipherable to most English speakers, the I Live For That Look isn’t the most popular item on Iron Gate’s cocktail menu. Beverage director Jeff Faile, who named the drink after a Dinosaur Jr. song, combined dill-flavored Aquavit; cynar, an herbal artichoke-based liqueur; and Cocchi Americano, an Italian aperitif wine, for an herbaceous concoction. Of all the exotic elements, cynar is the wild card. Faile says a bottle of the stuff always sat at the back of the bar when he worked at the now-defunct Palena because it was a favorite of former chef and owner Frank Ruta. “It’ll fool you,” Faile says of the booze, made from the oils of artichoke leaves. “If you taste it on its own, it starts off on the sweeter side. It does a 180 mid-palate.”
Why You Should be Drinking It
Faile knows that the funky ingredients of I Live For That Look don’t have mass appeal, but the cocktail offers a shape-shifting drinking experience. “The cool thing about the drink is that it changes,” says Faile. The catalyst? Salt. “The salt really dissolves into the drink, and next thing you know, you’ve got a little bit of a different-tasting drink.” Faile has experimented with flavors that shift mid-drink, but this was his first attempt to do so with salt, which is occasionally used in alcohol, usually rubbed on a margarita glass. A pinch of it lights up the artichoke liqueur and “really opens the spirit up,” he says. And when a pair of cocktails cost more than your dinner, having one that can taste like two looks like a pretty good deal.
Photo courtesy Iron Gate