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Bartender: Micah Wilder
Where: Chaplin’s Restaurant & Bar, 1501 9th St. NW
Mystery Ingredient: Fish sauce
Bartender Response: “I wouldn’t say that I lucked out,” Wilder said, as he contemplated the bottle of fish sauce warily. “The flavor is really strong.” He asked around to see if his fellow bartenders wanted to try a swig of fish sauce. No takers.
What We Got: A cocktail with mezcal, Luxardo, fresh lime, fresh watermelon, and pineapples pickled with chilies. Wilder started with a quarter ounce of fish sauce but went up to half an ounce. “You’re not getting enough of the fish sauce,” he said, bravely pouring in more.
How It Tasted: Fishy! The salty umami flavor hit immediately. But after a few sips, the pickled pineapples came through, bringing out the cocktail’s tropical flavors. “The mezcal kind of dresses up the fishy finish. Luxardo orange liqueur brightens it and pops the pineapple,” Wilder said.
Improv Points (1 to 5): 4. Props to Wilder for doubling down on fish sauce. The brilliant orange cocktail was also a looker, with volcanic black salt studding the glass’s rim.
4 to 5 square-inch chunks fresh watermelon
3 chunks pickled pineapple (pickled with chilies)
1/2 ounce fish sauce
1 1/2 ounce Montelobos Mezcal Joven
1/2 ounce Luxardo
1/2 ounce fresh lime
Combine watermelon and pineapple in a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add fish sauce, mezcal, Luxardo, and lime, then shake with ice. Strain into glass over fresh ice.
Photo by Adele Chapin