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Bartender: Michael King

Where: Bibiana, 1100 New York Ave. NW

Mystery Ingredient: Warheads sour candy

Bartender Response: King carefully arranged the Warheads on the bar in order by color. Had he tried the candy before? “When I was a kid,” King said. “Whooo!” he said after tasting one; those things are no joke. “That does go away in a few seconds; it’s sweet now,” King said.

What We Got: Yes, King pulled out the spice grinder. “Don’t breathe in,” he said as he ground up two lemon-flavored Warheads. He then brewed a pot of espresso and pulled out the Grappa. “I’m making it Italian,” King said. Mix all those ingredients together, and you get a grappa espresso cocktail with lemon Warhead foam.

How It Tasted: Not as exhilaratingly tart as the Warhead itself, but it was a clear riff on the candy’s sweet-and-sour spirit. The foam mellowed out the tartness, and both the espresso and Warheads are a sort of wake up call for the senses. “The grappa adds some depth to it,” King said. “I think that grappa and coffee go really well together.”

Improv Points (1 to 5): 5. “I took the easy way out by taking the lemon, but the tartness should make an interesting drink,” King said. Warheads never looked this elegant, with neon yellow dust sprinkled over the cocktail’s foam topper. I could imagine sipping this in the afternoon sunshine in some Tuscan cafe—just pretend the lemon Warhead’s taste isn’t totally artificial.

Recipe:

1 1/2 ounce Grappa

1 1/2 ounce espresso

1/4 ounce lemon juice

1/4 ounce simple syrup

1 egg white

2 lemon Warheads

Grind Lemon Warheads into dust into spice grinder. Divide Warhead dust in half, reserving a sprinkle for a garnish. Pour hot espresso into ice. Combine grappa and espresso and half of Warhead dust in a cocktail shaker, shake over ice, and strain into glass. To make the foam, combine lemon juice, simple syrup, Warhead dust, and egg whites and beat egg white into soft peaks. Slide foam on top of cocktail and garnish with Warhead dust.

Photo by Adele Chapin