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Where: Bistro Bohem, 600 Florida Ave. NW
Bartender Response: “We have a really strong Czech plum brandy.”
What We Got: A Velvet Revolution made with slivovice (Czech plum brandy), plum juice, and ice
How It Tasted: Sweet like a plum, and reminiscent of a purple lollipop
Improv Points (1–5): 4. Plums? Now there’s an unexpected take on brandy. Brandy is usually distilled from grapes, but can also be distilled from other fruits. Drink this high-proof Czech cocktail too fast and you’ll be stumbling away.
Where: Jack Rose Dining Saloon, 2007 18th St. NW
Bartender Response: “We’ve got a brandy drink on our menu.”
What We Got: Apple brandy, grenadine, and lime juice, served up
How It Tasted: The lime juice and grenadine were appropriate balanced and left room for the fruity, warm notes of the apple brandy.
Improv Points (1–5): 3. This cocktail, known as a “Jack Rose,” is a signature of the bar’s menu. The name is presumably drawn from the traditional Jack Rose cocktail, which contains grenadine, lemon or lime juice, and applejack—rather than the apple brandy we were served. Applejack and apple brandy aren’t the same, but our drink neatly satisfied our request.
Where: Hawk ‘n’ Dove, 329 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
Bartender Response: “I can make a Brandy Alexander, but it will have to be with cognac.”
What We Got: A Brandy Alexander with Hennessy and Kahlúa.
How It Tasted: Sweet and syrupy with an undeniable coffee flavor.
Improv Points (1–5): 2. A proper Brandy Alexander should have chocolatey crème de cacao, not coffee-flavored Kahlúa. We like improvised substitutions, but in this case, we could just as easily sneak a flask into Starbucks.