Location: Room 11, 3234 11th St. NW
Bartender Response: “What if I made you what I’d like to drink on my birthday?”
What We Got: The 4th Regiment with Redemption rye, Dolin Rouge sweet vermouth, Peychaud’s bitters, Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6, and Scrappy’s celery bitters with a lemon peel
How It Tasted: Sweet, savory, zesty, and spicy. It felt masculine—as our friend said, “It reminds me of tobacco and beards.”
Improv Points (1–5): 4. We appreciate that our bartender asked for our preferred base liquor and flavors, and nailed the result. For whiskey-loving history nerds, this Prohibition-era variation of the Manhattan was a perfect birthday present.
Where: The Pig, 1320 14th St. NW
Bartender Response: “Whiskey, or vodka, or gin?”
What We Got: The Wilbur with whiskey, pineapple-rosemary syrup, and a rosemary garnish served over ice
How It Tasted: On the first sip, this concoction from The Pig’s drink menu was repulsive: The syrup clashed mightily with the whiskey. But its aftertaste was smooth, sweet, and even a bit evocative of birthday cake.
Improv Points (1–5): 3. Though we enjoyed our bartender’s creation based on our request for whiskey—and hadn’t seen pineapple paired with rosemary until now—The Wilbur does appear on The Pig’s drink menu (along with other cocktails named for famous squealers).
Where: Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, 1612 14th St. NW
Bartender Response: “Happy birthday.”
What We Got: A Fleur 75 with Cold River gin, lemon juice, crème de violet, sparkling wine, and a thyme garnish served up
How It Tasted: Better than the average French 75—sort of like how a birthday’s often better than the average day.
Improv Points (1–5): 3. The drink is on Pearl Dive’s menu, and it’s only a slight variation of the classic cocktail from which it cribs its name. But we liked the subtle taste, and the sprig of thyme was a fun finish.