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Where: Sidebar, 8081 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring
Bartender Response: Laughter
What We Got: A “Private Dancer” with berry-infused Plymouth gin, agave syrup, and lemon juice, garnished with a basil leaf
How It Tasted: Our drinking companion described it as “Smarties in a glass.” The drink was fruity and tart, and the large, flat basil leaf added some spice.
Improv Points (1–5): 3. Private dancing may not be an Olympic sport, but this drink was something we could imagine sipping while watching Gabby Douglas on the beam.
Where: Southern Hospitality, 1815 Adams Mill Rd. NW
Bartender Response: “Olympic?”
What We Got: A Manhattan with Rittenhouse Rye and sweet vermouth, garnished with a maraschino cherry and served up
How It Tasted: Maybe it was the men’s beach volleyball tournament broadcasting over Southern Hospitality’s bevy of TV screens—or maybe we just haven’t been served a Manhattan in a while—but this was one well-crafted, if simple, traditional cocktail.
Improv Points (1–5): 1. Even if it tasted great, it was just a Manhattan. Which, we suppose, is as gold medal-worthy for its drink-menu longevity as six-time Olympian Paul Elvstrøm is for his achievements in sailing.
Where: Ripple, 3417 Connecticut Ave. NW
Bartender Response: “Do you want to try the drink we just put on the menu?”
What We Got: Prichard Lincoln County Lightning whiskey, corn juice, peanut soda, Angostura bitters, and local peaches served over ice with a salt-and-pepper rim
How It tasted: We were initially repulsed by a mouthful of salt and pepper, and the liquid’s super-sweet kick had us scrambling for our water glass. But we kept drinking, and we’re glad we did. Thanks to its unusual ingredients and gradual sippability, this was the most original drink we’ve received yet.
Improv Points (1–5): 5. The flaxen shades of the peanut soda and corn juice made this drink, literally, straight-up gold.