Where: Poste, 555 8th St. NW
Bartender Response: “Vodka, rum, or tequila?” (We asked for anything but tequila.)
What We Got: Bacardi rum, crème de violette, blue curaçao, and sour mix, garnished with a fuschia orchid
How It Tasted: Colorful drinks can never escape their reputation as sweet and fruity. But here, the sweet, fragrant crème de violette combined nicely with citrusy sour mix for a candy-tasting concoction.
Improv Points (1–5): 4. The purple crème de violette settled easily below the drink’s pastel green body, creating a simple bicolor stratification. The orchid was an elegant accent.
Where: The Passenger, 1021 7th St. NW
Bartender Response: “Anything you don’t want?” (We passed on tequila yet again.)
What We Got: El Dorado white rum, Aperol, blue curaçao, grapefruit juice, and crushed ice, garnished with cherries, a lemon slice, and a pineapple leaf.
How It Tasted: New Orleans met New Brunswick with this Hurricane—which dissolved into a Category 1. Despite the bartender’s best intentions, the pile of crushed ice quickly melted in the barely air-conditioned bar.
Improv Points (1–5): 2. We received a hurricane glass topped with a pineapple leaf spire that nearly violated the Height Act. The bartender called it the “corniest drink”—apt, considering that it, much like a bad joke, flopped. Under construction our beverage looked like a snowcone, but the ingredients combined into a uniform maroon that was hardly colorful.
Where: Graffiato, 707 6th St. NW
Bartender Response: “Is tequila OK?” (We accepted a tequila-based drink this time.)
What We Got: Espolon blanco tequila, Patrón Citronge tequila, lime juice, hibiscus juice, and chocolate bitters served over ice in a glass rimmed with smoked salt
How It Tasted: Smooth and mildly floral, with a welcome salty kick
Improv Points (1–5): 4. The hibiscus lent the liquid a lovely shade of deep pink; the smoked salt was mink-colored. More subtle than outright ridiculous, our drink was nonetheless vibrant. And we liked the perfectly square blocks of ice, which didn’t dilute the booze content or the colorway.