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Location: Columbia Room, 1021 7th St. NW
Bartender response: “Interesting…do you have a spirit preference?”
What we got: An “old-fashioned” dry martini made with Plymouth gin, dry vermouth, orange bitters, and lemon oil
How it tasted: Mild, with bitter citrus notes
Improv points (1–5): 3. He switched up the type of spirit, but not the spirit of the request.
Location: Bar Pilar, 1833 14th St. NW
Bartender response: “It sounds like you like bourbon?”
What we got: A Manhattan served up—“the best in the city, not even kidding,” he says—made with Bulleit rye
How it tasted: Sweetness at first sip, turning to a nicely dry tang
Improv points (1–5): 1. This was quite close to an Old Fashioned, but with
vermouth and in a different glass.
Location: The Gibson, 2009 14th St. NW
Bartender response: “Nice. Do you want bourbon or rye?”
What we got: A Monte Carlo served up with Old Overholt rye, Bénédictine, and a lemon peel
How it tasted: Warm, spicy, and eminently drinkable; the Overholt’s harsh edge was blunted nicely by the Bénédictine’s herbal qualities.
Improv points (1–5): 2. The combination was suitably classic and distinct, if not entirely unique.