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 Price: $14 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 Price: $12 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. Price: $12.50 Improv points (1–5): 2. The combination was suitably classic and distinct, if not entirely unique.