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Westend Bistro 1190 22nd Street NW
A reduced gastrique syrup featuring caramelized sugar Fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice Dash of vinegar Coriander Ginger Christiana vodka …and a bit of pepper on top
Brian’s take: Do you remember what it was like to be a kid trying to sleep on the night before a big vacation? The welling anticipation? The jetsetting jitters? The intoxicating insomnia? If you can’t remember, go to the WestEnd Bistro and try the “Sargent Pepper’s Tango” (and no, that is not a spelling error—it’s what literary folks call a “double entendre,” a playful riff on the John Singer Sargent pieces at the Corcoran). This artini presents a vivid contrast: the luxury of fresh grapefruit juice and the excitement of spicy pepper, kind of like a relaxing vacation on the beach with a few roller coasters nearby. All right, all right, you’ve probably noticed that I’m running out of interesting ways to describe and review artinis (hence the whole vacation theme). Listen to me: “Sargent Pepper’s Tango” is good. Good good good good good. Go try it. Meanwhile, I’m going to fall asleep while reading Roget’s thesaurus.
On a scale of 1 to 5 olive branches: 5
Ted’s take: Though I struggle to find a causal link between the patriotic portraiture of Jonathan Singer Sargent and the exotic fruit bouquet of Sargent Pepper’s Tango, I must admit that both leave me with an indeterminate warm, fuzzy feeling in my belly and a desire to do right by my country. The SPT (as those in the know acronymically dub it) triangulates itself rather elegantly between the sweet, the spicy, and the tart—the healthy dose of tangy citrus cuts the wicked infusion of sweet fruits Jeremy has alchemized so expertly. The drink’s coup de grâce, however, is the black pepper garnish, which holds sway over the subordinate flavors like an admiral over his fleet…
…which is not to say that such discerning connisseurs of artisanal martinis as we don’t have our quibbles. For my part, I would have appreciated a bit more stiffness in the alcohol quotient… as for the rest, I didn’t hear a note of psychedelic Beatles during my entire sojourn at the Westend Bistro. And, while we’re at it, ‘Westend’ seems an unfortunate amalgamation; though there seems to be a widespread perception that typographical liberties spell trendiness, and one musn’t expect Eric Ripert to buck the trend.
On a scale of 1 to 5 olive branches: 4.25