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The Drink: Maldito Amor
The Location: Chi-Cha Lounge, 1624 U St. NW, (202) 234-8400
The Price: $10
The Buzz: While savory cocktails are becoming all the rage, and I won’t get out of bed on a Sunday unless there’s promise of a good Bloody Mary in my near future, I don’t find myself ordering them on a regular basis-——which is something I want to change. At Chi-Cha, the Latin American lounge on U Street, I find a cocktail that acts as a nice introduction to the savory side. The Maldito Amor’s base is gold tequila infused with ginger, which is mixed with passion fruit puree and garnished with a floating slice of Serrano pepper. The first sip is a shock because of all the strong flavors competing against one another, which is ultimately the beauty of this “damn love.” It starts out sweet, but the lingering taste is spicy, with a distinct ginger burn. But then comes the Serrano. I stare at it for some minutes, sitting in the bottom of the empty martini glass, trying to get up the courage to eat it. I finally decide to test it out on my drinking companion, who has a much higher tolerance for spicy food than I do. He eats half of it and his eyes widen, but he nods that it’s OK and warns me to avoid the white part. I bite off a quarter of it and immediately start shoveling queso arepa into my mouth, trying to extinguish the fire with cheese. While some may be able to handle the pepper, it’s not how I want to finish a cocktail. But at least the drink’s name now makes sense. Some things start out sweet and end with teary eyes and regret.