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The Drink: Aloe sojutini
The Location: Mandu, 1805 18th St. NW, (202) 588-1540
The Price: $8
The Buzz: When I was growing up, my mom kept an aloe plant on a windowsill, which I always thought was a rather unimpressive-looking plant. But when she told me the healing power of aloe, it was the plant’s death sentence. I was fascinated. From that point on, I was a hypochondriac, running to break an aloe leaf every time I suffered a scrape or burn, whether real or imagined. It wasn’t long before the succulent leaves were dry and lifeless. That was a long time ago, but when the bartender at Mandu told me that their aloe “sojutini” is good for digestion, I couldn’t help but think that maybe I did have a stomach ache that needed soothed. Mandu, the newish Korean restaurant on 18th Street, offers a variety of sojutinits. The base of the martini is soju, a Korean liquor made from rice that acts like vodka but is a tad sweet. After the bartender shakes and strains the soju into a martini glass, he tops it off with juice, in my case aloe, which even has little bits of pulpy aloe floating in it. The sweetness of the drink is mild and doesn’t build to saccharine overload—-overall, it’s light, refreshing, and easy to sip. So much so, that it’s also easy to drink more than one, which may counter the effects of the aloe. But either way, I feel soothed.