The Drink: Super Leaded Iced Coffee

The Location: Circa at Dupont, 1601 Connecticut Ave. NW, (202) 667-1601

The Price: $9

The Buzz: At the beginning of a night out, it’s always nice to start with a bit of caffeine. Yes, there’s the tried-and-true Red Bull and vodka, but I can’t order that drink at a bar without feeling like an ass. But there are other options, the most obvious being coffee. The other evening, I stopped by the new Circa in Dupont and found a selection of coffee cocktails. The Super Leaded Iced Coffee looked perfect: It’s cold (it was hot out); it’s coffee (I was worn out from a long day); it’s Bailey’s (I always drink cream in my coffee); and it’s tequila (Um, did I mention it was a long day?). Quite simply, the drink’s a knockout. It’s creamy and delicious but without the sweetness that is rampant in coffee cocktails. The reason? It’s all in the tequila. Circa uses the relatively new Patron XO Café. For research purposes, I sipped some of it neat, and I was instantly a fan. Tequila lovers may not like it; it lacks the smoke and bite of normal tequila, and it’s shockingly smooth. But coffee lovers will cheat on Kahlûa for it. I’m so impressed with the creation that I try more cocktails, including one of Circa’s gems, the Berry Smash: muddled mixed berries, Stoli Vanil, and turbinado syrup.

It’s light and refreshing, and the overpowering flavor is of fresh raspberries—-perfect on a summer evening. The key factor is the turbinado syrup. Instead of using your everyday simple syrup, made from refined sugar, this stuff is made from unprocessed sugar cane, which helps prevent the candy-sweet effect. The only downside to coffee cocktails is that second wind it gives you can make a quick afterwork drink turn into hours on a barstool—-but I guess that’s really not a downside.