If you want an adult beverage from a mixologist with an impressive pedigree, who painstakingly prepares cocktails using homemade
bitters and artful ringlets of lemon peel, you know where to go — PS 7’s, Proof and the Gibson, along with an ever-expanding list of local bars. But what if you crave a classless, guilty pleasure of a drink? Something embarrassing to order but sweet to sip?
The Bottom Shelf series is for those of you — er, us — mourning the loss of Four Loko, while keeping (y)our grip firmly on the neck of that Boone’s Farm bottle. I’m scouring the city for the kinds of drinks that would appeal to the rebellious Lynchburg Lemonade-swilling teenager in all of us.
First stop? Curiously enough, Dodge City. Yes, the U Street destination is a haven of respectable beverages, especially when it comes to its beer selection. But the bar also happens to offer gummy-flavored vodka (not to mention the whipped cream variety, but that will have to wait for another visit), which seemed like a satisfying treat so soon after Halloween. Side note: If you order this drink, strangers sitting at the bar might openly ridicule you.
While I’d heard the only logical way to drink such a beverage was in shot form, I opted to mix it with club soda, thinking all the fizz might cut through the inevitable saccharine ambush. And it worked — initially. The first few sips had me floating down a corn syrup river alongside a school of Swedish Fish; it even had an authentically waxy finish. But the novelty soon gave way to a flavor that can only be described as Twizzler Kool-Aid with notes of citrus. I left my drink half-finished, instead stealing sips of my intrepid drinking companion’s beer, which in keeping with the theme tasted chocolatey.
Hindsight is 20/20; I asked the bartender after ordering what a good mixer would have been. His first response was, “Nothing,” as if you’d have to be some kind of masochist to drink this stuff. But after some more careful deliberation, he recommended something tart like a squeeze of lemon or grapefruit juice.
If I didn’t have so many other unsophisticated beverages to sample, I might give it a shot. Or two.