Washington D.C. doesn’t have a heavy metal cocktail bar, but if it did, I’d imagine it would be something like American Ice Company’s monthly Spirits in Black happy hour. Every month, American Ice bartenders Patrick Owens and Ashley May invite a guest bartender to help them write a menu of metal-inspired original cocktails — tonight’s star is Paul Michel, a musician and drink-slinger at the Tabard Inn — while a DJ spins a blistering playlist heavy on Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Sepultura or Metallica.
Some twists on classic cocktails take their names from bands (Napalm Death in the Afternoon, with a smoky house-made scorched absinthe) while other originals were inspired by songs. The Thing That Should Not Be, which takes its name from the Metallica tune, looked like a tropical concoction when you read the list of ingredients on the menu — aged rum, plum, lemon juice and sweet Velvet Falernum — but Owens added squid ink for a briny, savory taste and an unusual jet-black color.
The music and the theme are fun — as is seeing how many names of cocktails you “get” — but the excellence of the cocktails is what takes the night over the top.