I noticed the other day that a lot of my reviews of cocktail joints that they’re almost all positive. Now, I chalk my positivity up to good pre-planning — when I pick out a place, I’m doing some research ahead of time. Plus, to someone with my basic and forgiving palette, it’s hard to make a cocktail I won’t see some value in.
Well, that streak ends today my friends. Did a long happy hour(s) at J Gilbert’s in McLean Virginia. I have to be fair, J Gilbert’s is a top-shelf steak house with great food and warm décor, so plenty of reasons to go. Additionally, I don’t expect a place like that to push the limit in terms of cocktails. So, I wasn’t overly surprised that the cocktails I tried were just sort of boring and underwhelming. I went first with a classic, the J Gilbert’s Barrel-Aged Manhattan. This just didn’t work for me, the orange bitters and vermouth combined to make an almost peppery and “off” drink with poor mouth feel. Again, I’m not a huge Manhattan fan, so grain of salt and all of that.
Moving down the list, I went with the Signature Martini. This was just bland — not sure where the gin went, but it failed to pop in this mix. The olives stuffed with blue cheese are pretty sweet though.
Then I went with the basil smash, with bourbon, fresh squeezed lemon, pure cane syrup, basil and lemon zest. This was actually very disappointing as I’m a fan of this general flavor combo. The ingredients clashed hard, prompting a gross-ish mix in the mouth. Bleh. The lemon just overwhelmed the basil which, let me tell you, is not a good scene.
I was getting a little desperate for safe harbor so I went with an easy one – the pineapple martini, with Stoli vodka infused with fresh pineapple, Triple sec and pineapple. This was simple and actually very good. I respect a good pineapple martini because it’s hard to pull off — I’ve always had problems getting pineapple juice to really gel in a cocktail, it often comes off watery. But this worked perfectly and was the highlight of the evening.
I also had a lemon-drop martini (not pictured) It was fine, the sugared rim was a nice touch. At the end of the day it was a fun day of pre-holiday drinking regardless of the mediocre cocktails, so no biggie 🙂 Next time I’ll just stick to the fish and beer.