Some Ho-Hum Cocktails

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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