Classy/cool vibe in Clarendon, Circa is a great spot for a post-brunch cocktail or two.
Overall Rating: 3.75
I’ve become such a geographically-focused bore! I can’t help it though, nothing relaxes me like a nice summer stroll over to Clarendon, the land of so many bars, flip flops, and cocktails. I’ll break out of the routine at some point and offer some reviews from other neighborhoods, but right now I’m fixated on the bro zone between Wilson and Clarendon Blvds. For this excursion I picked Circa, which is a nice looking establishment with a busy but not overcrowded Sunday brunch crowd. The bar is big and spacious, a welcoming environment to an unofficial cocktail review extraordinaire like myself. The service was also superb, prompt but never overbearing. So, on to the important part, the drinks!
So, I started off IMPOSSIBLY strong with this, the “Woke up Like This,” which brings Jameson, cinnamon syrup, apple, and honey. This was a revelation folks — along with the Rustic Martini at Copperwood Tavern (review pending) this drink was one of the best I’ve had in recent months. A perfect balance between the cut of the whiskey and the softer flavors of apple and cinnamon, this was a comfortable masterpiece with a perfect mouth feel and heavenly lift at the end. I really loved it — it singlehandedly makes a trip to Circa worthwhile!
Alright, so hard to follow up on that masterpiece, but the falloff wasn’t that steep with the “Best of Both Worlds,” which has four roses bourbon, white ale, maple, lemon, aromatic bitters. That is a fascinating mash up that I got very excited about — it certainly wasn’t a total disappointment with a big, lasting, interesting sort of flavor, although it wasn’t a home run like I was hoping (I’m just getting more into beer cocktails, so I have ultra-high expectations). It is a brave and busy drink that didn’t blow me away, but impressed me with its complexity and encrypted taste.
The “Foggy Bottom” reminds me of its namesake: safe, welcoming, and nice on a summer day. This drink features vodka, rosemary, lemon, and cucumber, with which you really can’t go wrong. A wonderful drink for the outdoors, I felt compelled to pick it up and stroll around sunny Clarendon, although local liquor laws held me back. Perfect for a brunch with your girlfriend’s family, business partners, or alone with a nice book.
Alright so every great journey has a few bumps. At Circa this was the “Bees Knees“. I was very excited about this one, made up of Commonwealth Gin (love), orange bitters (love), lemon (love) and honey (love), I thought this one would challenge the “Woke up like this” for Circa supremacy. But it just didn’t work. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but this one just didn’t come together, maybe the orange bitters? This just had poor mouth feel and left me empty.
The happy day was getting on so I decided to wrap it up with a “District Tea Party” which has chamomile-infused gin, cocchi Americano, gran gala, honey syrup, lemon, and Boston “Bittahs,” the spelling of which made me smirk. This was a nice relaxing sipper, flowing softly along ones tongue and reminding you of relaxing, boozy times. A great drink for the beginning or end of every meal, I very much enjoyed it.
There you have it, another fun time in Clarendon! I must say, I’m surprised time and time again to see restaurants like Circa which, stereotypically, you might expect to play it safe when it comes to cocktails, take some chances and really bring some winners. It’s a good relaxing spot with some truly rewarding drinks.