When I read via the Washington Post that Petworth Citizen was running a series of literary-themed cocktail events including a Sherlock Holmes night, I felt duty bound to attend given my alcohol-fueled march through the classic detective stories. If there is a heaven, and if it’s architected according to our truest desires, mine would resemble the Reading Room bar at the back of the Citizen. A comfy out-cove lined with books and replete with a bar – yes, this is what Elysium is made of. Handed the special menu by the superb bar staff, I eagerly went to work!
I started in methodical fashion with one of my favorite Sherlock stories “A Scandal in Bohemia” (which I wrote about here) with Armagnac VSOP, absinthe, cane syrup, Peychaud’s bitters, thyme, and lemon peal. This was good with an almost rye-ish taste accentuated powerfully by the thyme and cane sugar. It was a bit syrupy in the middle of the swallow which I usually don’t like but it was appropriately balanced here, I think. Nice. Next up was the “Five Orange Pips” (which I wrote about here) with gin, gran classico bitters, vermouth, ginger, orange peel, and dried citrus. This was very good with an enjoyable peppery orange taste that hits throughout. It also has a slight and measured bitterness that I liked.
Next was “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” with cider, Founder’s Breakfast Stout, Laird’s Apple Brandy, and lemon peel. This was my favorite of the night, very easy with a good apple-ish take and a sourish taste off of the beer and cider. A lemon pop from the citrus peel was perfect. This is a superb drink that I definitely plan to make at home, a good long sipper perfect for a fall Sunday watching football. Moving on, we went to “The Adventure of the Dancing Men” with rye, amontillado, grapefruit, honey, and rosemary. This was just ok, I thought the honey came across a little too strong in the front. Just a little too sugary and sweet for my taste. I did like the long aftertaste though, as the honey and rye is a taste that lingers.
The finale was the “The Boscombe Valley Mystery” (which I wrote about here) with scotch, green chartreuse, lemon, and Mariage Freres “The Des Impressionnistes,” which I learned is a French tea. This was good, I liked the strength of the scotch taste which collaborated well with the other ingredients for a relaxed citrus finish. A good way to end an awesome evening of bookish cocktails!
This installment’s story is the “The Man with the Crooked Lip” which opens darkly as Watson is forced to navigate the slums of London in search of an acquaintance addicted to opium. I found this scene very compelling and curiously modern, as Doyle’s description of urban crime and drug addiction would ring true to any contemporary reader ff the Metro section. The modern tropes continue as Holmes goes deep undercover in the pursuit of a possible murderer, affecting the role of a strung out Londoner. I’m currently reading a history of the spiritual movement in America in which Doyle features prominently, so a line in which the logic-fetishist Holmes admits to the power of intuition–particularly the female variant–caught my eye. Finally, the story uses the pastiche of the professional beggar whose trade is more lucrative than a real job, a cliche we see even in today’s newspapers. A good story with a unique and gritty intro.