Beauty in Subtlety – The Twisted Horn

Twisted Horn is a quaint neighborhood spot with a happily sedate vibe and sweet drinks.

Ambiance: ****

Decor: ****

Service: ****

Cocktails: ****

Overall Rating: 4

“But stay, adventurous muse! Hast though the force to wind the twisted horn, to guide the horse? To keep the seat unmov’d, hast though the skill, o’er the high gate, and down the headlong hill?”

More and more I’m relying on good word of mouth to guide my bar hopping campaigns. So when three separate acquaintances who know their drink recommended the newly-opened Twisted Horn, I knew I had to run over there, posthaste. Tucked away in my new favorite neighborhood of Petworth, the Horn’s muted storefront is easy to miss, but the bar’s sleek and dark interior is striking. Lit by chained orbs and decorated with angelic artworks and subtle, natural adornments, I loved the bar’s cozy and sophisticated vibe. The service was super friendly and quick, with helpful and courteous bartenders answering my questions about ingredients.

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Regarding the drinks, the Horn offers a great six drink cocktail list, of which four were standouts. The menu is creatively arrayed in a hand-drawn maze, which is good motivation for those of us who like to finish any journey. I entered the maze with the “Mezcal Negroni,” which is a negroni with mezcal. This was good, with the mezcal igniting upon first sip but giving way to the bitterness of the negroni, which is subtle here. A powerful and balanced take on an old classic, this was interesting. Moving on, I had the “4th and B’way” with Jamaican rums, amaro, and vermouth. The first of the four standouts, this was an awesome, awesome rum drink. The flavor celebrates the sweetness of the rum blend in a special and truly unique way, while the vermouth and amaro grant it this savory, almost nutty after taste. Magnificent!

We proceeded with the “Ghostwood Development” with Jensen Old Tom Gin, sapins (a really interesting herbal, botanical liqueur from France), port, Salmiakki Dala (a Scandinavian bitter), and an egg. This drink offers a very unusual, distinct taste with very understated gin and strong overtones of the egg and spices. Almost Indian in its flavor, the Ghostwood comes across mellow, full-bodied, and with a wonderful pine flavor from the sapins. Intriguing and good. Then we jumped to a standout, the pompously named “Ideal Cocktail” made of gin, vermouths, and grapefruit juice. Although arrogant, the Ideal lives up to its name, with a powerful gin-forward taste framed perfectly by the grapefruit. Ultra-clean and easy, the Ideal is a great experience, ably mixing the superb vermouth flavor with citrus and gin. Really loved it!

Jumping off to another standout, the “Saboteur Sling” a Singapore sling with ramp (a gourmet spice) and jalapeno-infused gin. I’ve been on a bit of a spicy drink kick lately, which will only be encouraged by this hot masterpiece. The burn is perfectly measured, leashed, and finite. Very strong, the spice comes in consistently and provides a lasting and rich aftertaste with lots of citrus undertones. Perfect. I escaped the maze with the “Transmetropolitan” with vodka, Aqua di Cedro (a lemon-based liqueur), pomegranate liqueur, and lime. This ultra delicious drink was the favorite of the night for me; again, uber-smooth burn off of the vodka enriched by the collaborative sweetness from the citrus and fruit liqueurs. You’d think, from reading the ingredients, that this would come off as a tropical drink without character, but no on, the Transmetropolitan is a drink to remember. A perfect way to end the maze and a wonderful night at one of my new favorite bars in DC!

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