Clarity is a cozy fine-dining restaurant tucked away in Vienna with a lively atmosphere, excellent food, and good drinks.
Vienna and I have never quite clicked. One of the richest towns in the country, Vienna is certainly beautiful and choc-full of well-bred folks, but I’ve yet to be invited to the debutante balls or polo matches that I assume are a daily occurrence. I’ve rarely indulged in cocktails there either, so intimidated am I by the hamlet’s aura of gentile manors and extravagant wealth, neither of which I possess.
But ignorance and fear can only rob us of joy, so I decided to venture into Vienna. I’d read some strong reviews for Clarity, a fine-dining restaurant tucked away (and I do mean tucked) in a nondescript Vienna strip mall. The eatery is welcoming and simply adorned, with a convivial energy and a nice outdoor seating area. My favorite aspect of the aesthetic was the open and busy kitchen, which makes for a fun show when you are putting a few drinks down. Bar tenders were friendly and fast.
I started the escapades with “Them Apples” with bourbon, Laird’s apple brandy, fresh apple cider, and salted caramel. Good with a nice bourbon burn up front that transitions into a fairly pronounced apple spice. And that’s pretty much it, a straight-forward thick bourbon and rich apple joint. Then I tried “Christmas Leftover” with tequila, cranberry, orange, Yuzu Agave, and orange bitters. This is a gutsy (I confess, I wrote “ballsy” in my notebook) drink with adventurous combination after combination – the cranberry tequila in particular is a standout. Sadly, I didn’t think the wild mix quite came together, and the cocktail is off-balance, with a bit of an overly citrus burn. Admire the game, not so much the taste on this one.
Up next was the “Tum-er-Ade” with Corlander-infused vodka, coconut water, and fresh turmeric. I was prepared for a sharper spice bit, but this drink came across surprisingly easy, the turmeric sedate but lively at the end. An easy sipper. Then the “Ginger Snap” was up with Myers rum, vanilla vodka, Domaine canton, orgeat, and lime juice. This…was not good. Way too sweet, the rum, vanilla, and orgeat just hit so hard and far too rich. Then you get a mouthful of ginger bits and its just enough with the sweetness already! And this is coming from someone who loves, loves sweet drinks. Swing and a miss.
I finished with “Kentucky Lemonade” with bourbon, limoncello, and maple syrup. Fine, very strong with a limoncello and maple syrup that come across a little too sugary. Most folks who don’t have my sweet tooth will probably blanche at this one, but I thought it was an ok albeit rich cocktail. The finale was “Jessica Rabbit” with organic tequila, Creme de Cassis, lime juice, and ginger beer. This subtle smokey drink was my favorite at Clarity with a light, almost grape taste that does well by aligning its tastes just right. The lime an ginger taste come together so well that the tequila kiss is almost lost. I liked it a lot.