Lending some more class and power to Bloomingdale, Truxton Inn is a great spot to socialize and skim through some classic cocktails and paperbacks.
As a fan of McLellan’s Retreat in Dupont, I was excited to hear that the folks behind that darkened haunt were starting a new spot in the up-and-the already came neighborhood of Bloomingdale. Bloom’s (that’s my personal nickname for the area, feel free to use it if you’d like) is already home to a a few nice places including The Royal and Anxo across the street, but I think Truxton offers something different and welcome – a relaxed and scenic atmosphere energized with aggressive and striking drinks.
The interior of Truxton is eye-catching, with luxurious furnishings, roomy and elegant sitting areas, and velvety lighting that recalls an early 20th century jazz bar. It’s aesthetic necessitates a visit even if you’re not into cocktails. Shelves stocked with hundreds of out of print paper backs lent a nice touch, particularly for this bibliophile. Service at the bar and in the chairs was excellent (quite the feat given the crowds I witnessed!)
If I could sum up Truxton’s cocktail list in one word, I’d use POWER. Of the seven drinks we sampled at Truxton, I found three standouts and no throwaways – every drink had some real energy and an aura about them, distinct and up front. Not all of them clicked for me, but kudos for Truxton for pushing the spirits to the forefront of their cocktails. In summary, this is a true cocktail bar that takes chances and might push their customers more than they’re used to.
First up was my favorite drink at Truxton, the “Crossroads” with with El Dorado 8yr rum, Basil Hayden, Cocchi vermouth di Torino, Benedictine, and tiki bitters. Even with the simmering verve of all its constituent parts, this drink comes across well-measured, with the rum and benedictine (which I usually shy away from) buttressing a lovely and complex flavor. Definitely give this a whirl. The next, cocktail, the “JFK on Vacay” was attractive, with its Maui pineapple rum, rhum agricole, passionfruit, lime, and house made simple syrup striking a lovely pose. However, the taste wasn’t entirely to my liking: I thought the pineapple and passionfruit come across as a bit thin and acidic, lending this strong stink to the drink that I found somewhat harsh. Not a bad drink, but the levels seemed off.
Next up was the standout “Short Commute” with Rittenhouse rye, Boomsma cloosterbitter, angostura amaro, and Fee Brothers Aztec chocolate bitters. I thought this drunk was just stellar – deeply resonant with that cocoa kick, I loved how the ingredients played with each other so well, never overwhelming. I have a light palette so my lips were a bit pursed thinking of a rye/chocolate combo, but the spirit-forward kinetics were lashed up and made for a pleasurable experience. I then gave one of Truxton’s featured “Suggestions” a try and grabbed myself a standout “Daiquiri” with El Dorado 3 year, simple syrup, and lime. This was a very solid variation on the theme, with a sugary rum lilt that connects first and leaves a nice, tropical citrus sensation on the end of your tongue as you finish the drink. A perfect first drink after working the Bloomingdale pavement on a humid DC weekend.
Then I moved onto the “Truxton Inn Manhattan” with Truxton inn Whistle Pig select, Antica Carpano, Benedictine, and Angostura Bitters. Again, I sound like a broken record, but this was power wielded responsibly, with the resonance of ingredients like strong rye and benedictine coming together in a chipper, unassuming taste profile. Oh, trust me, there is real power here, but it didn’t overwhelm even my delicate taste buds. Nice and deep with the heavy rye making this was one a contemplative, slow sipper. Next up was the “Congressman’s Lunch” with gin (you can choose vodka, but why), Fino sherry, Cocchi Americano, Gordy’s pickle brine, and lemon bitters. This one had me at its very gin-y, juniper-forward opening act, which then changes into something verrrrrry interesting, a clash of brine and resilient cocchi power. Not quite my cup of tea all the way through, but definitely something unique and worth trying.
The Truxton finale was the “No Se Groni” with mezcal, Peychaud’s aperitivo, and punt e mes. Yeah so I lied, not everything at Truxton is “measured” – this is pure and unabashed spirit power, with the fired mescal peet burning through the bitter, herbal energy of its enablers. This was something else and will put hair on your chest. Drink it slow and last – trust me, it makes for a great final act and a testament to Truxton’s celebration of spirits. With mezcal on my tongue I left Truxton Inn, determined to make a return trip at my earlier convenience. Definitely recommend giving this new neighborhood spot a try!