Diamonds in the Rough: the We Ball Harder Guide to Adams Morgan
Adams Where? The Weekly 18th Street shitshow? What does WBH have to do with that? Well, your author lived for two years on Calvert Street, just past the insufferable weekend crush of shwasty-faced hoodrats, gang-bangers, interns, fake IDers, and drunk-ass bros, and despite having a sweet apartment, was not thrilled with said swarm of ragers providing a ruinous end for an otherwise nice night out in a different part of DC. So why the hell am I writing this? Because nearly three years later, new delights have opened, old stalwarts have remained, and I’ve discovered under-the-radar gems that I overlooked in my previous desire to avoid 18th & Columbia and environs at all costs.
DISCLAIMER: 18th Street is still chock-a-block with absolute SHIT bars – and I’m gonna name them: Grand Central, Tom Tom, Town Tavern, Columbia Junction or whatever it’s called, Shenanigans, and many others. Avoid. It also still home to most dubious pizza by the slice ever – Jumbo Slice and its derivatives. No level of drunkenness makes this a good idea. Also avoid.
So with that out of the way, let’s get on with it, starting from the top of the hill to the bottom.
Pouring Ribbons, Cocktail Alchemy
New York’s a city with no shortage of mixology bars, cocktail bars, or so-called speakeasies (shudder). I previously said that Little Branch is the best bar I’ve ever been to, but Pouring Ribbons, a new joint in Alphabet City not even open yet for two weeks, has stepped up to offer worthy competition. While sipping a brilliantly mixed original drink, my friendly bartender mentioned it was only their eighth night open. It’s clear that they’re off to a running start.
Alcoholic Liquid Nitrogen – The Real Daiquiri
(A continuation from yesterday’s post on the mojito)
If the mojito is liquid air conditioning on a hot day, the daiquiri is like drinking boozy liquid nitrogen, a short, sharp, shock of ultimate cold to the mojito’s enveloping effervescent coolness. Additionally, the daiquiri is a more elegant, refined drink, whereas the mojito is a bit more rustic and working class, but they’re connected regardless. Both were invented in Cuba, and both were perfected at bars that Ernest “And a Bottle of Rum” Hemingway, who drank lots of both, frequented. Before we begin, let me tell you what a daiquiri is NOT:
Liquid A/C: The Mojito that Hemingway Loved
If you’ve been anywhere near the east coast of the US in the last few days, you know it’s hot. Viciously hot. July hot. Fucking hot. In such dire conditions, nothing calms, soothes, and cools the soul better than a mojito – the tartness of the lime, the mintiness…of the mint, the light spritz of the soda, and of course, the lovely kick of rum allowing you to sink into a chair and forget all about the muggy misery outside. The history, etc, of the drink has been beaten to death online, so I’ll spare you. Suffice it to say this wartime imbibement shot back to popularity in the last several years, and if you’re reading this blog, you’ve for sure heard of it. A few more thoughts on this classic, and how to make the best one after the jump.
Cocktail Perfection: Little Branch in NYC
What dreams are made of.
Ladies and gentlemen, the single best bar I have ever been to, and the standard against which all further mixology is to be judged: Little Branch in the West Village in Manhattan.
A Tale of Two Bars
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
for good booze flowed, but we had to face some lines.”*
For the last two-ish years, DC has been torn between two drink dens specializing in superlatively mixed craft cocktails. They both turn out drinks unseen elsewhere in the city, if not the world, and they both have their fair share of devotees. But the two could not be more different. One is overly exclusive, in-your-face-with-upper-class-hipster-arrogance†, shrouded in too-low light, and with a door policy rarely seen outside Moscow nightclubs. The other is welcoming, catering to and attracting all types – and the light is better.
They are the Gibson and the Passenger, and I favor the latter. Here’s why:
El Centro DF – Mexican Excellence on 14th St
Note: The first installment in We Ball Harder’s recommendations of commercial establishments. Unless otherwise specified, anywhere mentioned on WBH comes highly recommended, because why would we waste your time with mediocre places?
Quick: who has the best rooftop in DC, the best late night food, awesome drinks, and sweet music all in one venue?
The answer: El Centro DF, Richard Sandoval’s (Zengo, Masa 14, La Sandia) newest venue, located right next to Black Cat. You walk in on the ground floor to what looks at first like a spruced-up Chipotle, with a bare concrete floor, wooden bar tables, stools, and other wooden accents, a counter for salsa, and indeed a a menu hanging down from the ceiling over the cashier advertising tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and the like. In the very back are stairs going downstairs, leading to the basement restaurant and tequileria, where they serve more formal sit-down food and a staggering array of agave and maguey distillates. More on that below.