Tryst Goes Speakeasy on Us

New cocktail menu focuses on complicated (and delicious) classics

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Quintessential D.C. coffeehouse/bar Tryst (2459 18th St. N.W.) debuted its new cocktail menu last night. Mixologists J.P. Caceres and David Fritsler poured out the good stuff, reminiscent of speakeasy-style classics. Everything we tried was fantastic -- multiple flavors complemented each other, sweet and sour without being too much of either.

    Our faves? First off, the Ward One (fresh strawberries, lemon juice and basil, embellished with a balsamic reduction) was delicate but just strong each that the guys weren't ashamed to be quaffing such a pink drink, which finished off with a spring-like taste of basil.

    And Tryst describes the Bitter Ex better than we'd even want to try: "Beefeater, Campari, Cynar artichoke liqueur, fresh grapefruit juice and Angostura bitters help one forget past regrets." And also, possibly, where one left one's SmarTrip card.

    Caceres told us they started making their own vermouths last week. So far they've created a bitter chamomile vermouth and a lavender one. Another DIY concoction of theirs? They're making their own tinctures: They grind spices or veggies, mix 'em with high-proof liquor, let them sit up to two weeks and strain. They add a couple of drops -- like the hibicus or vanilla -- to cocktails to add a tart, dry taste.

    "We're part of a revolution," Caceres told us. What kind of revolution? (Hey, so we had to ask.) They're going back to the classic American cocktail. Sometimes, that actually involves roasting slices of fruit with those little creme-brulee torches. And how could you not like that?

    The new cocktail menu isn't the only thing going on at Tryst, by the way. Keep your eyes out for a revamped food menu, hints owner Constantine Stavropoulous.