Drinking Up the Neighborhood at Mason Social

A nice neighborhood spot, Mason Social is a good spot to chat with Alexandria locals and down a few cocktails.

Ambiance: ****

Decor: ***1/2

Service: ****

Cocktails: ***1/2

Overall Rating: 3.75

Another fun up and coming neighborhood is the “Parker Gray” area, which most sensible people might call “North Old Town.”  The condos move in, then the townhouses, and the hip restaurants and cross-fit studios are quick to follow.  One of the eateries of note is Mason Social, a nice bar/restaurant that I visited on my birthday.  But I didn’t sample the cocktails, which it trumpets quite loudly.  Well, this weekend I put that right and sidled up to the bar for a nice night of sipping.  Overall, the bar is pleasant and the service was really  superb — some of the best, friendliest bar tenders I’ve come across in my boozy travels.

And the drinks!  Mason Social is a very good cocktail place with a couple of standout drinks.  The first was the “Parker Gray,” a neighborhood homage that features Earl Grey infused Catoctin Creek rye, Vermouth, and Jack Rudy bitters.  I could smell the Catoctin rye a mile away — this is a stiff drink  that provides little cover or comfort.  I liked it, but if you’re not a fan of rye, probably best to skip this uncompromising cocktail.  Next up was the “Backyard Sour” made with Larceny bourbon, smoked strawberry-peppercorn syrup, lemon, and amaro rinse.  A bonus of this drink is watching the bartenders spritz the amaro into the glass, which is pretty cool.  The syrup has a nice bite which works well with the bourbon and makes it very interesting.  I liked it.

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My favorite was up next — the “Sneaky Pete” is made of Espalon Blanco tequila, red bell pepper juice, agave, lime, bell pepper salt, and habanero shrub.  I was a little reticent going into this drink because I don’t naturally love tequila and spice, but it was a great surprise.  Amazing taste that is sent into the flavor stratosphere by the red pepper — it’s a great sensation on the mouth.  Not too hot and perfectly balanced.  Less complex but still enjoyable was the next drink, the “Ginger Over Mary Ann” made of Mount Gay Eclipse Rum, fresh squeezed pineapple, ginger syrup, lime, Angostura bitters, and Fever ginger beer.  It’s a cooling, good tropical dink that goes down easy — simple and good.

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I finished off with two excellent drinks, the “Northside Fizz” with Aviation gin, egg white, St. Germain, lemon, simple syrup, and club soda.  I’m becoming more and more a fan of drinks that incorporate foam like this, I think it’s a great way to temper and integrate gin into a drink.  This was a sweet cocktail with an interesting flavor that was soft on the mouth and cute to the drink.  I concluded with the “CHB” with Bombay Sapphire East gin, hibiscus syrup, lemon, and soda water — one of the bartenders really advocated for this drink, saying how the taste changes (for the better).  I picked up on that effect too, the drink is relaxing and layered and gets to a nice subtle sweet spot as you finish.

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And with that I was done — again, Mason Social was a great setting for some cocktails and really extraordinary bartenders who care about the craft.  Get on over when you can.

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