That Neighborhood Place – Tazza Kitchen

A friendly little spot off of Glebe, Tazza’s is a good spot for an after-work cocktail (believe me, I know).

Ambiance: ***1/2

Decor: ***1/2

Service: ****

Cocktails: ***1/2

Overall Rating: 3.75

Always sort of funny when you turn your head while driving home and realize there’s a big bar/restaurant right that you’ve driven by 300 times without noticing.  Frequently absent-minded, I missed the construction and opening of Arlington’s Tazza Kitchen, a chain-lette restaurant with a few locations in Virginia.  Fun and extraneous fact: as a 10+ year resident of the area, I remember that space being occupied by Blockbuster Video.  Anyway, after an enjoyable visit I thought Tazza offered mostly solid drinks with one real standout.  The decor is very pleasant and inviting, with that kind of electronic modern industrial that’s all the rage these days.  Also, service was excellent with bartender Victoria providing cocktails at a nice clip.

To the drinks!  Started in order with the “Cosmo Relief” made with vodka, St. Germain, lemon and bitters.  This was fine, easy drinking, a bit bitter (a good thing) and I liked the lemon interaction with the St Germain.  Came off well.  Then we had the unappetizingly named but complex “Lipstick Stains” made of aperol, luxardo maraschino, cocchi rosa, lemon, bitters, and Prosecco.  This drink puts across a very unique and light taste, almost licorice-y, with a little heat in it.  Tart and peppery, this was a new and enjoyable taste for me.

Roll on.  The “Lawn Dart” was by far the best and most interesting drink I had at Tazza.  A mix of blanco, tanqueray, green chartreuse, agave, lime, and bell pepper, this thingroared across my palette with a really cool and unique burn.  Never tasted anything like it!  A great pepper hint in the background, the Dart was not overly sweet, and comes together perfectly in a nice simmering and earthy burn.  This is a must try  It’s also a hard act to follow, but I have the “Warm Fuzzies” a shot.  Made of rum, belle isle honey habanero, lemon, honey, fresno pepper, and expressed grapefruit, the Fuzzy delivers a really harsh and searing burn that I found a little too citrusy.  It’s not a bad drink, and it stuck with me in a twisty, hot aftertaste.  Fine.

Let’s keep it moving – The “Southern Belle” is made of vodka, St. Germain, ransom dry vermouth, lavender bitters, and expressed lemon.  Like its namesake the Belle was very pretty, while the taste was decent, relaxing, and enriched by a nice lavender and lemon hue.  A nice sipper or patio drink.  Much harsher was its follow-up the “Almost Famous” which was probably my least favorite drink of the evening.  Made of whiskey, luxardo maraschino, bonal, bitters, and expressed lemon, this drink comes across HEAVY with a rye taste that basically overwhelms all the other ingredients.  Now, as a rye fan, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but sort of disappointing for a cocktail whose ingredients promise a more interesting flavor.

Our final act was the “Oaxaca Old Fashioned,” an interesting concoction that uses mezcal, espolon reposado tequila, agave, and aztec chocolate bitters.  Certainly taking the cake for originality, this drink was interesting but a little rough and overly syrupy.  Not the worst, the taste gets a bit more intriguing as it rolls on your tongue.  Different, definitely different.

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