Cocktails Behind the Brick Wall – Captain Gregory’s

Captain Gregory’s is at the forefront of DC’s experimental cocktail scene, and its dark and clandestine setting offer an unforgettable drinking experience. 

Ambiance: *****

Decor: *****

Service: *****

Cocktails: *****

Overall Rating: 5

Most folks who enter Sugar Shack donuts in Alexandria enter on a mission: procure as many donuts as possible.  Distracted by baked goods, they probably don’t notice the ingeniously disguised entrance to Captain Gregory’s, a cozy and spectacular speak easy that, with its antique décor and strong drinks, lingers in my memory like a hazy dream.  This was one of the rare bars — actually, maybe the first one I’ve been to — where EVERY drink was a standout hit.  The atmosphere is just perfect: very dark with low lighting that lends a gothic, Lovecraftian glaze to the room, just tailor-made for Halloween.  Hypnotic almost synth rock plays on a real, no-kidding record player.  Service was awesome including bartender Sam, who is a true pro.  And then the drinks, oh the drinks — tons of risks taken, lots of fun ingredients, and some incredible flavors.

Alright, so I kicked off the proceedings with a “Blind Coffee Farmer” with dark roast coffee liqueur, galangal bitters (no idea what those are) black pepper bitters, cream, and nutmeg.  I’m not usually a fan of dairy-based drinks but this was superb, with a savory nutmeg flavor that reminded me of a really well made iced latte.  Relaxing, this drink wasn’t strong and is probably a delightful way to end a night of drinking.  Ah, but the contrarian I am, the fun was just beginning!  I shifted over to one of Captain Gregory’s small batch experimental cocktails, the “Kitchen Sink Julep” with Russel’s Reserve, mint, thai basil, ginger, and lemongrass.  This was an extremely complex sensation (because you know, kitchen sink) that just blasts off as you swallow, a hot but manageable ginger and lemon grass taste that slowly emerges throughout the drink.  Love it, and almost detected a faint, beer-type taste, with more mystery thrown in by the basil.  This was such a good, intriguing drink that my notes include the word “speechless,” which is a good sign.

On to the “Hearty Breakfast” made of Rye washed with Bacon Fat, Maple Syrup, Black Pepper, and Sea Salt.  Again, a stunning and unique taste; the maple syrup and pepper are dominant, with the pepper adding a really out of this world taste that crushes the sweetness of the syrup for an enjoyable sensation.  Next up was the “Mayan Trade Routes” with Reposado Tequila, orange, lime, ginger, clove, and angostura  – oh my goodness this has a sublime citrus hit off of the tequila that I loved. The delicious ginger is balanced throughout and sparks nicely off of the clove and tequila, providing a perfectly even burn.

Next was the “Sudden Downpour in Manila” made with Banana and Red Miso infused Bourbon, Burnt sugar, and Angostura. The bourbon and banana pours in right off the bat with a great energy and ends with a really memorable, complex aftertaste that I enjoyed.  A very strange but cool drink to try, like nothing I’ve ever had.  Less complex but no less enjoyable was the follow up “Young Man from the Old Country” with olive oil washed vodka, lemon, macabeo, rosemary, and thyme.  This was very clean and smooth and made interesting with a subtle kick of rosemary.  Nice and easy.

I ended the evening, bleary eyed but excited, by visiting two apartments.  “Abandoned Apartment in Paris” consists of strange monkey gin, homemade rose liqueur, lemon, and egg white and delivers an awesome, soft, rich, and full flavor.  The gin is perfectly balanced and the egg white is a great touch, perfectly smoothing out the more severe burn as you go through it.  Solid drink.  It served as a great tee-up for my favorite drink of the night, the “Abandoned Apartment in London” (I’ve always been an Anglophile at heart) made of gin, homemade lavender liqueur, lime, and egg white.  This relatively simple mix just clicked with me; utter perfection, a flawless combo of lime, gin, and lavender. Goes down like a dream.  A perfect way to end a truly magical evening — can’t wait to get back!

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