Playoff Cocktails – Bar Deco

Bar Deco is a hopping spot for simple drinks after catching a game at the nearby Verizon Center.

Ambiance: ****

Decor: ***1/2

Service: ****

Cocktails: ***1/2

Overall Rating: 3.75

I have a dilemma – I am a fan of faintly lit, quiet cocktail bars that don’t feature televisions. I am also a football fan. Torn by my twin passions, I often have to choose one or the other. But that was simply not an option on playoff weekend, so I was happy to read about Bar Deco on Eater DC’s updated drinks map. Bar Deco provides a lively, fun place to pre- or post-game events at the Verizon Center, which is right across the street. The vibe and deco aesthetic are cool, with a long, comfortable bar and plenty of out tables and booths, as well as a small open area for watching parties. And TVs, lots of TVs.

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Bar Deco offers eight “Deco Original” cocktails which I found pretty solid, including two standouts. Of note, the bartenders did a good of balancing making some of these more complex drinks while ably serving the masses. First up was the “Jalapeno Grapefruit Margarita” with Jalapeno-infused tequila, homemade grapefruit soda, and lime agave. Heat here, obviously, but not overwhelming. Strong, the tequila is very good and pronounced but surprisingly smooth. An interesting flavor I didn’t entire embrace but light, decent. On to “The 901” with Cold River vodka, siracha, cucumber, lime, paprika, and celery salt. Another spicy devil, this was intriguing, with a cool cucumber flavor on the front end that gives way to a siracha, herbal heat. Didn’t work perfectly for me but an ok flavor.

The drive continued with the “Berry Moonshine Smash” with Berry Moonshine, blackberry liquor, and lemon simple syrup. This was fine, nice and easy for day time drinkers. Refreshing, easy, light, with lots of fruit interactions. Cool. Next was the “Smoked Rosemary Collins” with Kettle One vodka, lemon, and simple syrup topped with soda. This was actually a standout, which I didn’t expect given its simplicity. But here everything just clicked, a nice lemon kick with some good vodka behind it. Pleasant sweetness and ultra-refreshing, the rosemary is a welcome touch that accents all the flavors.

Half-time was over and I ordered the “Bulletin Apple Crusta” with apple jack, triple sec, luxardo, lemon, and maple syrup. This wasn’t a favor as its extremely, extremely heavy on the apple taste and very rich. The maple also weighs it down with sugar – not awful, but just a little too overwhelming and thick for my taste. On to the “Kingslayer” with Angel’s envy bourbon, St. Elizabeth all-spice dram, lemon, vanilla simple syrup, and walnut bitters. The Kingslayer was recommended to me via Instagram by bartender William Alvarez and with good reason: this was a standout, rich with a great bourbon taste and walnut pick-me-up as you go into the drink. The dram is good, some nice herbal notes with good spice. Great.

Fourth quarter was the “Chinatown Pain Killer” with Captain Morgan spiced rum, bacardi, Coco Lopez, almond syrup, pineapple, Chinese 5 Spice and nutmeg. This was a very good tropical drink, a full-bodied coconut taste with tasty almond notes and a nice strain of pineapple. A great milky consistency with just the right amount of spice. Good. The finale was the “Chocolate Metropolitan” with ryemageddon, brandy, chocolate bitters, simple syrup, lemon, and Averna Amaro, which is an Italian liqueur and a cousin to Amaro. This was another heavy drink that had the just the right amount of sweetness and body. The chocolate is fairly pronounced and plays well with the brandy. A good way to end a football Sunday.

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