I don’t go downtown very often. Unless I’m being dragged to an all male strip show by my colleagues or hitting up a burlesque party brunch (this job can be very weird), I don’t see any reason for it. The crowds get on my nerves and, more importantly, there’s nowhere I’m interested in eating and drinking. Unless I’m going to spend big money at Barmini (assuming I can even get in the door), there’s not much happening for me.
Which is why I was wary of Pennsylvania 6. Their cocktail list was intriguing enough, but they were so close to Capitale (which is the venue of my nightmares at this point) I was on guard. It was also hot as hell outside and the last thing I wanted to do was sit outside and get dehydrated.
Thankfully, it was all worth it for the Thurston Howell III. Featuring light rum, coconut water (which I usually hate), passion fruit, and lemon, it tasted like a more refreshing version of a Piña Colada, and there was no heavy cream in sight. I don’t know what kind of coconut water they’re using, but it’s amazing. My notes really say it all. The only thing I wrote down was “tropical dream” and “pretty fucking good” and, trust me, both of those are very apt.
My next favorite was the Xalapa Ananas. The drink begins with tequila that is infused with jalapeño for a full 24 hours and then is infused with pineapple. After that they add orange liquor and lime, essentially making a margarita. It’s stupidly drinkable. The pineapple keeps the jalapeño from being overwhelming, but there’s still enough spice that your lips sort of burn throughout the duration of the drink.
Those two drinks alone are worth stopping by for if you’re in the area, but they’re also the least subtle cocktails on the menu (because I like my drinks to be a punch in the face). Pennsylvania 6 really flourishes when it comes to patio pounders. The kind of drinks that, if money provides, you can drink all day long without getting sick of them. White usually requires a more delicate hand. If you’re looking for something like that, I can 100% recommend the Basil Sour and then Yukio Ozaki. The Basil Sour, which is actually their most popular drink, includes a basil infused honey syrup, gin, lemon, and then a dry shake with some egg white to get a nice fluffy froth. BYT photographer Franz Mahr absolutely loved it. If you’re into low key floral drinks, then this is going to be the cocktail for you.
The Yukio Ozaki (which is named after the man who was mayor of Tokyo when Japan gifted the cherry blossoms to D.C.) is similarly delicate, despite the difference in ingredients. This one includes rye, almond, flower water, creole bitters, a orange garnish and a little bit of Bell’s Two Hearted. It’s almost like a baby Old Fashioned. If you want to drink rye all day and not get absolutely destroyed, this is a safe bet. Alternatively, if you want to ease a cocktail novice into liking Old Fashioneds, this might just be the way to go.
Even though it was not on the spring cocktail menu, I have to recommend the Treaty of Paris, which pairs a melon puree with a prosciutto garnish and some sparkling wine. It hits all the right flavor combinations and you get a snack after your done drinking.
While I can’t see myself going out of my way to Pennsylvania 6, if I’m ever trapped downtown (which happens more often than I prefer), it’s a safe haven of sorts. While they’re cocktails fall on the expensive side, it’s hardly crazier than any other bougie bar downtown… And none of them have the Thurston Howell III.