In addition to recommendations for quality drinks, I will, on occasion, throw in helpful tips for identifying quality cocktail professionals – like the people at Burtons Grill and Bar.
It can be difficult to know what to order in an unknown bar, especially when you have never been there. My recommendation, order an Old Fashioned. A standard Old Fashioned is typically 2 oz of bourbon, sugar (cube or teaspoon), Angostura Bitters and a fruit peel, typically orange. Not a complicated drink, easy to make and easy to make a decent one but rarely done really well. Honestly, most fail. Far too many overly watered, super sweet renditions. Probably took 5 seconds to make. They usually taste weak or sappy sweet. It’s clear they were produced quickly with little attention to the potential of the drink.
Wife and I went to dinner at Burtons Grill and Bar in Alexandria. Never been, not sure about the cocktails, although the bar did have some uncommon liquors on display. Being unsure I went ahead and ordered an Old Fashioned, which was not actually on the menu. Right out of the bat the staff asks me what bourbon I would like. That is a rare question and in this instance, an early indication of commitment to quality. I settled on the 10 year Knob Creek Rye.
Automatically I notice the big single ice cube. This reduces melting and thus dilution. Probably a good sign if the bartender took steps to make sure the drink isn’t diluted, and yes, the opposite is also true. Hard to see in the pic, but the orange peel is also expertly sliced. Very little of the bitter pith.
The taste was awesome. Bourbon forward with slight notes of sweet and citrus. Could definitely taste the bourbon. The kind of drink where you can identify each ingredient as well as the distinct flavor of the ingredients working together. Incidentally, went back a week later, ordered the same drink and had exactly the same experience. I’ll be back, this time I’ll get creative!
Burtons Grill and Bar (6452 Old Beulah St, Alexandria, VA 22315)