Best Whiskey Sour

Best: Mine
2nd Best: McCormick & Schmick’s
901 F St. NW, (202) 639-9330
In A Moveable Feast, when F. Scott Fitzgerald feels off while traveling to Paris from the north of France, Ernest Hemingway asks the bellhop for two glasses of whiskey, some ice, and a bottle of fresh lemonade. He mixes the three together (going heavy on the booze) and serves one to Fitzgerald. Guess what? It worked. Since then, the whiskey sour has lost some of its cachet. In an age where bartenders double as mixologists and every joint in town stocks at least one hip microbrew, there’s simply no reason to order what is at most bars and restaurants a shitty drink put together with sickeningly sweet bottled mixes, too-little alcohol, and a season’s worth of tropical fruit as garnish. But there’s at least one place in D.C. that does the whiskey sour to Papa Hemingway’s standards, and it shouldn’t matter that it’s a chain. McCormick & Schmick’s on 9th and F Streets NW serves a classic whiskey sour. The bartenders make their own simple syrup, using fresh lemons and sugar. The result is a damn fine sipping drink. The sweetness is peripheral; the lemon juice reminds one why it’s called a whiskey sour; and the Wild Turkey, with its warm, smoky flavor, smartly rides herd. What keeps McCormick & Schmick’s from being No. 1? Some of the bartenders prepare the drink with more syrup than bourbon (I’m vehemently opposed to paying for a weak drink and then overtipping to get a fair amount of liquor in successive rounds). At $8.75, the whiskey sour isn’t cheap. Drinking one well-made, however, is worth it.
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