Friday Happy Hour: Burnt Sugar Old Fashioned

It’s time for Friday Happy Hour, highlighting a drink we’ve recently enjoyed, every Friday at 4pm! Please share your favorites as well.

Tuesday was my rad friend Julie’s birthday. Julie does really important work at a really important non-profit and is always surrounded by super cool activist types, musicians, and the like. I showed up to her impromptu party at Haydees in Columbia Heights straight from a meeting, dressed like someone who has to get up early to take the train to work on Wednesday mornings; I was the only one so attired. Pitchers and pitchers of margaritas came as the group swelled in size and grew louder to try to compete with the blaring music. As it got later, I realized I was going to have to be that loser who leaves the party first – thus confirming everything the cool kids probably thought of me and my sell-out job all along.

My friend Jeffrey agreed to leave at the same time, but as soon as we got out of the loud, loud restaurant, he made clear he was not actually ready to go home. He knew our friend Iris was working over at Room 11 and so we made our way there. I may be giving away a secret here, but around midnight on a Tuesday night is the perfect time to go to Room 11. The snug, warm bar had only a few other patrons and the atmosphere is extra cozy. Room 11 is generally open until at least 1:00 – part of the owners’ commitment to creating a “neighborhood bar” feel.

On the chalkboard was a Burnt Sugar Old Fashioned which, Iris told me, was one of the first special cocktails the staff created upon the bar’s opening but which is sometimes unavailable when they cannot get the special sugar in question. When prepping a syrup of it, the bartenders burn the sugar to caramelize it and add extra molasses. This creates a dark, opaque cocktail with a depth of flavor. Iris added Maker’s Mark bourbon, Fee Brothers Bitters – and a peel of orange which took a bit of effort as she was working with one injured hand. The drink was rich and delightful and a perfect way to end the evening. It was even better than the sticky, bright green margaritas in huge cups I had been drinking all night (which is shocking, I know.)

Brittany has tried to leave DC, it just never lasts. She has lived in Chicago, California, and China – but she always comes back home. Brittany is a drinks, nightlife, and style correspondent for We Love DC. Between columns, you can find her on Twitter, Tumblr, or standing by the bar. Email her at brittany(at)

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