If there is a better spot in DC to go with a friend for a drink and a lot of talking than the courtyard patio of Bourbon Steak, in the Georgetown Four Seasons, I do not know where it is. The spot is utterly peaceful – there are comfortable outdoor sofa things to lounge on, amazing staff who are attentive but laid-back, and actual birds chirping. It is not exactly a banging dance party scene, mind you. On an early Wednesday evening, the crowd seemed skewed toward hotel guests and Georgetown Ladies – but with weather that gorgeous, a setting that pleasant, and delicious drinks to sip, it did not matter at all.
And delicious all our drinks were. Perhaps slightly under the radar, the cocktail program at Bourbon Steak is really top-notch. Sure, with a name like that, one might focus on the whiskey section of the substantial binder that serves as a menu – and there are many fantastic choices available individually or in curated flights. However, flip toward the front of that binder and you will find several pages of seasonal cocktail suggestions which include classics and newer creations, all well-selected and well-executed.
The bar had just switched over to a summer menu, punctuated with a few tropical touches which make for fun things to sip on in the sunshine and I decided to go with their version of a painkiller, called PNKY.
This variant is based on the recipe used by the New York craft-tiki-cocktail bar which was, until a recent legal action called Painkiller, and has now been re-named PKNY. I found the cheeky hint of solidarity charming. Also, while I will be in New York this weekend, my plans will not be taking me to the Lower East Side – so I thought it would be a timely taste of what I would be missing.
I have had a few really tasty painkillers in my day, most notably at the outstanding Smugglers Cove in San Francisco. I have also had less-inspiring ones, including – in the one time I may ever criticize a drink I had at The Passenger – a totally disappointing one there on one of the earlier Tiki Tuesdays. Bourbon Steak’s version was fantastic.
A tiki style drink lives or dies by the quality and freshness of the juices used as much as by the rums that form the base. This one delivered a clean, “real fruit” taste, without cloying sweetness. The texture hit the perfect note as well – not overly viscous as so many coconut things can be. Served over chipped ice, topped with nutmeg and bight green mint, it was a perfect summertime delight.