Cocktail conundrum

Illustration by Mark Stivers

Classic or modern? It’s a constant push and pull between these two concepts when it comes to the arts, be it interior design, fashion or even food. Yes, you can always combine them, but you run the risk of creating an ersatz aesthetic if you don’t balance them well. I find that each extreme has its own charm that one can imbibe in, an idea that applies well to cocktails.

For old-time drinks, jaunty and slick like a well-sculpted sidecar, I head to Shady Lady Saloon (1409 R Street). Dark and cushy, the interior and citrus-oil-sprayed air emphasize classic cocktails that have withstood the test of time.

For cocktails that are unpredictable, I usually go to Lounge on 20 (1050 20th Street). I take a laissez-faire approach to my drinking here and simply ask the bartender to bring their most intriguing concoction (most recently, a whisky drink with sage and blackberries).

Each location offers drinks that are deftly crafted by bartenders who are as chill as the glass they pour into. Classic or modern, you can’t go wrong.