Tucked away in the back corner of Tonic’s basement bar, a neon sign marks the entrance of Last Exit, Mount Pleasant’s newest speakeasy-like cocktail den, which opens today. As you pass through a dim hallway, the space unfolds, a former accounting office repurposed with an eclectic mix of tufted couches, vinyl chairs, and low-lit red lights. The bar holds just six stools, and its crown jewels sit on the top shelf: glass jars of spirits flavored with fruits, herbs, and spices; the display mimics a pantry lineup of summer-bounty preserves. (I challenged a bartender to fish two chilies out of a large glass jar that also held clementine wedges. Another customer and I cautiously popped them whole—we wish we hadn’t.)
Each of these six infusions, sipped over ice with a splash of soda or tonic water, comes with a little food pairing: mint-infused bourbon with chocolate chips, tea-infused vodka with popcorn. Bar manager Patrice Cleary heats up a rosemary vodka with black peppercorns for the Harrison cocktail, topped with tonic and served with green grapes. Patrice’s favorite drink is the Josephine: grapefruit peel, thyme, and gin. While the scent is floral, the drink has a bitter finish, but pop its accompaniment, a jelly bean, and the sweetness provides balance. There are also three “classic” cocktails and three “sexy and seductive” ones, original creations with names such as Strapless Rayon Dress.
The eight-item (five savory, three sweet) small-plates menu features my favorite part of Last Exit: chicken La Paloma, shredded braised chicken in a deep-fried pastry, flanked with salsa and black-bean aïoli. The recipe for the small meat pies comes from Patrice’s mother, Alice. If those little parcels—some of the tastiest bar bites I’ve had in a while—are any indication, Last Exit has lots of potential.
Last Exit, 3155 Mount Pleasant St., NW; 202-986-7661; lastexitdc.com. Open daily at 7 PM.
Dorothy’s Devilicious Manhattan $10
Jack Daniel’s, sweet vermouth, dash of Angostura bitters, splash of cherry juice
Odessa the Old-Fashioned $10
Fighting Cock, orange bitters, club soda, and the fruit cocktail that you really want
Sammy Slick Side Car $11
St. Rémy XO, Cointreau, fresh lime and lemon juice, brandy margarita anyone?
Sexy & Seductive
Perfect Pink Panties $11
Zonin Prosecco, peach purée, dash of bitters. Not what you’re thinking . . .
Strapless Rayon Dress $11
Basil Hayden, Tuaca, squeeze of a luscious lemon
Dirty Red Velvet $11
Taylor Fladgate Tawny Port, sparkling wine
The creativity behind the infusions allows us to frequently introduce new and tantalizing cocktails to you. Enjoy them while they are here, but prepare yourselves for the ones that are yet to come.
The Harrison $11
Rosemary-and-black-peppercorn-infused vodka served on the rocks with a splash of tonic and paired with a side of green grapes
The Violetta $11
Mint-infused bourbon served on the rocks with a dash of sweet syrup and paired with a side of chocolate chips
The Josephine $11
Grapefruit-and-thyme-infused gin served on the rocks with club soda and paired with a side of jelly beans
The Margare’ $11
Pineapple-infused vodka served up in a martini glass and paired with a side of potato chips
The Antoinette $11
Ginger-and-blackstrap-molasses-infused vodka served on the rocks with fresh-squeezed orange juice and paired with a side of granola
The Olivia $11
Our secret house-made-tea-infused vodka served on the rocks and paired with a side of popcorn
Infusion Flights $18
Choice of any three infusions, 2-ounce pours
Truffle fries $9
Shoestring potatoes, Parmesan, fresh herbs, and truffled hollandaise
Chicken La Paloma $9
Spicy braised chicken pies and black-bean aïoli
Corn fritters $9
Southwest style, poblano and pimento pepper, and spinach-walnut pesto
Fried chicken livers $9
Chicken-fried chicken livers and buttermilk gravy
Daily flatbread $9
Banana-custard tart $8
With peanut caramel
Berry shortcake $8
Seasonal gastrique and fresh whipped cream
Bourbon cookie, fresh toasted marshmallow, and cayenne ganache
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