Alix had just picked me up from the airport and offered me two choices: classic cocktails or chicken wings? A near impossible decision to make, but after a long day of meetings and travel I was ready for a drink.
At first glance, Ballyhoo looks like a traditional blue collar neighborhood bar. I have no doubt, based on appearance, many people walk-in off the street and just think beer. But when you walk in, it’s as if you are in a brighter speakeasy. Liquor bottles locked on the wall, minimal lighting, and old wooden tabletops are reminiscent of some of our favorite DC haunts. However, Ballyhoo has a flavor all its own – which is why the cocktails can shine.
“Who can create the most memorable cocktail” seems to be a running competition. While trying to make the next revolutionary drink, many are moving away from sharing the classics. You might see the Last Word, Blood and Sand, or French 75 on a menu, but they are likely to be grouped together beside a series of original creations. This is one of the reasons I’ll be returning to Ballyhoo; they’ve created a menu that inspires a mastery of the classics.
If you’re looking to play it safe, order a Mai Thai (appears to be a classic Don the Beachcomber or Trader Vic recipe) or Daiquiri. If you’re ready to get outside of your comfort zone, consider the Paper Plane, Lion’s Tale, and Remember the Maine.
The next time you’re looking for a cocktail in a relaxed-neighborhood environment, there may be no better place. Ballyhoo offers the classic craft, without the pretentious nonsense.