Though this city offers an amazing variety of some of the most dynamic cocktails, I'm also on the lookout for the great common classics - the house wines of the cocktail world. Like the restaurant owner who tests a new chef with with something as simple as an omelette, you can tell a lot about a bar based on how they handle the standards. As the temperatures rise one of those classics that simply quenches your thirst and brightens your mood is the Mojito. It's a straight forward drink with rum, lime, mint and sugar (liquid or granulated), and a quick splash of soda water.
On my way home from U Street I dropped by Masa 14 and got their Mojito Tradicional made with Bacardi Castillo silver rum. The atmosphere there is sophisticated with its clean lines, exposed brick and open ceilings. Masa 14 attracts DC's busy, young professionals who are looking for an interesting variety of food and it delivers with its incredibly stocked menu of Asian-fusion tapas mixing traditional Spanish with the Orient. The staff was friendly, quick and and always willing to make recommendations.
I ordered and in what seemed just seconds the mojito appeared on my table. From my other posts you will know that I'm not the biggest fan of candy-sweet drinks. Nothing kills a cocktail more than by sweetening it to the taste of a sorority girl on spring break at Daytona Beach. Well folks, for the first time I will report that that Masa's Mojito was not sweet enough. It had the refreshing lime tartness and acidity that I love from a good mojito and the Castillo rum came through as the team captain, supported by the fresh mint, but was left flat by a lack of sugar which gives a mojito a balance of sweet and sour. This may have been a simple oversight that happens to all of us (or perhaps it was batch-made) but this can be a common affliction of many of the larger, more corporate-style establishments in the city. When it gets busy their bars tend to turn into assembly lines focused on speedy service, which can be a good thing. But slowing it down a notch and letting your customers know that their wait will be rewarded is what I think makes a great restaurant.