Oh great, Sen. Clay is playing bartender again

Last month, dl004d mentioned that he had visited the Old San Juan, Puerto Rico bar that invented in the pina coloda. That reminded that Henry Clay (Whig-Kentucky) introduced the mint julep to Washington (and thus the world outside of Kentucky) at the Willard Hotel. I had been meaning to there for some time as a tribute to one of my favorite historical figures, not too mention my favorite refreshments. Several weeks ago, Erica and I, along with our visiting friend Wiley and his girlfriend Ashley, stopped by the Willard’s Round Robin bar after a attending the Smithsonian Folklife festival.

Just visiting the Willard Hotel is fun because it is such a marvelous building, inside and out. The Round Robin itself is beautiful bar tasteful charactetures of famous guests as well and a black marble bar. There are also tasteful chairs, probably made out of cherry, and tables on the outside of the circular bar.

Once we seated ourselves, we each ordered a mint julep. The second bartender (whose name I wish I could recall) made the drinks with Maker’s Mark, mint, and sugar. I don’t recall if he used branch water (spring water) like the recipe says. I was surprised to see that he put mint in the glass before adding the ice too. There was also a lemon wedge included, which I had not seen with a mint julep previously. Thankfully, it was not squeezed out.

We all enjoyed our mint juleps, though I would have preferred it without the mint in inside because it overpowered the Maker’s Mark a little if my straw was all the way to the bottom. I wouldn’t have minded another one, but at $14 each, that would have been a too steep. I am not complaining though, since the Round Robin is an elegant place to enjoy a cocktail and conversation. The bartender shared some stories about the Round Robin that were quite interesting and “worth the price of admission.” He also let me sample some Bulleit Bourbon on the house. I enjoyed it and may add it to my collection. I certainly enjoyed it more than the Wild Turkey Rare I ordered after my mint julep. At 108.2 proof, the alcohol in Rare Breed overpowers the taste — I much prefer the smooth Wild Turkey 101.

While the Senator Clay’s mint julep recipe is not my favorite, I enjoyed the history and ambiance of the Round Robin enough to want to return. I will certainly do so in the near future.

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