Drinking with Alice: It's a trip
I drank at the 45th best bar in North America not long ago. I know this because Perrier announced its annual list of 50 and Allegory cocktail bar in Washington, DC, made it, if just barely.
The drinks are very well-conceived and -delivered, but clearly the deliriously high-concept infrastructure put it over the top.
Hard to put this simply: The drinks tell the story, less or more, of Alice in Wonderland filtered through the experience of Ruby Bridges, a girl who integrated an elementary school in Louisiana in the 1960s. Like Alice, the menu has 12 chapters with original drinks, each telling one part of Ruby's narrative.
A massive, unsettling mural spans one wall. The water pitchers are open-mouthed frogs. The drinks represent in part the cultural diversity of the staff.
I had to spend about 10 minutes soaking it all in before I even could figure out what to say to the hard-working barkeep.
Ultimately I chose Chapter 8, because I'd never had a cocktail with curry in it. Is there a reference to curry in Alice? Did Ruby's mom cook with it? Beats me.
It arrived with a flaming lime half turning Chartreuse into vapor.
The drink was challenging and delicious and slightly odd, which frankly seems right on-brand. The curry somehow worked beautifully.
Then, Chapter 4, a re-imagined Margarita. Lovely, similarly odd and original, but not as margarita-like as I expected. Must have been the lacto-huckleberry.
How these drinks are connected to the narrative the menu conveys remains something of a mystery to me. To be fair, I was drinking.