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PX: Mystery, French Music and Amazing Cocktails

Admittedly, I have many metro DC restaurants and bars on my culinary bucket list; however, PX, has been at the top for a very long time. I finally got serious and made reservations for last night. My foodie friend Julie joined me to experience all that a modern-day speakeasy could offer.

The website for PX seductively tells you to “Find the blue light” somewhere along King Street in Old Town Alexandria. A treasure hunt! Bring it on.

When you face the red door with the grate in the center, you can’t help but think, “Oh yes. This is going to be special.”

The blue light
The blue light

After knocking, you are warmly greeted to enter behind the black velvet curtain and make your way up the tea-lit wooden staircase to the bar. Strains of Edith Piaf’s emotive voice welcome you as you arrive on the second floor which is cozy, dark and has the illicit vibe that must have been de rigeur for all ’20’s speakeasies.

Visual luxury abounds as you settle at the bar. You gaze over bottle after bottle of house made juices, syrups, bitters and other alchemic ingredients that will help the cocktails transcend to elixir status.

We were fortunate enough to have Julien Bourgon as our bartender. Originally from Québec, Julien came to PX to learn “from the best mixologist in the world,” the now legendary Todd Thrasher. Julien splits his time between PX and a sister bar on Columbia Pike in Arlington — Bar TNT. Just last Sunday (8/4/13) he was awarded the honor of Best Rickey in the D.C. Craft Bartenders Guild’s Best Rickey 2013 contest. His “War Pig Rickey” wowed the judges. The drink consists of housemade cantaloupe soda, Bulleit Bourbon, lemon juice, and floating melon pieces frozen via dry ice, instead of ice cubes.

Julien Bourgon mixes magic at PX
Julien Bourgon mixes magic at PX

The drinks we had were sublime. Julie ordered “I Know it Sounds like Pisco Punch but it’s Really Not” made with Macchu Pisco, pineapple and sage syrup, and house-made lemon bitters. I ordered the “I’m a Wee Bit Bitter About the Situation,” a lush combination of grapefruit, gin, house made soda and Aperol “glass.” Muddled together and sipped through a metal straw, it was a refreshing, perfect summer drink.

We shared a selection of cured olives from PX’s sister boutique emporium, Society Fair. The saltiness of the olives were the perfect foil for the juices in our drinks. For the second round, Julie chose “Thousands of Degrees of Hot and Not a Drop of Water” made with El Jimador Reposado Tequila, maple syrup water, lime juice, and Fresno chile soda. The heat of the chile soda was just enough to enliven the taste buds and then it gently melded with the lime juice and maple syrup water. I picked the “Sparkling Mojito” made with Barbancourt Rhum, muddled limes, mint simple, house-made mint bitters and Virginia fizz. Simply delicious.

Would I go back? Absolutely. I’m looking forward to a cold November or December evening to see what seasonal wonder the talent at PX has concocted. The combination of friendly, attentive service, artisanal cocktails and ambience really does make one feel like a personne exceptionnelle. After all, that’s what PX is all about.

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