Tucked into Gallery Place-Chinatown, the Chinatown Coffee Co. serves coffee and alcoholic beverages; including absinthe!
I was surprised to see absinthe on the menu and in a coffee house. Absinthe, a potent drink that is linked to writers and artists, is also banned in some countries for turning citizens into criminals and lunatics.
Hailed as “the green fairy” in literature, absinthe is a distilled, highly alcoholic beverage using botanical herbs and wormwood, the main ingredient of the drink. The term probably derived from the Greek “apsinthion” meaning “undrinkable”, I found this drink to be undrinkable.
I ordered Lucid, the first genuine absinthe made with Grande Wormwood, which has been legally available in the U.S. for the last 95 years. Distilled from whole herbs in alcohol, it has a strong licorice flavor. I could feel the flavor at the tip of my tongue. It was like drinking Nyquil straight out of the bottle. One has to acquire the taste for this beverage. And I don’t think I will ever acquire a taste for it. I replaced it with Chardonnay. It is crisp, refreshing, and far less potent.
Another potent drink is an affogato. This makes the Frappuccino look a milkshake. It is a shot of intelligentista espresso poured over a scoop of Dolcezza gelato. The salted caramel gelato and the espresso are a strong combination of tastes. This cold beverage will definitely wake you up.
Chinatown Coffee Co. doesn’t make their food. The food is sourced from independent coffeehouses, bake shops and other food establishments in and out of the Washington, D.C. area. The miniature snack bar and candy stand is filled with classic treats, organic chocolate, and other condiments. The potato chips from The Billy Goat Chip Company weren’t so great. They were flat and stale.
If you plan to drop by and experience this urban coffee shop, come during the week. Seating is available during those times. It’s a very small coffeehouse and seating is limited. The weekend is most crowded and noisy.
Chinatown Coffee Co. 475 H Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20001 (202) 559-7656 www.chinatowncoffee.com.