kelly magyarics

washington, d.c.-based wine, spirits, travel & lifestyle writer / wine educator


"Listen to the Ice"

I had a lovely time last evening at PX, the Alexandria speakeasy that is basically the playground for mixologist Todd Thrasher's amazingly complex concoctions.

Not to give away too many of the destination's secrets, but for those of you unfamiliar with PX, the lounge really does evoke the feeling of a speakeasy. There is no sign--patrons know it's open when the skull and crossbones flag that flies over Eamonn's fish and chips restaurant on the first floor (also owned by Cathal Armstrong) is out, and when the single blue light bulb is lit. Ring the doorbell, and the hostess slides the peephole door. A password isn't needed, but a reservation is suggested--especially on busy weekend evenings. Once inside, it definitely feels like you've stepped back into another time--crystal chandeliers hang over the bars and tables, dark blue velvet sofas fill one room, and the walls are made with gorgeous dark stained wood.

PX is small by design--only holding 30-35 people, so conversation, and finding a place to sit, is easy. It's meant to be a destination for a cocktail or two before or after dinner--reservations are for 2 hour blocks, maximum.

Crafting excellent cocktails take time, and a seat at the bar is a show in itself, and makes the time fly by. A peak at the back bar shows a shelf of high-end liquors, as well as bottles and jars labeled with masking tape. PX has 11 housemade bitters and lots of infused syrups. Heck, even the tonic and ginger ale are homemade. The place is 1/2 bar, 1/4 kitchen and 1/4 chemistry lab.

I started with a "Boris Karloff," with housemade elderflower liqueur (St. Germain isn't available in Virginia...), Plymouth gin and kiffir lime. This drink is a fizz, so it also contained egg white to make it frothy. It was aromatic and refreshing.

We also tried the "China Rose", with house-infused vanilla Cruzan rum, hibiscus bitters and dried hibiscus flowers. Bright red and served in a hurricane-style glass, it was deceptively less sweet than I thought it would be. And really, really good.

"The Big O" mixed Hendricks gin, Cointreau, orange bitters, orange syrup and lime juice--a perfectly balanced warm weather sipper.

PX's menu changes frequently, and mix master Thrasher is a staunch supporter of only using ingredients in season. For more information about PX, go to Eamonn's website, and click on the PX logo in the bottom right-hand corner.

Oh, and "listen to the ice" is PX's mantra--order, sit back, relax, let the magical mixing begin, and listen to the ice.