Vodka cocktails typically aren't very nuanced. They're poured from a well or an overpriced bottle of Grey Goose, then watered down with a squirt of cranberry juice or soda from those disgusting behind-the-bar guns. There is really no sense in making vodka more complicated than it has to be -- water it down to cut the burn and make it drinkable enough that you'll eventually black out.
But that doesn't mean mixologists can't try to fancy up a vodka drink. At Henderson Avenue Country Club, you'll find a cocktail just sweet enough to remind you of those black-out days without making you actually reconsider your old habit of mixing a handle of McCormick's vodka with a canister of Crystal Light lemonade powder.
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Henderson Avenue Country Club exists somewhere between a high-end cocktail bar and the joint you used to close down in college. It's got a thoroughly honky-tonk feel, and the menu is almost exclusively comfort food and barbecue. It isn't a place where you expect to find Aperol and Domaine De Canton, but there it is.
There are plenty of entry-level cocktails, your Moscow Mules and gimlets, but this isn't your average, boring bar menu, as evinced by the vodka-based Why The Long Face. The mix of vodka, lime juice, simple syrup, raspberry and thyme sprigs is sweet and tart, if a bit watered down from an overly enthusiastic shake at the bar. The raspberries are only muddled a bit into the drink, and it could use more lime juice to balance out the simple syrup.
Overall, though, it is exactly the kind of drink that you want to have when you're faced with a giant plate of burnt ends or smoked pork ribs. It's not too heavy, and perfectly refreshing if you've had too much spicy sauce. A dash or two of peach bitters adds a welcome complexity, and you should ask for extra when you order. A lot of cocktails in town could use an extra dash of bitters before tasting, and that is especially true here. Bitters can be intimidating for people who don't know much about cocktails, especially if they think that they don't like bitter flavors. But if you've been drinking long enough to order cocktails, you're old enough to understand that most drinks simply need more bitters. They're better that way.
Still, this cocktail is part of a menu that can appeal to a wide swath of drinkers without being dumbed-down. In the world of craft cocktails, there is sometimes a little derision directed at people who enjoy really drinkable cocktails, but not every cocktail has to be a heavy, spirit-forward, 27-element production. Sometimes, a simple drink that you can easily slug down six of is precisely what you need. And for that purpose, the Why The Long Face is perfect.