Two simple words possessed me to fight rush-hour traffic and patronize loathsome valet parking for a Friday happy hour in Uptown: Skittles Sangria.
Perusing Yelp for a new-to-me drinking spot, I'd stumbled on the Common Table's drink menu, and my inner alcoholic child was awakened by the promise of a tasty, boozy wine made with one of my favorite childhood candies.
A converted old house, the Common Table's dark green interior feels cozy, like stopping by a friend's house for a chat. We arrived around and claimed a couple open stools at one corner of the U-shaped wooden bar, quickly relaying our drink orders to the bar mistress.
Delivered in a generously sized goblet, the white sangria was crystal clear with colorful candy orbs floating at the bottom. The first sip was all white wine and no taste of the rainbow, but as I sucked it down the Skittles infused into the beverage and it turned an unappetizing gray color. By the time I reached the icy dregs at the bottom of the glass, the now pallid candies had given their all, and the resulting liquid at the bottom was deliciously and artificially fruit-flavored. My thirst for Yellow #5 and corn syrup sated for now, I turned my attention to more adult matters -- the cocktail list.
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The menu struck me as uninspired, with 90 percent of the drinks involving 2 or more of the following ingredients: gin, vodka, champagne, St. Germaine, strawberries. Yawn. My companions were contentedly sipping on brews from the extensive selection of hard-to-find and locally made beers, and I almost went that route myself, but my curiosity got the best of me.
I went against all my instincts and good sense and ordered The Mick, the only drink on the list that was based on a brown spirit: Jameson, Chambord, simple syrup, cranberry juice, sparkling hibiscus juice, and raspberries. Sounded gross, tasted even worse -- heavy and cloyingly sweet, it begged for a hint of lemon juice or fresh mint to brighten it up. Should've stuck with the Skittles.
Squinting up at the chalkboard menu behind the bar, I took a shot in the dark and ordered the first drink I could read off the board: the De Sade, an overly sweet and floral combination of Veev (a clear spirit made with acai berries and touted for its antioxidant properties), St. Germaine, Champagne, muddled strawberries and a splash of soda. Served in an oversized champagne flute, its thick head of froth was stained red with berry carnage.
By this time it was 6:30, the crowd at the bar was three-deep and the noise level had risen from a low din to a raucous roar. Time to throw back that drink and get the hell out. The Skittles Sangria was a yummy and clever idea that I'll happily steal, but the mixed drinks were unimaginative to say the least. They've got a remarkable selection of beers and that's what most of the patrons seem to order, so why the need for all this mixology stuff? I might go back for the ginormous chicken-fried ribeye and a brew, but I'll go elsewhere for my ten-dollar drinks.