When I was in my mid-twenties and earning government wages, I came to learn very quickly that there are two kinds of restaurants in this world: those to go to, and those to be taken to. Kinkead's was one to be taken to. Fortunately, I had a friend who needed help depreciating the value of a very thoughful gift certificate, so we gathered ourselves and our dates and the four of us headed down to Foggy Bottom to enjoy a meal that none of us could've afforded even if we'd skipped rent.
Afterwards (dinner was excellent, by the way), feeling spry and flush and having spent no actual money of our own, we meandered over to Off the Record at the Hay-Adams Hotel for a nightcap. For there are also two kinds of drinks, you see: those that start the evening, and those that finish it. We ordered well beyond our means for a couple rounds, and finished off with a delicate kick-in-the-teeth combination of Drambuie and Scotch called a Rusty Nail.
It must've been the Drambuie that caught my eye; I went through a Drambuie phase in college (and by "phase" I mean I drank a bottle of it once... no, not in one sitting, but several, and with friends), and clearly thought that the best way to kick up that old familiar burn would be to add some legal-aged peatiness to it.
Rosie Schaap at the Times recenlty wrote a piece that jogged the memory, "Rules for an Honorable Nightcap." Good rules to follow, excerpted here...
"A nightcap should be a one-off, not 'one more' of whatever you’re drinking. Your last drink should be set apart, so pick something special, something to sip slowly...Photo via: Marcus Nilsson for The New York Times.
"As a coda, a nightcap also shouldn’t stray too far from the movements that preceded it. It should bring them together and offer a fitting — not a dissonant — conclusion."
"A nightcap should also be brown," and, "perhaps most important... warming."