City Paper is not for tourists
What: Papal Blessing, with G. Bertagnolli Grappa di Amarone, Tito’s Vodka, blackcurrant and rosemary shrub, lime juice, demerara sugar, and a rosemary sprig
Where: Woodward Table, 1426 H St. NW; (202) 347-5353; woodwardtable.com
What You Should Be Drinking: General manager Alissa Costello was stirred to pay homage to His Holiness last fall with a shrub-based cocktail made from a crate of sweet and juicy Concord grapes from Pennsylvania’s Earth N Eats Farm. The current incarnation of the drink uses blackcurrants instead, which are cooked down with apple cider vinegar, rosemary, and orange. The shrub is shaken with Grappa di Amarone—an Italian brandy distilled from grape skins, seeds, and stems—Tito’s Vodka, lime juice, and demerara sugar. As for the name? “During the crucial election process over the past two years, I couldn’t escape the obvious on who spoke the truth of truths,” Costello says. “Don’t we all need a papal blessing?” Amen.
Why You Should Be Drinking It: Progressive and endearing Pope Francis may be the drink’s inspiration, but right now a fictional pontiff is dominating the conversation. Jude Law’s character Pope Pius XIII on the new HBO series The Young Pope is downright weird—pretty much how guests viewed the original version of the cocktail because they couldn’t get past thoughts of syrupy grape juice or soda, Costello says. Fortunately, the blackcurrant riff has grip, tannin, and a tea-like flavor balanced by the tart shrub and citrus juice. But don’t think of it as a frou-frou fruit bomb: grappa and vodka may not add much flavor, but they do give body and spirit in spades. Match it with the tang of Chef Eddie Moran’s heirloom beet carpaccio, which is studded with pomegranate seeds and pickled grapes.