Underserved is a recurring Y&H feature highlighting the best cocktails you’re not ordering.
What: Kazbegi Sunrise with chacha, Perun pear brandy, St. Germain, peach puree, lemon, and a Pirosmani wine float
Where: Compass Rose, 1346 T St. NW
What You Should Be Drinking Forget tchotchkes—the best souvenir from a trip around the world is inspiration. That’s what the Compass Rose team brought home with them from a June trip to Georgia (the country, not the Peach State). Beverage Director Janelle Whisenant was particularly moved by a visit to a small town in the Caucasus mountains because of the view of Mt. Kazbek. The area is officially called Stepantsminda today, though most still refer to it by its original name, Kazbegi, now the namesake of one of her cocktails. “The drink is pretty much an ode to Georgia,” Whisenant explains. That’s why it contains the country’s chief spirit, chacha, a grape-based pomace brandy that sips like grappa. She combines it with a Serbian pear brandy for a kick, St. Germaine liqueur for sweetness, housemade peach puree, lemon, and a float of Georgian Pirosmani red wine. It looks similar to a Tequila Sunrise—another source of inspiration.
Why You Should Be Drinking It Whisenant says patrons are skipping over the drink not only because they’re unfamiliar with chacha and Pirosmani, but also because they’re nervous about potentially mispronouncing Kazbegi when ordering. Our advice? Use that pointer finger when your waiter comes around. “We work with lesser-known spirits, lesser-known wine regions here, so this drink really embodies what we’re trying to do,” says owner Rose Previte. Though there are many flavors competing for your taste buds’ attention in the Kazbegi Sunrise, the chacha’s intriguing flavor doesn’t have anywhere to hide. The slight viscosity resulting from the inclusion of peach puree gives the cocktail a smoothie-like feel, and the Pirosmani float balances out the sweet components of the drink. You’re obviously pairing it with khachapuri, a Georgian bread, butter, and egg dish that has become the restaurant’s calling card.
Photo by Laura Hayes