Derek Brown really wants to make you like sherry. The owner of The Passenger and Columbia Room, along with his wife Chantal Tseng and business partner Angie Salame, opens Mockingbird Hill in Shaw today. The ham and sherry bar carries 54 varieties of the Spanish wine—a number that will continue to grow.
Sherry is beloved by bar industry folks, even though it has a lousy reputation among the rest of us. Most people think all sherry is sweet (while in fact, the vast majority is dry) or associate it with sherry cooking vinegar (totally unrelated). “It’s a real beverage,” Brown says. “It’s the antithesis of whipped cream-flavored vodka.” To educate his guests, Brown plans to hold free sherry classes at Mockingbird Hill every Tuesday from 5 to 6 p.m.
For those who need to ease into their appreciation of sherry, there are four sherry cocktails. Bartender JP Fetherston, whom you’ll remember from Columbia Room and Rappahannock Oyster Bar, has also created Green Hat gin and tonics on tap.
Each sherry will be accompanied by a little snack—olives, walnuts, lupini beans—to complement it and bring out the flavors. And, of course, ham is another big attraction. Mockingbird Hill carries four local hams, including a lomo from Red Apron Butcher, plus Spanish varieties. Ham legs are carved in front of guests at a station at the end of the bar. There’s also a limited menu of Spanish-influenced small plates.
And as for the name Mockingbird Hill? It comes from The Clash song “Spanish Bombs.” Expect your sherry to come with a side of punk rock.
Mockingbird Hill, 1843 7th St. NW; (202) 316-9396; drinkmoresherry.com
Photo by Jessica Sidman