City Paper is not for tourists
The Drink: “Vino Verde”
The Location: Café Atlántico, 405 8th St. NW, (202) 393-0812
The Price: $9
The Buzz: Sitting at a near-empty bar in Penn Quarter’s Café Atlántico, I skim the specialty cocktails disappointedly. I came for the cotton-candy martini, but the bartender says they no longer have it. I’m sure it’s not called the cotton-candy martini; I don’t actually know what it was. All I know is that at dinner here once I had a drink, which started with a martini glass filled with a puff of cotton candy—like stuff that dissolved as the bartender poured the liquor over it. I expected it to make my teeth ache and was shocked when it didn’t. I returned to explore this drink further, but instead, I’ll explore the pear vodka phenomenon. The “Vino Verde” is a play on the vinho verde, literally “green wine,” that comes out of Portugal. It’s a young wine that’s known for its crisp, refreshing taste. Café Atlántico’s variation combines an albariño, an aromatic Spanish wine full of fruits, Absolut Pears, and lime syrup. It’s garnished with a dried lime leaf that’s green-brown and looks like a beetle doing a back float in my drink. From the lime syrup (I hope) there’s black specks floating throughout the liquid as if the bartender topped off the drink with a twist from the pepper grinder. The true shock, though, is that the white wine and vodka mix well. The nose of the wine reigns, and if I close my eyes I can believe I’m about to take a sip of wine. The peaches and citrus of the wine mix with the pear to make a drinkable fruit basket. But it’s an experience I can enjoy for only a few sips. Like the icing on a store-bought cake, the sweetness becomes too much, and I have to power through the rest of the drink as quickly as possible, with aching teeth.