Hey guys, I know that this is kind of long (and some people don't like menus), but Frank Hankins from Sova has some pretty cool stuff going on over there, and he wrote an open letter about that I'm posting below. By the way, the Formosa rocks.-
Drinking on H St., NE just got a whole lot better.
Several months ago, I decided it was time to ante up and work with a consultant who could come in and overhaul the entire wine bar. Thanks to a number of the constructive comments I received on this site, and to some great customer feedback I received over the last year, that convinced me do it now, as opposed to waiting any longer. I wanted someone who could help create a better list of wines by the glass, but also keep the prices at a moderate price point. I guess you could say, I wanted a better selection of good value wines. In addition, I wanted to take advantage of my full liquor license and add a quality selection of spirits (no rail drinks).
What I initially envisioned, and what we now have today, as of 1 week ago, is beyond what I could have imagined. Thanks to a great customer who’s been in the food business for a number of years in DC, I mentioned my desire to him at the end of last year, and he said that he could recommend two people that I should talk to. He mentioned that they were both very well known in DC, and that it would cost me some money, but that they both could do a very good job of fulfilling what I initially had in mind.
After sending out e-mails to both of these gentlemen, I set up a meeting with the one who replied first and we met at Sova in early January. His name is Derek Brown. Derek has a resume that would make him very desirable for even the finest of restaurants in the city. And as a matter of fact, he’s worked at two of the best restaurants in DC. Derek was the sommelier at Citronelle for two years, and he was also sommelier at Komi for another two years. He’s one of the founders of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild (www.dccraftbartendersguild.org), and he’s now more famous because he’s the guy who’s behind the creative list of cocktails at one of DC’s hottest bars, The Gibson (at 14th & U Sts).
I was honored to even have Derek consider working with me, seeing as he doesn’t take just any job. He has a reputation to uphold, and he didn’t want to take on another job if he didn’t think it could work. At the time, The Gibson was about to open that weekend, and he made it clear that this was going to be his only other consulting job while The Gibson was getting ready for takeoff. Out of all the questions he had for me, the most important one was, am I willing to do what it takes financially and commitment wise to make this thing not only work, but be a big success. That also included him working with a committed staff he would have confidence in that could carry out this mission. I sucked it up and said I was on board. A few weeks later, he started on the path to create another one of DC’s best drink menus. He liked the idea of the wines we had, and decided we should create a drink menu of creative cocktails made with grape based spirits. After some initial discussion, it was decided that we could come up with a number of drinks made with different Brandy’s and Pisco’s. In addition, we would have a great selection of other spirits such as grappa, port, great scotch’s, vodka’s, bourbon’s and gin’s to name a few.
Flash forward to 6 weeks ago when we were trying to assemble our staff to carry out this mission. A gentlemen who had just moved to town from Portland, Oregon about a month before, and was one of the founders of the Oregon Bartenders Guild (www.oregonbarguild.org), befriended Derek and asked him about any places in town that would be interested in having someone of his experience. Derek recommended Sova and spoke to him about the project we had underway. A few weeks later after spurning other offers from more established restaurants and bars, Jamie MacBain was ready to accept the Bar Manager position at Sova. He liked the idea of starting with a place that had a clean slate, and where he could assemble his own staff and have more creative input at the outset. Jamie MacBain was most recently the Bar Manager at Park Kitchen in Portland, where he developed a great following because of his passion and insatiable appetite for great food, wine, beer, and spirits. We are so honored to have him here.
Oh, and about that second guy who was recommended to me several months ago as a person who could overhaul our program. His name is Dan Searing. He’s a good friend of Dereks and is also a member of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild. Dan is in the process of opening a wine bar with some partners in Columbia Heights called Room 11, but in the mean time, Derek asked him if he could help us get our program off to a great start. Dan has worked at Pharmacy Bar in Adams Morgan, The Looking Glass Lounge in Columbia Heights, and he started the now defunct Thursday Night Punch Club at the Warehouse Theater near Chinatown. We are so honored to have Dan here.
We have also assembled a great crew of other bartenders and staff to help carry out this mission, and we hope that you’ll come by to introduce yourself to our new staff, and partake in a great selection of drinks.
Having said that, here’s our initial list of wines, beers, and cocktails.
$11 NV Ewald Gruber “Punkt Genau” - Sparkling Grüner Veltliner
Means “On the Dot”. Delicate effervescence with the scent of freshly peeled apples and long finish that includes exotic
$9 NV Charles de Fère “Cuvée Jean-Louis”, Blanc de Blancs Brut - Ugni blanc, Colombard
Nuits St. George, Burgundy, France
Crisp apple aromas and some baking spice for good measure. Crisp on the palate where lime, green apple, and pepper
run the show.
$8 NV Marumoto “Hou Hou Shu” - Sparkling Sake
This quintessential sparkling sake can go toe-to-toe with champagne. A wisp of nigori with a delightful sparkle on the
palate. Great balance of sweetness and acidity.
$12 ‘07 Vincent Girardin “Les Vieilles Vignes” - Chardonnay
Saint-Véran, Burgandy, France
Lively, refreshing green apple and citrus characteristics. Excellent balance with a long finish. A rising star producer in
$10 ‘08 Crios de Susana Balbo - Torrontes
Alluring perfume of spring flowers, peach, apricot and a hint of citrus. On the palate the wine is dry, smooth textured,
layered, and succulent while retaining a sense of elegance.
$9 ‘06 Hope Estate - Verdelho
Hunter Valley, Australia
Intense floral aromas of orange blossom, guava, and honeysuckle with ripe citrus overtones. A clean finish of zesty citrus
$8 ‘08 Argiolas “Costamolino” - Vermentino di Sardegna
Intense, ripe nose with cream and peach aromas. Fairly full-bodied wine with a long, ripe finish. Perfect aperitif.
$12 ‘05 Massaya “Silver Selection” - Cinsault, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvèdre
Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Deep cherry red with a lovely nose of framboise that is a prelude to rich, cooked fruit and pepper.
$10 ‘07 Doña Paula Estate - Malbec
Dark and winey, with currant paste, cocoa powder and Turkish coffee notes backed by a solid grip on the fleshy finish.
Nice hint of grilled sage adds dimension.
$9 ‘08 Gaia “Nøtios” - Agiorgitiko
Deep red, with notes of butter, caramel, and gooseberry. Round body with delicate tannins.
$8 ‘08 Cono Sur - Pino Noir
Vallee Central, Chile
Bright red in color. Intensely aromatic. Notes of cherry, raspberry, and strawberry intertwined with softer traces of plum
and a subtler smokiness.
$8 ‘07 Luis Felipe Edwards “Reserva” - Carmenere
Colchagua Valley, Chile
Deep garnet. Butter roasted, caramelized nuts, and baked berry aromas. Finishes with a slightly spicy, tobacco wrapper
and mineral dust fade.
$5 Lagunitas, Czech-style Pilsner – Petaluma, California
$5 Bear Republic, “Racer 5”, India Pale Ale – Sonoma, California
$5 The Brooklyn Brewery, “Pennant Ale ‘55”, American Pale Ale – Brooklyn, NY
$7 Morland, “Old Speckled Hen”, English Fine Ale – Suffolk, United Kingdom
$5 Victory, “Golden Monkey”, Tripel Ale – Downington, Pennsylvania
$8 North Coast, “Brother Thelonious”, Belgian-style Abbey Ale – Mendocino, CA
$8 Delerium Tremens, Strong Pale Ale – Brouwerij, Belgium
$9 Chimay Blue, Strong Dark Ale – Abbey of Scourmont, Belgium
$6 North Coast, “Old Rasputin”, Russian Imperial Stout – Mendocino, CA
$5 Bells Brewery, “Kalamazoo”, Stout – Comstock, Michigan
$7 Young’s, “Double Chocolate”, Stout – Bedford, United Kingdom
$8 Kasteel, “Rouge”, Belgian Ale with Cherries – Van Honsebrouck, Belgium
Hand Crafted Cocktails
$8 Andes’ Sangaree – Carmenère, Crème de Cassis, Sugar, Lemon Peel
$11 Formosa – Ramos Pinto White Port, Hou Hou Shu Sparkling Sake, Orange Peel
$10 Vieux to a Kill – St. Remy XO Brandy, Old Overholt Rye, Coffe-infused Vermouth
$9 Original Sazerac – St. Remy XO Brandy, Sugar, Peychaud Bitters, Kübler Absinthe
$10 Red Lion – G’Vine Gin, Grand Marnier, Orange Juice, Lemon Juice
$12 Champs-Élysées – Hardy VSOP Cognac, Yellow Chartreuse, Sugar, Lemon Juice
$10 Coffee Cocktail – Ramos Pinto Ruby Port, St. Remy XO Brandy, Sugar, Egg
$10 French 75 – G’Vine Gin, Lemon Juice, Sugar, Charles de Fère Sparkling Wine
$14 Peruvian Pisco Tour
El Sarcay de Azpitia Pisco Acholado, La Caravedo Puro Quebranta Orgánico,
Viejo Tonel Moscatel
$16 European Brandy Tour
Poli Traminer di Poli Grappa, Castarède VSOP Armagnac Aged 10 years,
Hardy XO Cognac