Show of Hands, the hotly anticipated, low-ABV bar inside Capitol Hill’s the Roost, started pouring its first drinks on Wednesday, October 26.
The 12,500-square-foot culinary clubhouse’s cocktail-driven centerfold opens with a strong showing of herbal liqueurs and brown spirits to go along with 20 cocktails split across three categories: “refreshing and low-ABV”; “full proof and playful”; and “spritzy cocktails for late fall.”
Neighborhood Restaurant Group spirits director Nick Farrell spearheads the homemade spirits haven at the mega dining destination that started coming to life two years ago near the Potomac Avenue Metro (1401 Pennsylvania Avenue SE). The green-and-gold bar framed with bright light bulbs sits smack in the middle, joining existing vendors like Cameo Coffee, Slice Joint, Hi-Fi Taco, and craft beer bar Shelter. Hours for Show of Hands are 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. (closed Mondays and Tuesdays).
Show of Hands sticks to its original pre-pandemic plan: showcasing low-ABV cocktails built with spirits Farrell makes himself. The mixology master creates seven homemade liquors out the gate, including low-ABV chartreuse, Campari, vermouth, orangecello, and coffee liqueur. In-house spirits also make their way into its full-proof and rotating themed section, which kicks off with fall spins on summery spritzes.
“We’re using different flavors not normally incorporated in spritzes and expanding the definition of what a spritz is,” says Farrell.
Lambrusco and club soda are the fizzy factors in the “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” alongside the bar’s own orangecello and Amaro Dell’Etna. He picks a “cool, dry” blueberry wine from Maine as the sparkling component in a “Blueberry Crisp” next to bourbon and Greek digestif Rakomelo.
There’s also a whopping 175 whiskeys to choose from, along with a decent amount of amaro, aromatized wines, gins, and rums. The wait time for Show of Hands gave Farrell more time to expand relationships with suppliers and bulk up the opening selection, he says.
NRG, the Virginia-based hospitality group behind Bluejacket brewery, and beer-centric restaurants Birch and Barley, Rustico, and The Sovereign, teamed with real estate operators CAS Riegler and May Development in 2017 to assemble a dining hub comprised of existing NRG brands as well as outside chefs and operations.
While its brick-and-mortar bar waited to open, Show of Hands created a pandemic-era following with holiday tastings over Zoom, sending out bottled cocktails and mixers through Neighborhood Provisions, and offering online clubs and classes centered around amaro and whiskey.
“For us, it was creating a bar experience for people when they couldn’t come into one,” says Farrell.
At the Roost, customers can order from their phone and dishes and drinks are delivered directly to their table — making for a seamless, no-wait-in-line experience. There’s no food at Show of Hands, as there’s no shortage of options nearby.
“We found out the clientele likes to hang out a little while and try a few different things,” he says.
The Roost’s sole sit-down restaurant is chef Matt Adler’s essential Italian-American staple Caruso’s Grocery, which will expand to Maryland soon with an outpost inside NRG sibling Owen’s Ordinary in the Pike & Rose complex.