The deep-rooted Italian tradition of grappa-based drinks has surfaced in a new light in San Francisco’s Bar 888. Located on the lobby level of the InterContinental Hotel this grappa bar contains one of the most extensive grappa selections in the nation, and The Daily Meal was fortunate enough to get a peek into this well-regarded bar’s one-of-a-kind educational grappa tasting programs.
Grappa is a fragrant grape-based pomade brandy of between 30 percent and 80 percent alcohol by volume, so this tasting experience is an evening occupied with anything but dullness. If you are a guest of the hotel or a San Francisco local, these educational tastings can be designed to your tasting preference. For example, if you prefer sweet grappas as opposed to whiskey flavors, then you have a choice to focus on those — or vice versa.
They only take reservations for a maximum of eight guests, so you can be treated to 30 minutes with Bar 888 wine steward John Wight to learn about grappa in tastings of two flights. Regular wine tastings are available upon reservations as well.
"Grappa is as distinctive and rare as wine is in certain regions," says Wight. "Most grappas are from Italy and they’re very representative of the regions they come from. The grapes are locally sourced and are distilled in the region they’re grown in. Our goal is to educate people on the misconceptions and distinctiveness of grappa."
Wight works with bartenders to develop innovative and stimulating drink creations for the grappa connoisseur; patrons of Bar 888 will never want for creativity.
Some of the highlighted drinks include the Italian Mojito made with honey and lemon verbena-infused grappa mixed with fresh mint, sugar, and lime juice.
Another is the Chamomile Crush, made with Marolo chamomile grappa with organic agave nectar and orange blossom water.
Do yourself a favor and stop by Bar 888 to taste some delicious cocktails and educate yourself about the grappa world.