Though it’s a collection unknown to most locals, San Francisco’s Bar 888 (located on the lobby level of the city’s downtown InterContinental San Francisco hotel) boasts one of the largest selections of grappa in the country. “Grappa is a grape-based pomace brandy that originated in Italy,” says InterContinental’s wine steward, John Wight. “It’s entirely different from any other distilled beverage because you’re distilling the stems, seeds, pulp and skins of the grapes — basically the essences of the grapes themselves.”
Bar 888 currently features nearly 150 grappa varieties, from floral-based moscatos to caramelly, amber-colored versions made from nebbiolo grapes, as well as bottles from California, Oregon and Argentina. (Unlike Champagne or port, the name grappa is not indicative of its place of origin.) The bar offers about a dozen grappa-based cocktails, such as the popular Eau de Vin — a dose of Aqua di Cedro grappa liqueur muddled with fresh blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and lime juice, served over ice. www.grappabar888.com.
Spirits in Supply
With more than 25 to choose from, Brooklyn’s Maison Premiere claims to feature the largest selection of absinthe in New York. Take yours with a sugar cube or in a cocktail. www.maisonpremiere.com
At Las Perlas in Los Angeles, choose from more than 200 types of mescal, including both highland and lowland tequilas.
Las Vegas Japanese restaurant Shibuya offers more than 100 different sakes for sipping, including three private-label brands.