With Lo Spiedo's opening less than a week out and friends and family previews scheduled throughout the weekend, Vetri family beverage manager Steve Wildy and head bartender Stephen Warner (formerly of Osteria) are ready to show off everything they've been working on behind the bar. Or almost everything — the house-made amaro "needs another month or two in the barrel," Warner says. "It's still a little rough at the moment."
For the Navy Yard space, which is expecting to do much of its business at lunch and happy hour, the task at the bar was to keep it concise and accessible but still varied, with some interesting low-alcohol and alcohol-free options. Warner says he's involving the kitchen and doing more from scratch than ever before, as you can see on the menu posted below.
In addition to the amaro, that means doing their own tonic water (flavored with gentian root — a flavor familiar from things like Angostura bitters and Aperol — and cardamom) and ginger beer, which is very lightly alcoholic, not too spicy, and will be served on its own or as the base for other drinks, including shandies and floats. Their bloody Mary mix, featuring smoked tomatoes, can be had with or without vodka.
For Lo Spiedo's take on milk punch, Warner says the inspiration came from the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves that go into cotechino sausage — "but instead of pork, we put them into applejack." The final product is light, warmly spiced, sweet but still quite clean.
For something a bit boozier and far more savory, Lo Spiedo's take on a Martinez departs from tradition (which would call for maraschino liqueur and hints of orange) and employs a tincture of porcini mushrooms and a touch of sesame oil. It's something that can stand up to the steak coming out of the kitchen, Warner says — but even on its own, it carries with it some of the satisfaction of red meat.
Not spotted: much in the way of decorative garnish. The gin and tonic will get a lime on the rim for the sake of tradition, but it's dried — Warner says their tonic already has enough citrus in it that a squeeze of lime would be overkill.
As far as wine goes, about a dozen are available by the glass, including four on tap (two white and two red). On the bottle list (which, like the food menu, is heavily but by no means dogmatically Italian), Wildy was especially interested in highlighting minerality with a number of selections from Etna.