Canned Espresso Martinis Are Now Available at Bar Spero
May 12, 2023 @ 10:00am
Blossom Beverages partners with Johnny Spero’s new Spanish-inspired restaurant to bring the ready-to-drink cocktail to fine dining.
There’s a perpetual tension between the old and the new underlying creative shifts reshaping the District’s service industry and entrepreneurial spirit. Shifts that, by any measure, are seismic.
The days of old-school steakhouses, cigar bars and haughty parlors being the vanguard are long gone. Today, there’s an unbridled proliferation of new, young and revolutionary mixologists, chefs and restaurants that delight patrons with bold new flavors, unique ingredients and innovative presentation techniques.
It’s no surprise that collaborations like the one between decorated Maryland-born Chef Johnny Spero and accomplished entrepreneur David Jack are emerging.
Chef Spero is the visionary behind the New American fare-oriented and Michelin-starred Reverie in Georgetown. His newest creation, Bar Spero, embodies the dynamic energy of D.C. downtown culture. It’s a seafood bar and grill designed in the mold of traditional open-fire grilling and freshly shucked seafood. Bar Spero is so D.C. — a pseudo-haven for the city’s contemporary class of worldly artists, dreamers and luminaries that’s unapologetic in its proportioned eschewing of tradition.
David Jack is a co-founder of Blossom Beverages and its flagship Blossom drink concept, the first ready-to-drink espresso martini dreamed up in D.C. The drink is popping up on rooftop bars, available at iconic clubs and music festivals and even Nationals Park.
Now, it’s inserting itself into Bar Spero’s unofficial happy hour that runs 5-7 p.m. Monday through Friday, exclusively at the bar. The happy hour also offers a curated selection of drinks and canned meats, inspired by Spero’s time working and living in Spain.
“Bar Spero isn’t a Spanish restaurant, but it’s inspired by my time living and working in Spain,” Spero says. “I’ve always had a huge foundation inspired by the new Spanish movement.”
As Spero and Jack describe it, their brands and this collaboration are perfect microcosms of D.C.’s evolved identity, a place that’s more than meets the perception.
“I launched a canned cocktail version [of the espresso martini] because I believe great products can be in very unique and interesting vessels, like a can,” Jack says. “It’s not about the vessel, it’s about the quality that’s inside.”
For Jack, this wasn’t about capitalizing on a trend. It was about creating a great product and making it available to as many people as possible. And by all accounts, as they’ve hit the road to showcase their drink in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston, they nailed the flavor — a buzzy, crushable drink made with cold-pressed espresso, chocolate, vanilla, cane sugar, a kiss of nutmeg and premium, small-batch vodka — and are shifting the paradigm.
The happy hour is an extension of that: creating a gastronomic vehicle that challenges the stigma of tinned seafood and meats, which, as Spero notes, the Spanish traditionally enjoy with vermouth.
Spero says that tasting the canned espresso martini helps break away from the stigma of anything in a can being bad, in the way we’ve been conditioned to associate canned seafood with Bumblebee tuna. He assures would-be patrons: This is a far cry from that.
“The one thing I’ve always loved is tinned seafood, which is all over every city in Spain and Portugal,” Spero says. “They get the best quality ingredients and they preserve it and can it.”
Bar Spero gets its canned seafood from Island Creek, a premier tinning company that sources its products from one of Spain’s best canneries. It’s a masterful balance between an epicurean, experimental and disruptive menu and experience design.
“Bar Spero is fine-dining, but it’s also meant to be a little more casual,” Spero says. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously. When people walk through [the restaurant] for dinner, you walk through the bar; that’s the only path into the dining room. When it’s filled with people crushing cans of cocktails and hanging out at the bar, it feels like you’re walking into a party and it changes the whole vibe.”
Jack agrees, noting Bar Spero and the duo’s collaboration represent the future.
“The innovation in the food and beverage scene post-COVID is beautiful,” Jack says. “It’s filled with new and fun ideas that are absolutely brilliant and I think the transformation is so evident. This small collaboration, this is the new D.C.”
Yet, Spero also adds that this isn’t about completely jettisoning the old.
“As you look at the greater spectrum of the food scene in D.C., you want things that are pushing forward and cutting edge and, you want fine dining and avant-garde, but then you also want safer choices — like Cheesecake Factory. We need that to exist so we can exist because we fill in the whole narrative of what the city is and what people want.”
The same is true of Jack, Blossom Beverages and its movement to democratize the espresso martini. You can still sit down at a conventional cocktail bar and order a drink. Ultimately, it’s about the diversity of experiences, without a fall-off from quality.
That’s the ideal happy medium in D.C.’s new creative ecosystem.
Visit blossombeverages.com to learn more about Blossom Beverages and follow them on Instagram @blossombeverages.
Bar Spero: 250 Massachusetts Ave. NW, DC; barspero.com // @barspero
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