WASH March 2011 : Page 134

food drink | spirits Libation Salvation Holy spirits ! Church and State doles out all-American booze among the pews. | By Kelly A. Mag yarics | | Photography by SOTA Dzine | Depending on your ideolog y, imbibing relegates you to eternal damnation… or offers fast-track access to the man upstairs via a sip of divine wine. No matter your belief system— or lack thereof— a new church-inspired Atlas District watering hole will have you raising a chalice in worship of the perfectly made potable. “I wanted to build a church to American cocktails and have a bit of fun with it,” explains bartender/owner Erik Holzherr. The 33-year-old former Air Force officer and GPS launch manager has opened Church and State (1236 H St., NE, 202.399.2323) , which completes the holy trinity began by his other venues, Wisdom and Fruit Bat. W hile not intending to expand his bar repertoire with another location so soon, Holzherr believes that fate landed him a spot on H Street—not to mention the attention of financial backers. At Church and State, Holzherr whimsica lly drills home a pious bias with dark woodwork, pews, stained-glass windows and a foot rail fabricated from a kneeler. A confessional offers privacy for doing penance for last night’s transgressions. A nd the illicit feel of the cozy, adjacent pastor’s room lends itself to more lascivious thoughts. But make no mistake, as the lounge’s tag line declares, “This is not a Church, and DC is not a State.” The District’s contentious battle for statehood notwithstanding, the drink focus here gives a nod to a most decidedly all-American invention. “The resurgence of the craft-cocktail culture is no secret, but many people do not realize the cocktail’s completely A merican origins,” notes Holzherr. “We are a very young country with few outstanding traditions, so we need to be proud of this history and embrace it.” What sets Church and State apart from other serious cocktail dens in DC and beyond is its exclusive use of A merican bottles on the back bar —booze, brews and wine. The patriotic philosophy also lets the bar showcase artisanal spirits from small-batch distilleries, including Colorado’s Leopold Bros., Bluecoat from Philadelphia and Virginia’s Catoctin Creek. “Small-batch products, besides being rare and unique, are almost always crafted with care. I feel I am in the unique position to bring these well-made spirits directly to the people.” When he isn’t thrilled with a commercial product, he makes it himself, including sweet and dry vermouth, grenadine, ginger beer and tonic. 134 | Yankee DuDe-lY Church and State’s faithful founder erik Holzherr has created an all-american cocktail emporium in the atlas District. Anyone can read a histor y book and tr y to recreate it. To create a truly special bar, I think you have to put drinks on the menu that are found nowhere else in the world. The bar’s Bill of R ights lists 10 tipples that Holzherr claims all A mericans have the God-given right to have made perfectly. Concoctions on the permanent house-specialty menu include a Sophomoric Sa zerac, which adds a romatic hibiscus liqueur to the New Orleans classic; a riff on a Moscow Mule with 4 Orange vodka and a lime-ginger soda; and the applejack-based, oft-forgotten, yet elegantly simple Jack Rose. A rotating Seven Deadly Sins menu allows staff to flex their A merican ingenuity and showboat their skills. “It is important to pay homage to the past, but anyone can read a histor y book and try to recreate it. To create a truly special bar, I think you have to put drinks on the menu that are found nowhere else in the world.” B ot h t h e c o c k t a i l s a v v y a n d t h e c o c k t a i l ne w bie a re welc omed i nto t he floc k at t h i s i r re verent ly re verent H St re e t lou n g e . For f a it h f u l a nd s k e pt ic a l b e l ie ve r s a l i k e , it ’s wor t h losi ng you r rel ig ion for C hu rc h a nd State’s promise of liqu id rapture. | March /April 2011

Food Drink Spirits

Kelly A. Magyarics

Anyone can read a history book and try to recreate it. To create a truly special bar, I think you have to put drinks on the menu that are found nowhere else in the world.

Libation Salvation

Holy spirits! Church and State doles out all-American booze among the pews.

Depending on your ideology, imbibing relegates you to eternal damnation… or offers fast-track access to the man upstairs via a sip of divine wine. No matter your belief system—or lack thereof—a new church-inspired Atlas District watering hole will have you raising a chalice in worship of the perfectly made potable. “I wanted to build a church to American cocktails and have a bit of fun with it,” explains bartender/owner Erik Holzherr. The 33-yearold former Air Force officer and GPS launch manager has opened Church and State (1236 H St., NE, 202.399.2323), which completes the holy trinity began by his other venues, Wisdom and Fruit Bat. While not intending to expand his bar repertoire with another location so soon, Holzherr believes that fate landed him a spot on H Street—not to mention the attention of financial backers.

At Church and State, Holzherr whimsically drills home a pious bias with dark woodwork, pews, stainedglass windows and a foot rail fabricated from a kneeler. A confessional offers privacy for doing penance for last night’s transgressions. And the illicit feel of the cozy, adjacent pastor’s room lends itself to more lascivious thoughts. But make no mistake, as the lounge’s tag line declares, “This is not a Church, and DC is not a State.” The District’s contentious battle for statehood notwithstanding, the drink focus here gives a nod to a most decidedly all-American invention. “The resurgence of the craft-cocktail culture is no secret, but many people do not realize the cocktail’s completely American origins,” notes Holzherr. “We are a very young country with few outstanding traditions, so we need to be proud of this history and embrace it.”

What sets Church and State apart from other serious cocktail dens in DC and beyond is its exclusive use of American bottles on the back bar—booze, brews and wine. The patriotic philosophy also lets the bar showcase artisanal spirits from small-batch distilleries, including Colorado’s Leopold Bros., Bluecoat from Philadelphia and Virginia’s Catoctin Creek. “Small-batch products, besides being rare and unique, are almost always crafted with care. I feel I am in the unique position to bring these well-made spirits directly to the people.” When he isn’t thrilled with a commercial product, he makes it himself, including sweet and dry vermouth, grenadine, ginger beer and tonic.

The bar’s Bill of Rights lists 10 tipples that Holzherr claims all Americans have the Godgiven right to have made perfectly. Concoctions on the permanent house-specialty menu include a Sophomoric Sazerac, which adds aromatic hibiscus liqueur to the New Orleans classic; a riff on a Moscow Mule with 4 Orange vodka and a lime-ginger soda; and the applejack-based, oft-forgotten, yet elegantly simple Jack Rose. A rotating Seven Deadly Sins menu allows staff to flex their American ingenuity and showboat their skills. “It is important to pay homage to the past, but anyone can read a history book and try to recreate it. To create a truly special bar, I think you have to put drinks on the menu that are found nowhere else in the world.”

Both the cocktail savvy and the cocktail newbie are welcomed into the flock at this irreverently reverent H Street lounge. For faithful and skeptical believers alike, it’s worth losing your religion for Church and State’s promise of liquid rapture.

Read the full article at http://digital.modernluxury.com/article/Food+Drink+Spirits/652747/62459/article.html.

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