Anthony Fauci‘s face now adorns T-shirts, pillows, and even prayer candles. But in case there was any doubt that director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease has reached pop culture icon status, one DC restaurant is selling cocktails in “Fauci Pouchies.”
Capo Italian Deli—a sub destination near U Street with a backroom “speakeasy”—is offering the Capri Sun-like pouches for pickup and delivery on DoorDash and GrubHub. Each contains 14 ounces—just over two drinks—for $14. Beverage Director Rohit Malhotra says credit for the clever branding actually goes to a friend of his. Because the bar doesn’t have a lot of foot traffic, “we need to have something that’s going to stick out,” he says.
With budgets tight right now, Malhotra has had to get creative making cocktails with ingredients already on hand. The first “Fauci Pouchy”—a vodka mint lemonade—was born out of an abundance of citrus that needed to be used up. Yes, he took lemons and made them into lemonade, “which is kind of cheesy but it’s also what happened.” The barman is also making espresso martini pouch because he can get a longer shelf life out of cold brew and had a lot of Grey Goose vanilla. Other flavors include sweet tea bourbon and strawberry gin.
Malhotra says it’s possible that Fauci himself has directly encountered a “Fauci Pouchy.” He gave some of the cocktails to a neighbor who happens to work at the National Institutes of Health. “She said at the next board meeting, they’re going to show it to him,” he says. “I don’t know when their board meeting is.”
Regardless, the cocktails seem to be resonating with Washingtonians. On Saturday nights, Capo has been selling more than 300 pouches.
“This is the first time a nerd has become a rock star and a public icon at this level,” Malhotra says, Einstein excepted. “There’s a nerd culture in DC that’s embraced and loved, whether it’s politics or science or tech. But this has expanded beyond that.”