Show of Hands Finally Opens With Infused Spirits and Low-ABV Cocktails

The cocktail bar is the latest addition to the Roost food hall on Capitol Hill.

Barman Nick Farrell is showcasing many low-ABV cocktails at Show of Hands. Photograph by Kori Margaret.

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Barman Nick Farrell has been on a long quest to decode, then recreate, the secret recipe for Campari—the herbal Italian liqueur brand that’s synonymous with negronis. The Neighborhood Restaurant Group spirits manager has spent years sussing out different ingredients and tinkering with various infusions and extractions. He’s since landed on his own version with neutral grain spirit and a little grape brandy mixed with 20 botanicals including gentian root, cinnamon, clove, various citrus peels, and other herbs.

The Campari copycat makes its way into a negroni riff with coffee-infused gin, smoky hickory bark syrup, and coconut water at Show of Hands, the long-awaited bar inside Capitol Hill “culinary clubhouse” the Roost. It’s just one of the infused spirits, liqueurs, and aperitifs that Farrell has concocted—some of which are used to help develop the menu’s wide selection of low-ABV cocktails.

Take, for example, Farrell’s lower-proof take on the centuries-old recipe for Chartreuse liqueur, which can clock in at 55 percent alcohol. His is diluted with a tea and steeped in botanicals like lemon balm, coriander, anise hysop, and different types of mint. The spirit is combined with mezcal for a play on a “Naked and Famous” cocktail that Farrell has dubbed… “Mostly Clothed and Locally Well Known.”

The menu is divided into three sections: “full-proof and playful,” “refreshing and low-ABV,” and a rotating category which currently highlights late fall spritzes (all $14). Forget Aperol and Prosecco: “The spritz menu expands the definition in in ways about what a spritz can be by swapping in unconventional wines,” Farrell explains. For example, one of the spritzes uses a dry blueberry sparkling wine from Maine combined with bourbon and a honey-cinnamon liqueur.

Going forward, Farrell is looking to swap the spritzes for cocktails centered on sherry or vermouth. (Yep, he’s making his own vermouth.) The bar also stocks a selection of 175 whiskies, plus wines by the glass and bottle.

While the majority of the Roost operates with QR code ordering, Show of Hands will be an exception. You have to order at the 17-seat bar, however, you can bring your drink to tables throughout the food emporium. A separate cocktail menu via beer bar Shelter is available for anyone who wants to stick to QR code ordering.

Farrell started selling bottled cocktails under the Show of Hands brand during the pandemic and continues to do so through NRG’s delivery service Neighborhood Provisions. (What you find on the bar menu, however, won’t be the same as what’s bottled up to-go.) But the bar itself has been continually delayed due to staffing struggles and other NRG re-openings, like Vermillion and ChurchKey, that have divided Farrell’s attention. 

“I had a vision for what I wanted it to be a long time ago,” Farrell says. “But we wanted to do it the right way and make sure that when we opened something, it was going to be good and going to be what we wanted it to be. So here we are.”

Show of Hands. 1401 Pennsylvania Ave., SE.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.