Cork Market & Tasting Room, a wine and specialty food shop, on 14th Street in D.C. is popular. I base this conclusion on the fact that it was packed the one time I went, this past Saturday, and the fact that the Washington Post covers it like mold on a hunk of cheese.
My impressions of the place? As you know, the wine doesn’t interest me, so I went straight for the small tins and tiny glass jars and carefully wrapped crackers. I found it to be a rather precious collection, a very expensive precious collection. Which means that it includes the requisite black truffle worship: An itty bitty jar of artichoke spread retails for $18, because 3% of it is the diamond shroom. And truffle butter, and truffle oil, and truffle salt, oh my!
What I’m about to tell you will save you between $20 and $50. Do not waste your time with truffle salt. It will impart no truffle flavor; truffle oil is superior. For a salt with punch, try a smoked salt like this Kentucky bourbon smoked salt. Yum!
And, so of Cork Market, I say too dark, too crowded, too expensive, although I appreciate the classes, tastings, and so forth. But I would appreciate them much more if there were no alternative in town.
A.M. Wine Shoppe on 18th Street in Adams Morgan is not as popular. This conclusion I base on the fact that it is empty every time I visit. Again, I pass by the wine, but I enjoy their selection of sliced meats and the free samples. I’ve always like the space—bright and open—and wished the owner, Justin Abad, also of Cashion’s Eat Place, well.
This Saturday I found the shop familiar (yes, empty), albeit with a shot of adrenaline in the arm. A.M. Wine Shoppe now carries a thoughtfully curated selection of liquor, including organic booze, white dogs, small batches, unusual mixers—basically covering all of the interesting things happening in liquor today. (Ask and you shall receive!)
Add to that our fearless and tireless tour guide, Andrew Akre, a few champagne flutes—the only way to taste, we are told—and several open bottles, and our group left lighter in wallet but with a new wealth of knowledge and spirits (both kinds). We were taken with a white un-aged oat whiskey from High West in Park City, UT; a traditional Kentucky bourbon from Corner Creek; Regan’s Orange bitters; Dolin Vermouth, both Rouge and Blanc; and a sweet, yet not cloying, and smooth, read: you can drink it straight, Italian aperitif called Amaro Montenegro.
A.M. Wine Shoppe also has wine tastings on Mondays—or any kind of tasting (hint: whiskey) any time you’d like—hosts White House meat-ups, and offers a neighborhood discount. Tough to beat a personalized, customized, and downright friendly experience like this one. I’m even willing to help make it a little more crowded.