by: Amy Ciarametaro
Who says sommeliers can’t talk cocktail shop? They’re just as geeky (if not more) than most of the mixologists I know. Maurice “Mo” Cherry is the Wine Director for the highly acclaimed Ripple in Washington, D.C. He doesn’t like to brag, so I’ll do it for him and the restaurant. Where shall I start?
Ripple just won Wine Program of the Year at the RAMMYS, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s annual gala; Executive Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley was nominated TWICE for Rising Star Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation, and placed third runner-up on the 13th season of Top Chef. Spoiler alert, she was robbed on Top Chef! I have a bone to pick with Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio… but I’ll save that for later.
Mo has been with Ripple on and off for three and a half years, along with stints at Mario Batali and Nancy Silvertin’s Osteria Mozza and with Gordon Ramsay in Los Angeles; Fabio Trabocchi’s Fiola Mare and Chef Cedric Maupillier/Saied Azali’s Mintwood Place in Washington DC. Though he first got his feet wet while working in restaurants as a dishwasher at the age of 14, and was allowed to do prep work at a restaurant inside Prince George’s Stadium, a Minor League Baseball park in Bowie, Maryland.
Laird’s Longboard, featuring Laird’s Applejack Brandy
1.5 oz. Laird’s Applejack Brandy
0.75 oz. Fresh lemon juice
0.25 oz. Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
0.50 oz. House-made gooseberry/lavender shrub
1 Egg white
Ripple offers the complete dining experience, with a focus on sustainable, organic and locally-sourced produce and products. Not to mention, the restaurant has an epic wine list, thanks to Mo. They have over 800 wine labels on their list. Trust me, I counted. And 70 of those wines are under $50 per bottle. That’s unheard of in Washington, D.C.! Mo has spearheaded much of that effort, and he’s taking his beverage experience one step further into their cocktail program. He explains, “The upcropping of #VaSpirits is definitely evident here at Ripple, which works perfectly. We don’t carry big name brands behind our bar. With a regularly rotating list of cocktails, we enjoy having fine artisan products at our disposal.”
Mo is a consummate supporter of all things Virginia. In closing, he shows his ”Virginia spirit” by saying, “It’s all about locality, place, and passion, and Virginia has all three.”‘
*Rapid Fire with Mo Cherry of Ripple*
#VaSpirits: Where were you born?
Mo: I was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in College Park, Maryland.
#VaSpirits: Give us a glimpse of your daily routine.
Mo: I admit that I am a bit of a coffee snob, so I make the trek from Northeast D.C., to Georgetown for Intelligentsia coffee (I became hooked while working in Los Angeles).
#VaSpirits: When you’re not in the wine cellar or behind the bar, what do you enjoy doing?
Mo: Being a former chef, I cook at home quite a bit for friends. I am also a huge movie buff.
#VaSpirits: When you’re not drinking Virginia spirits, what do you enjoy drinking and why?
Mo: WINE! I am a sommelier, after all. ?
Photo credit: Jay Paul