City-State Brewing, [Twitter, website, Instagram] which has had a name, a concept, a brewer, and some home-brewed beers since at least October 2016, has signed a lease to open in Ivy City in spring/summer 2019. City-State, which comes from James Warner, is slated to open in the Hecht’s warehouse development from Douglas Properties. Eater (Warren Rojas) reported in April 2017 that the brewery has been looking for a 30-barrel, 10,000 square foot facility.
According to its website, City-State claims to be the first all-bottle lineup in DC (though surely will sell draft beer via kegs) with 11.2 oz. Steinie bottles to differentiate from competition. The line-up is slated to have at least 5 different beers: an Abbey Dubbel, Dark Wheat, IPA, Saison, and a Maibox (all with great names and labels)
Warner has partnered with Mothersauce Partners and Nick Freshman, who co-owns Spider Kelly’s in Ballston and has partnered to open up the new The Eleanor in Noma.
As mentioned above, this spot has been in the works for a couple years as Warner and partners (some awkward back-story here) have looked for investors.
Once this spot opens a year or so from now, City-State will join DC’s other production breweries with sales off-site, after DC Brau, Atlas, 3 Stars, Hellbender, Right Proper, Bluejacket, and likely the new Red Bear coming to the old Uline Arena in NoMa (now known for REI), RIP Chocolate City!
Tiki Trail DC (Website, Facebook, Instagram) returns to DC for a month-long celebration of tiki starting Wednesday August 1st, ending Friday August 31st. The treasure hunt has grown 50% from last year, to 12 bars (listed below). A free map is available at each of the bars; with a tiki drink purchase, each bar will give you a clue. When you get all the clues from all spots, the secret location and accompanying invitation will be unveiled for the end-of-the-trail luau held in September. Portion of proceeds will go to Island People Recovery, aimed to helping Puerto Rico recover from devastating Hurricane Maria.
The Tiki Trail is the brainchild of the management team (including The Trusted Barman, Brian Nixon) from McClellan’s Retreat & Truxton Inn; this year the signature presidential/political tiki mugs from sister spot Barrel/PoliTiki will also be available for purchase at McClellan’s Retreat & Truxton Inn as well (you can see some of those mugs featured at McClellan’s Retreat above; note that if you order any drink in the mug a deposit will be required).
This morning, Jessica Sidman of the Washingtonian reported that the folks behind the awesome Columbia Heights Laotian restaurant, Thip Khao, were opening up a 3rd (1st is in Seven Corners in NoVa) restaurant somewhere in DC this fall. The owners did not reveal the neighborhood or the name of the restaurant, which will have a completely different menu than Thip Khao and will seat 40-50.
A reliable source* informs me that this spot will be coming to Shaw, around 7th and Q NW. The new place will almost assuredly be in the 1st floor space at 1604 7th St NW, directly north of Dacha. Dan Silverman posted scuttlebutt in summer of 2016 that a Lao noodle shop would be coming to this very space; it does not appear that particular concept will be coming, but should be exciting nonetheless. A building permit (Excel link alert) for restaurant build-out was issued in fall 2017 to Bobby Pradachith, a Thip Khao co-owner/chef. This source also informed me that neighbors should expect longer hours (lunch? breakfast?) with an expanded focus on cocktails, which J Sidman also reported.
For NoMa/east siders who saw my earlier Tweet , there still may be good news. Last week, ABRA approved (see p 24) a tavern liquor license transfer application for a spot called Laos in Town in the Loree Grand building at 250 K St NE. The only retail spot in the building, TD Burger, which opened in 2013, appears to be closed (phone is disconnected and online orders are no longer available), so perhaps another Laotian spot is coming to town. The only other place to get Laotian food, the food truck Sang on Wheels, apparently stopped serving earlier this year (Sang is now on scissors at the Dupont Hair Cuttery).
* “Reliable” meaning I have never met this person nor know their name. They did tweet at me once. I think this checks out though.
You’ve probably read Lavanya Ramanathan’s fun article posted this morning (July 10th) on the Washington Post’s website. The article, entitled “As D.C. dive bars go extinct, summer interns find Washington less welcoming” is notable for both its thesis that there are fewer cheap intern bars for young adults to get their swill on for little money as well as fulfilling the newspaper’s destiny to make sure Democracy does not die in Darkness to unmask the name (though still sounds made up amirite) of Barred in DC (me and PFTCommenter-RIP Eric-have a lot in common). Excited to be in the Post after nearly a 5 year hiatus.
But is the concept true? My quotes are legit, though I also told Lavanya in same conversation that I don’t actually know if there are that fewer intern bars. Instead it just feels that way because 1) there are wayy more nice cocktail / beer bars that don’t cater to 21-24 year olds and 2) people who feel this way have gotten older and stopped going to those cheap bars so we don’t necessarily know where the interns are/or going. Younger folks still make it to the newly re-opened Sign of the Whale, Madhatter, and Front Page in Dupont, Dan’s Cafe in Adams Morgan; Hamilton’s Bar & Grill ($1 PBR & High Life all day Friday), Tortilla Coast, Bullfeathers, Capitol Lounge, and Union Pub on the Hill (and probably others, again, as the piece said, I don’t really goto those bars that much anymore). Dirty Water, the new ramshackle Boston sports bar in mid H St NE is run by the folks who used to run Rhino Bar in Georgetown and offers a $20 open bar from 7-10p on Fridays during the summer and specifically markets to interns. Sure, McFadden’s, My Brother’s Place, Brass Monkey/Roxanne’s/Spaghetti Garden, Millie & Al’s, Chief Ike’s, and Asylum have shut down, but there are still spots there.
Also, one quibble with headline and some of the language in the story: intern bars aren’t necessarily really all “dive” bars, instead more typically 24 years and younger meat markets with sticky floors and dancing areas with cheap drinks. All in all, it’s worth reading and discussing at the bar with your fancy $14 cocktail or $9 local craft beer, like my friends did over text/e-mail/Facebook.
P.S. Also, if you’re a fake journalist or not a journalist and are curious how the sausage is made: I got an e-mail out of the blue from the reporter 3 weeks ago asking if I had time to chat about the intern bar scene and how it’s dissipated. I replied saying I would be happy to chat but I bet her co-worker Fritz Hahn would know better or just as well as me. She still said she wanted to get my perspective and we had a nice phone chat for 10 minutes the next day. I’m guessing this is the norm (and I have no problem with it) for fun, trend pieces like this but I got the sense she already had an angle (intern bars are disappearing) and was trying to nudge me with her questions to agree (which I did, at least for some of the quotes you see).
Mrs. Barred in DC and I recently spent an amazing couple days over the July 4th holiday in the other Portland, the one in Maine. Hopping a $200 non-stop flight from DCA on American Airlines (you can also drive there in 10 hours or so from DC), we found a more blue-collar/hipster town (lots of tattoos and cigarette smoke-smelling Uber/Lyfts) than expected with fantastic food and beer, beautiful views, and friendly locals. Here are some recommendations/thoughts:
There are a ton of breweries in Maine, many of them in the Portland area. The breweries not only focus on the now ubiquitous hazy New England IPA but also lots of Belgian-style ales (saisons, farmhouse ales and the like).
Allagash -You’ve surely drunk their famous Belgian White. Stop by the brewery about at 15 minute ($12 Uber/Lyft) ride out from downtown to sample the other popular saisons, sours, farmhouse ales and other Belgian-style beers in pretty fancy digs. The free 1-hour long tour is popular and available daily. We got the $5 pre-set flight (changes regularly but likely always comes with the White)-4 3 oz. pours. $4 pours of all beers are available (6 oz-10 oz. usually) with $2.50 half pours.
Bunker – In isolated area in Libbytown west of downtown (about 10 min/$8 Uber/Lyft). Located in 1920s-era garage (no A/C so sweltering when we went). Ping pong table is nice.
Shipyard – A few blocks east of downtown. Not necessarily a “cool” brewery but we had the most fun there at Maine’s #1 by volume brewery. Lots of fun merchandise, several sodas on tap for the kids, and a mix of NE IPAs and fruited beers (the latter from Sea Dog Brewing which it owns and brews).
Oxbow Blending and Bottling – Best beer we had in Portland. Technically brewed about an hour away with some finishing done at the location. Great farmhouse stuff. In the heart of the Munjoy Hill neighborhood, walkable from downtown or $6 Uber/Lyft. 4 oz. pours $2-3, 8 oz. pours $3.50-5, 12 oz. pours $5-7.
Sebago – Local brewery chain in the bottom of a Hampton Inn. ($3.50 pints available on Wednesdays) Spot to wait while waiting for seats at Eventide (see below)
Gritty McDuff’s: Brewpub in heart of downtown. Mugs adorned on the wall. Beer isn’t remarkable but convenient location $5 pints at HH.
Spots we didn’t visit:
Note that across the street from Allagash are a number of microbreweries (Definitive, Battery Steele, Foundation) and a distillery (New England Distillery). Geary is also walking distance from Allagahs. None of these were open when we visited (we went on the 4th) but I’ve heard several are great.
Walking distance from downtown (in addition to Shipyard, Seabago, and Gritty’s mentioned above). Next door to Oxbow is Maine Mead Works and Hardshore Distilling and less than 10 minute walk away is Rising Tide Brewery and Maine Craft Distilling. A bit further are Urban Farm Fermentory (Gruitt), Lone Pine, and Goodfire. Also right in heart of downtown is Liquid Riot Bottling, which serves its own beer and liquor. Elsewhere in the greater Portland area are the acclaimed Bissell Brothers and many other breweries (see map)
Portland has incredible food. Although there are tons of options, most spots don’t accept reservations and we had to wait for tables on a random Thursday afternoon (albeit July 4th week) at 2pm.
Eventide Oyster Bar – Cool, tiny spot east of downtown. Fantastic famous brown butter lobster roll and incredible selection of oysters. Great cocktails as well. Super popular – we had a 90 minute wait on July 3rd at 8:30pm
Central Provisions – Recent James Beard nominee for Best New Restaurant, inventive spot in heart of downtown. We had an awesome fried pork special.
High Roller Lobster Co. – Recently a food cart, now a popular brick and mortar spot. Very popular, sort of decked out a dinner. Great $19 lobster roll
Duckfat – Amazing duckfat-fried frites available at original location near downtown or in patio area of Oxbow. Recommend the donut holes as well. More substantial meals available at old location.
Holy Donut – Super popular (20 minute wait in line when I went) spot cranking out tasty potato donuts until they sell out in early afternoon. Honestly, I would say a bit overrated, we enjoyed Duckfat’s donut holes better.
The Gelato Fiasco – Gelato spot right with tons of varieties.
Spots We Didn’t Visit But Were Recommended: Hot Suppa!, Empire Chinese, Petite Jacqueline, Fore Street, Scales, Bayside American, Bite into Maine, Miyake, Street & Co., Hugos, Slab, Otto Pizza, Walters, Bao Bao
Get started early, as bars have to close at 1a every night.
Novare Res Bier Cafe – hidden off alley/parking lot in downtown, spot sports a huge beer list and large beer gardne
Union – Restaurant with great cocktails in the stylish Press Hotel.
Amigo’s – Although this is your typical trashy kind of scuzzy meat market bar, the deck out back is perfect for live music (most nights/week during summer). Had a ton of fun.
Pearl – nightclub downtown. Entertaining late night.
RiRa – bar right off water, good spot for pre-cruise beer (local Portland breweries on tap)
Bars We Didn’t Visit But Were Recommended: The North Point, Bull Feeney’s, The Portland Hunt + Alpine Club, Petite Jacqueline, Bearded Lady’s Jewel Box, The Snug
Things to Do
Since we were there over the 4th, we took a booze cruise on the Casco Bay Lines ferry. $30 for a 3.5 hour cruise, cash bar (cash only but $6 pints of Allagash White and $5 rails), and the legendary(?) DJ HAUNT (also known as “Dave”) who entertained the mostly 40s/50s somethings with 70s music and other not-so-fresh hits. Amazing fireworks though (the Portland show off the East Promenade is over a half hour long followed by another 10-15 minute show closer to downtown). We also sailed with the Portland Schooner Co.; $45 for a relaxing 2 hour sail the next morning. The Casco Bay is beautiful with a couple forts, other islands, and lighthouses to see.
We stayed at Hyatt Place Old Port due to its convenience and fact it only cost 12,000 Hyatt points a night. (transfer from your Chase Sapphire card). Free hotel airport shuttle saved us about $15/each way. Would recommend.
We just had a drink there, but the Press Hotel near the Portland City Hall in downtown is awesome. The hotel used to be the offices of the local newspaper and they went all out with the theme. If you are really into newspapers, highly recommend staying there or stopping by.
If you want to stay closer to all the close-in breweries, the Hampton Inn and Residence Inn are good bets.
Idle Hands [Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, 1236 H St. NE, open at 6p, est. 2018] is a solid addition to H Street from Hill bar owner Erik Holzherr. Idle Hands comes to the space that was the super (overly?) chill Church & State. Erik also ran Church & State so the space is still recognizable and many of the cool church-like touches (like windows and the confessional room off the bar) and the relative lack of light remain. Think board games (available for rent for a few bucks except from 6-7:30p M-F and Sun when they’re free), a few arcade games you can sit your drink on, video games. Unlike Church & State, which offered great cocktails which took forever to make, Idle Hands menu is simplified, with a list of 7 quick and easy (but still tasty) $9-11 cocktails named after late 80s/90s movies, 2 housemade shots (“fireball” & “coffee liqueur”), about 14 types of canned/bottled beer (mostly around $7), and wine ($8-11/glass). Happy hour runs 6-7:30p M-F and Sun with a buck off wine and beer and $5 off bottles of wine.
Holzherr made the place much livelier, enlisting his friend to create speakers made out of cardboard and pumping out 90s tunes. You could call Idle Hands a more adult/less divey version of Atlas Arcade downstairs (also run by Holzherr, who appears to own the rowhouse, as he does his SE gin joint Wisdom).
Also, you may have heard the controversy stemming from marketing materials/interviews which talked about the bar being a “sexy nerd bar,” Drunken Twister (which incidentally may be hard to play since space is so tight) and infamously, the “casting couch” (Read DCist, WCP). The bar was blasted in social media and in Frozen Tropics blog comments, which led to a post by Erik on The Hill is Home blog apologizing but defending himself from the “anonymity of the Internet.” As someone who has met Erik many times (I live near Wisdom and am a lifetime member of the bar’s Gin Club), the vibe people are getting from those descriptions is different than the super chill, laid back dude I’ve met, so I’m giving the benefit of the doubt, but I understand if others are not.
Tuesday night, Initiative 77, the ballot measure to gradually eliminate the tipped minimum wage by 2026 in DC, passed 55% Yes to 45% No with about 1 of 6 DC registered voters weighing in. This will go to Congress for a 30-day review period; DC Council still has the power to overturn or modify it (Barred in DC expects this to move forward, with modifications/extensions/exemptions. Nearly unanimously opposed by restaurants/bars and seemingly by servers and bartenders as well, many folks believe this will lead to closed restaurants, lost shifts, and less tips. For more/better analysis, read Jessica Sidman, Laura Hayes, and others.
An overwhelming majority of the precincts in DC supported Initiative 77, though most seem to have results close to the relatively slim margin of the entire city. Strong support (60%+) was found in far NE near MD border and particularly in SE east of the Anacostia. Majority surprisingly supported in AU Park, Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom, and Kalorama (how did the Obamas vote?).
Neighborhoods which a majority voted No roughly align with the neighborhoods the few Republicans in DC can be found. Still, only Spring Valley, Wesley Heights, and Georgetown had “No” votes exceed 59% of the vote..
Areas which voted against Initiative 77:
Mass Ave Heights
Van Ness (west side)
Adams Morgan (Kalorama Triangle)
Much of Capitol Hill (south of Union Station, near Cap Hill South metro, Eastern Market, Barracks Row, a sliver northeast of Lincoln Park)