It was lunchtime on a recent Thursday and I was stumped. A friend visiting from out of town had texted me, asking: “What’s a good place to drink on a rooftop right now?” Completely out of ideas, I instead pointed him to solid patios that I knew were open like Duke’s Grocery and DC Reynolds.
Afterwards, using RockTheRoofDC’s near-comprehensive guide to DC rooftops as a starting point, I confirmed that museum/Mall-weary tourists, conventioneer truants, and local workers with more “flexible” summer schedules had few partake on roofs or similar elevated outdoor drinking areas: out of the 60-odd bars/restaurants in DC with such outdoor spaces, only FOUR are even open before 4p on weekdays, and only two of them, both in Georgetown, are open before 3p. Of course, if one wants to drink alfresco closer to the ground, there are a number of solid patios that are open during the day on weekdays, just not that many roof decks (although the majority are open during the day during the weekend). The short, but sweet, list of places to day drink on a roof during the week:
The subterranean Dupont sports bar Buffalo Billiards is throwing a bash this Saturday, May 17th to celebrate its 20th anniversary. From 2-8p, there will be specials each hour from a different brewery/liquor company. 20th anniversary can coozies will be given away and hot dogs will be grilled on the patio (weather permitting). Details (from DC Beer) on specials and prizes below (the 4-5p hour seems the best):
$2 Miller Lite and Leinenkugel Summer Shandy
Nats tickets & other prizes
$2 Corona and Corona Light
raffle for a bike & other prizes
$2 Flying Dog Easy IPA
Flying Dog brewery passes & Flying Dog summer concert series tickets
Brewery trip prizes & more
$2 Heavy Seas Loose Cannon
Heavy Seas Aniversary cask with Loose Cannon, columbus and citra hops, apple wood and hard maple available
Rebellion (website, Facebook, Twitter) – 1836 18th St. NW (at T),a new whiskey-focused Dupont bar, officially opens its doors on Tuesday, May 13th, after soft opening to the public on Friday. Previously home to a series of Asian eateries (memorably Straits of Malaya from 1989-1999 & 2004-2010, and less memorably Zabb and Mum Mum), the transformed space sits directly across 18th Street from the uber-popular Lauriol Plaza margarita/Mexican behemoth but aims to be a neighborhood spot. The menu boasts 50 types of bourbon and whiskey, a lengthy list of craft beers, a number of $10 & $12 cocktails, and Southern-inspired food. The bar (Rebellion’s photo gallery from the soft-opening gives a great tour of the space) features a tremendous rooftop complete with its own dedicated bar. Rebellion features some extended happy hour specials (3:30-8p M-F; $5 house wines & rails; $3 domestic cans; 1/2 price bar bites) and daily specials like 10% off for locals on Mondays, 25% off whiskey on Wednesday & $2 off craft beers on Thursdays.
Rebellion’s opening comes in the midst of a transformation of one of my favorite areas of DC; the blocks of 18th Street between S & T Streets now feature the affordable cocktail spot Bar Charley, the solid Dupont Market deli/sandwich spot, Mandu for Korean dumplings, Rosemary’s Bistro with its great patio, the hordes who frequent Lauriol Plaza and spill out onto its sidewalks, Rebellion, and possibly a new bar-Saloon 45-in an old flower shop. Unlike Bar Charley, Rebellion will not face a fight to open later hours; Mum Mum’s liquor license, which allowed full late closing hours, carries over (although the rooftop and sidewalk cafes will have to shut down by midnight each night, similar to neighboring spots).
If you have recovered from Derby festivities, Cinco de Mayo is on Monday. Plenty of establishments (Mexican or not) are hosting celebrations (many already started); details below. Good round-ups at Washingtonian, the Post, the City Paper.
The Kentucky Derby, the most famous horse race in the world, is this Saturday, with a post time at 6:24p. Many DC bars are hosting watch parties (one is even doing a listening party as it has no TVs); it’s always a good excuse for day-drinking and dressing fancy. We’ve compiled a list of these events from the Post, BYT, Washingtonian, InTheCapital, Zagat, and Urbandaddy, along with our own research. These are helpfully organized by how much mint juleps will cost during the festivities, so you can know where to get your julep on (though likely the pricier juleps have higher-quality bourbon).
Red Derby (ColHi): 11a-7pish, $3 bloody mary’s & mimosas, free derby pie at 6p
DC’s best brewery, 3 Stars Brewing Company (not just according to me-see the City Paper’s nod), hopes to finally release its first bottled beer in the next 4-6 weeks. This is one of the many tidbits Barred in DC learned while chatting with the brewers at the recent Tap Takeover hosted by the Dupont restaurant Scion. Ten beers from 3 Stars were offered ($4-4.50 during HH, $8-9 afterwards); Barred in DC was able to sample seven (whoa! on a school night, no less) of them over the course of the evening. All were great (tasting notes about these beers at the end of this post). We also snagged some swag including a t-shirt and a mesh cap.
We chatted at length with co-owner Dave Coleman, who shared the news about the bottles; the first beer may be one of its darker beers such as the Pandemic Porter or the Southern Belle brown ale. They’ll be large-format beers (750 mL) and likely be topped with corks and cages. The bottles will be first offered only to members of its beer club (Illuminati Reserve Society), and may be offered to public afterwards (let’s hope!). Later, a tallboy can of the incredible Citra & Lemon Peel Saison may be canned.
Dave also spoke at length about the benefit of collaborations with other brewers or restaurants (as several of those on tap were): they’re fun to do, help spread the hard labor around (often cutting the brew day in half), and provide new brewers a kick-start before they can set up their own equipment (3 Stars worked with Evolution and Oliver Ales in collaborations before releasing its own stuff). Currently, 3 Stars is doing a cool collaboration with Pizzeria Paradiso inspired by the great writer/thinker Dante. This 9 part series has already kicked off (the first one was The Moon-featured at the Tap Takeover; next up is Mercury-both inspired by Dante’s Paradiso). The goal is to culminate with a college lecture.
The folks from 3 Stars were very friendly; Dave also shared an amusing story (ask him) on how 3 Stars monitors social media, including the popular Untappd app, has evolved over the past few years they have been in business. We had a great time and highly recommend that you make to one of the many events Scion hosts (always a good crowd, but never so packed you can’t move).
Some notes of each of the beers we sampled in pints, snifters, tulips, pints & smaller snifters:
Samsquanch w/ lemon peel (cask)
White IPA / 5.8% ABV
Very drinkable even for non-IPA drinkers
This version was only cask available so may not be available anymore
Danny Greene (Oxbow collaboration)
Imperial IPA / 8%
Very hoppy; let the aroma prepare and forewarn you
Paradiso: The Moon (Pizzeria Paradiso collaboration)
Saison w/ sour orange / 5.5%
slight tartness that refreshes more than dries palate
served in tulip glass so nose is just as happy as your mouth
From Russia with Love (Meridian Pint collaboration)
Imperial Stout / 8.2%
front-end chocolate flavors melt into a back-end coffee taste
Rye saison / 5.3%
liked this a ton
buttery, like a smooth Chardonnay of beers
Imperial porter / 9.6%
big, bold bitter flavor
epitome of imperial porter
pretty balanced, sweet and creamy
Brown ale w/ pecan / 8.7%
aroma of sweet syrupy nuttiness of pecan
fresh, crisp, very sweet
wait for wave of pecan to wash over you in after taste
The Gryphon, the short-lived Dupont sports lounge in the old Heritage India space, is set to reopen in mid-May. The spot, from the folks behind Lost Society, was only open for about 3 months (March-June 2013) before closing for “renovations.” An announced October reopening came and went.
According to a story from the City Paper’s Young & Hungry blog, The Gryphon was being retooled to downplay the unsuccessful sports bar element (which I witnessed firsthand) and be more like a steakhouse like Lost Society.