Penny Whisky Bar [Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, 618 H St. NW, open at 3p everyday] quietly opened in late May (with grand opening June 1st) in the heart of Chinatown, just steps from the Gallery Place Metro station. The bar/eatery is located on the 2nd floor above the longtime mainstay, Chinatown Garden, which shares ownership but is otherwise quite different. The “penny” theme is apparent upfront as the ground floor entry way’s floor is embedded with hundreds of pennies (I was told that the penny is a reference to some Chinese luck proverb).
The focus is on whiskey (duh) is shown on the menu, numbering 175 varieties (
though nothing incredibly rare including multiple Pappy Van Winkle’s); using Basil Hayden as the “rail” whiskey is a great touch ($5 during happy hour, which runs 4-7p). Happy hour also includes $4 drafts (hard to get a pint of Guinness that cheap elsewhere in DC) as well as $5 rails; all night specials for now include $5 Ciroc vodka and $3 Budweiser/Bud Light/Michelob Ultra/Shock Top cans. Food comes from Chef E Marshall, a previous contestant on MasterChef and a cook for celebrities.
I foresee this spot doing well with the diverse crowds that already frequent the spot as well as folks looking for cheap drinks before or after Verizon Center events but not in a divey atmosphere. The Hilton Brothers’ soon-to-open spots, the Crimson Diner + Whiskey Bar, is directly across the street in the Pod DC Hotel, however, so the competition will be fierce.
Drink menus and other pictures below: