Club Heaven and Hell, the long-time Adams Morgan club (opened around 1991), suffered a massive blow last week when the DC Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) fined it a whopping $90,000 and suspended its liquor license for 90 days (November 1st-January 29th). This is believed by Barred in DC to be a record fine by ABRA (Halftime Sports Bar was fined $60,000 in Dec 2018, and never re-opened) and record liquor license suspension (though ABRA has revoked liquor licenses before).
The severe punishment mostly results, coupled with a history of violations, from an August 2018 incident where the bar illegally outsourced its security to a promoter of a live music event and violated the terms of its mandated security plan. Specifically, it allowed the promoter to check IDs and control ingress/egress into the club (per DC law, bars can rent out their spots to a promoter but the licensee must control the bar and security staff) and it did not have two bouncers and check everyone’s IDs as it opened (as required by its security plan). Also, the infamous “Yellow Death” cleaning fluid Long Island Iced Tea incident was factored in the penalty: the bar owner admitted accidentally adding Yellow Death cleaning fluid (instead of sour mix) in the drink in November 2018. The bar wasn’t actually punished directly for the mistake by ABRA; instead it was docked because it failed to fill out an incident report and log it in its security log as required by the security plan.
All the ABRA commissioners present found Club Heaven and Hell to be liable, though one recommended revocation of the license. The huge fine and lengthy no booze sales outage (which likely means closure during the period) may be crippling for a bar (known for 80s Dance parties on Thursdays)-it might not reopen. Thus, it’s likely that a motion for reconsideration and/or appeal to DC Court of Appeals will be filed shortly. Stay tuned.
Brass Monkey aka Spaghetti Garden aka Roxanne’s aka Peyote Cafe, the legendary Adams Morgan meat market, has been fined $30,000 and has had its liquor license suspended for 30 days for failing to keep books and records and qualify as a restaurant. The collection of connected bars in adjacent 18th Street rowhouses has been a rite of passage for many 22-24 year olds who have come to DC in the 15 years. The fine is the 2nd biggest Barred in DC can recall, and the longest liquor license suspension, which will be served beginning Sunday November 27th through right after Christmas, in recent memory. The fine/suspension cannot be a shock to many, as it’s unclear the last time the bars actually served food (Yelp reviews indicate perhaps in 2009 there was a menu).
Barred in DC has put in a request for more details on the fine and suspension and will update this post.
Yet another pop-up bar has opened above the still-open Rendezvous Lounge(2226 18th St. NW at Kalorama Rd). in Adams Morgan. Broken Dreams’ Club, run by Sam Gordon,has been open since mid-October on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights in the second floor space recently occupied by Dr. Clock’s Nowhere Club and MiG Bar. This “fun, artsy” spot opens its doors at 6:45p those nights and features cool DJs and artists and a $6 Natty Boh + shot of whiskey combo.
Jack Rose, located at the far southern end of Adams Morgan at its border with Dupont and U Street, is my favorite non-dive bar in DC. With frequent events at any of its 5 bars spread over 3 floors, the whiskey-and-beer-centric bar from Bill Thomas (owner of both locations of Bourbon) is a great place to drink all week long.
My visits to Jack Rose are usually spent at its second-floor Open-Air Terrace bar, reached by the stairwell that greets visitors at the front entrance (the folks who make up the fast-moving line that often forms on weekends are typically waiting to go up here). This expansive rooftop space, carved out of the second floor of a former boxing gym, can be enjoyed all year long; the long bar that occupies one side of the space is covered by a permanent roof, while the other half, with high-top tables, can be covered by removable glass panels when it rains or the temperature goes down. The wall to the north provides a great view of 18th Street and the rest of the Adams Morgan neighborhood (sometimes clear plastic panels are hung to protect folks from wind and cold) . A host of craft beers (mostly $7-8) and cocktails can be ordered from the friendly and knowledgeable bartenders, who do a great job of taking orders even when the place gets crowded, as it often does on weekend nights from 10p-1a. The crowd upstairs skews slightly younger than the rest of Jack Rose; but the lack of cheap beer (often only 1 light beer available) and other typical 18th Street specialties (I overheard a bro and his young lady friend lamenting the lack of Red Bull on a recent visit) means that this bar isn’t overrun with 22 year olds like the rest of the hood further north. Tasty bites cooked on the wood-fired grill upstairs can be ordered earlier in the evening if hungry.
Two more smaller bars also make up the second floor. To the front sits the enclosed Balcony Room, which contains a wood-burning fireplace, its own bar and outdoor veranda overlooking 18th Street, and often serves as the location for private events; while in the back, past the restrooms, is the cozier open-air seasonal Tiki Bar (at least during late summer/early fall 2013), with décor and drinks to match, along with an unique view to the east and south .
The more sedate Dining Room on the first floor is impressive for the shelves and shelves of booze (mostly bourbon and other types of whiskey) that line its walls, evoking the coolest library ever. Many of the reported 1,600 different kinds (“the largest publicly available collection of whiskey in North America” according to one report) of whiskey that Jack Rose possesses are on these shelves. Because it’s more relaxed than upstairs, this is a better place to sample some of the amazing spirits on offer. A dining area makes up two-thirds of the room, separated by a railing/partition from the long bar makes up the rest; I could do without this partition, which forces patrons at the bar to squeeze into a smaller space when crowded.
Those looking for an even more intimate whiskey experience should check out the recently opened Whiskey Cellar, reached by going down the stairs at the back of the Dining Room. This cozy basement space is only open Thursday-Saturday evenings, but is quickly becoming a favorite spot to sample whiskey (bourbon on tap is offered) and spend time in an even more relaxed environment.
If you visit, you’ll frequently spot an older gentleman who looks like Father Christmas with a long hair and beard; this June 2011 Washingtonian profile on this man, Harvey Fry, who supplied around 1/3 of the whiskeys for the bar, is well worth the read. Also, Jack Rose makes great use of social media to advertise its many events; I’m an especially fan of the colorful, informative posters it produces to provide event details.
Although the place (especially upstairs) can get crowded, the lines that often form on weekends are an annoyance, and (most selfishly) it opened up right after I lived less than a football field away (you can spot my house’s old rooftop from the Balcony Room), Jack Rose is well worth a visit.
Kind of a neighborhood landmark (look for the topless redhead mural and the other random mystifying murals along the block), this sprawling bar is known for its nightly live music, including regular blues. There’s a stage and a dance/listening floor right when you walk in, along with a couple other floors (one with pool tables) including a tiny fire escapeish front balcony (awesome for checking out the 18th street crowd) along with another roof deck wayyy at the top that feels like a crows nest on a ship that is usually enclosed (it might open up during the summer, never been there when it is has (3/7 Update: Reader says that it opens up in summer). Fun spot with a relatively older crowd in its current location since 1997, though beware that there usually is a cover on weekends due to the live music. One of my friends likes the soul food. Supposedly redheads drink beer for ½ off, but as I am not a redhead, I can’t confirm. The owner is not a fan of Adams Morgan Day.
Opened back in 1992, this basement pool hall/game room bar feels miles from the bedlam of 18th Street a block away. Bedrock, which was the first bar in the mini-chain that now includes Atomic Billiards, Buffalo Billiards, Rocket Bar, and Board Room, is reminiscent of someone’s 1980s somewhat dusty basement. I’ve only been here twice, and not since probably 2009, but I remember lots of pool tables, darts, and board games and a solid divey atmosphere. They have a popular Sunday night trivia that is supposed to be kind of hard. Happy hour goes from 4-8p M-F and 1-7p on the weekends, along with some pool and darts leagues during the week, though I’ve never been.