Brisket and chopped liver at DGS Delicatessen’s new happy hour

February 12, 2013

You don't expect to get happy hour at a Jewish deli, but then again, DGS isn't your standard deli. Its happy hour, which kicked off yesterday, is one worth trekking to Dupont Circle for, no matter where you work.

DGS pickleback
The DGS pickleback includes a shot of whiskey, a shot of housemade pickle brine and a can of Genesee Cream Ale. (Fritz Hahn/The Post)

Food and drink deals are offered from 5 to 7 p.m. on weekdays in the narrow little bar in the rear of the first floor; you might have an easier time getting in if you enter via the secret-ish back door on 18th street, which leads straight to the marble-topped bar counter.

This is more of a snacking-and-grazing happy hour, but with five small-plate "noshes" for $5 or less, it's possible to fill up while eating well. The Fiery Brisket Balls – a trio of arancini stuffed with slices of brisket, hot peppers and spices – arrive on a plate drizzled with creamy yogurt sauce. The flavor doesn't come from nuclear wings-level heat, but smoky brisket and tangy peppers. (At three for $5, my friends and I were tempted to order another plate.) We easily finished off the creamy smoked salmon tartare, which comes with chunks of bagel to add crunch, but were far more impressed with the giant hunk of chopped liver, served with rye bread on the side. Correction: We were more impressed with the gribenes, or slivers of fried chicken skin, which stuck from the liver like fat quills. Crispy and buttery, they were the perfect scoops for snacking on the velvety liver. (I was almost sad when we had to switch to just scooping it onto rye.)

Pair the food with selection of five cocktails, including a zesty mix of Small's gin, fresh meyer lemon juice and orange bitters; and the brunch-worthy Le Marais, with sparkling rose, St. Germain and orange juice. (Both cost $7.) And while the pickleback may seem oh-so-2010, the one at DGS is above and beyond, as its made with the brine of the restaurant's sweet, piquant pickles. A shot of Jameson and a shot of brine will set you back $6; add a can of Genesee Cream Ale for another $3.

Drinkers who don't want spirits can still do well here, with a decent selection of wines by the glass for $6, including gamay and a grenache/syrah from France, and an Austrian sparkling rose. Beers are just okay, though: $3 for the Genny Cream or $4 for Lost Rhino Pilsner.

Seating is limited, though it opens up as 7 p.m. approaches. I'd recommend arriving as early as possible to get a seat – you're not going to share the chicken liver standing up.

DGS chopped liver
Chopped liver is spiked with gribenes -- buttery, crispy pieces of fried chicken skin that can be used to scoop up the meat. (Fritz Hahn/The Post)
DGS Fiery Brisket Balls
DGS's Fiery Brisket Balls are stuffed with sliced brisket, spices and hot peppers. (Fritz Hahn/The Post)
Fritz Hahn has written about bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. A product of Prince George's County public schools, Fritz majored in journalism at the University of Maryland and lives in the District.
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