Black Whiskey brings bourbon and bands to Logan Circle

May 3, 2013

Black Whiskey, which will celebrate its grand opening Saturday night, looks like it will be a refreshing change of pace on the packed 14th Street corridor. One floor is a dedicated whiskey bar, the other is an open-format event space that welcomes punk bands, DJs, artists, pop-up shops and small-scale dinner parties. The venue, which occupies the old Mar del Plata space near 14th and P, is a far cry from the recent spate of restaurants opening a few blocks away.


The bar at Black Whiskey features 60 different kinds of whiskey, 10 draft beers and a cocktail program created by Jack Caminos of the Brixton and Black Jack. (Photo by Fritz Hahn/The Post)

The upstairs bar is a stripped-down space with brick walls, exposed ceiling joists, and bar shelves built from old beams. Light pours in through large windows and a skylight during the day. Seating is a mix of barstools and low wooden benches, and the far end of the room has a free pool table with woven leather pockets.

At the bar itself, you'll find 60 American and Irish whiskeys, with a focus on small-batch bourbons and ryes. (Look for Dad's Hat, Noah's Mill, Elmer T. Lee and Smooth Ambler Old Scout, among others.) Ten taps include Lagunitas, Brooklyn and Bell's, for $6-$7 per pint. Next to it is an old-school carving station, where Kushi chef Darren Lee Norris – one of four partners in the business – will offer a chalkboard menu every night. Expect bacon-wrapped pork loin or slow-roasted beef, sliced to order, with a choice of sides including wild mushrooms, roasted root vegetables or parsnip apple cauliflower puree. A "carver plate" of meat and two veg costs $18. It's open for dinner now; lunch and brunch service should begin in June.

The first floor "Social Room" will be a multi-purpose venue, says Todd Ciuba, one of the partners in the venue. Beyond live music and art shows, there are plans for a regular "supper club" hosted by Darren Norris, some pop-up retail shops for local designers, and other events. Music is curated by Sasha Lord, who organizes shows at Comet Ping Pong. Saturday's debut features Deathfix, the'70s pop-rock band featuring Rich Morel (Blowoff) and Brendan Canty (Fugazi), and Paint Branch, the new project with former Q and Not U bandmates John Davis and Chris Richards. (The latter is, of course, The Post's pop music critic.) DJs Ian Svenonious (the Make Up) and Kid Congo Powers (the Cramps, Gun Club) will spin after the bands. From 7 to 9, the Transformer Gallery presents the opening of "Cult Fiction," a new art installation by Zach Storm and Cheyenne Lee Seeley.

On Tuesday, Sisu, a band featuring two members of the Dum Dum Girls, play an all-ages show, while Thursday is a release party for the new issue of Worn Magazine, with DJ Rex Riot, projected images from the magazine and all-night deals on whiskey cocktails.

But you don't need an event to stop in: The bar opens at 6 p.m. every day, beginning today.

Fritz Hahn has covered 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. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.
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