Mari Vanna’s downstairs bar area is ready to go and decorated for the season. (Lavanya Ramanathan/The Washington Post)

Mari Vanna, the Russian-born, babushka-chic restaurant chainlet that is aiming to transform Dupont Circle’s dining scene when it officially opens Jan. 17, has decided to give Washington’s barflies a chance to get in early and get the buzz going. Bigger news: The bar, at 1141 Connecticut Ave. NW., will offer all you early adopters a free shot of vodka.

The three-story restaurant’s downstairs bar area (pictured) opened Thursday at 5 p.m. The bar will be open every day, except Sunday, from 4 p.m. until close, through its official opening, offering specials at the bar. Friday’s special will be $5 infused vodka shots from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

In addition to all the usual spirits, the bar is stocked for now with just three of the dozens of the infused vodkas the restaurant will eventually serve (the three you can try are honey and oat, horseradish and blackberry, pictured below). But don’t expect any of the blinis or Russian traditional dishes just yet. Those are likely to be on hold till opening day.

Before you go, be sure to check out our preview of Mari Vanna here.