Friday, May 3
Old Town Cocktail Week: Old Town Alexandria is better known for Irish pubs and seafood restaurants than its cocktails. The first Old Town Cocktail Week is trying to change that, with special drinks and events at two dozen restaurants and bars across the city. Highlights of the nine-day festival include the release of “Old Town Drinks,” a cocktail recipe book highlighting the city’s bars and bartenders (Tuesday); evening tours and a whiskey tasting at George Washington’s Distillery (May 10); a tasting and meet-and-greet with six Virginia-based distillers at Gadsby’s Tavern (May 11). Through May 11. Admission charges and food and drink prices vary by event.
Beyond the Julep: Mint and Historic Cocktails at the U.S. Botanic Garden: You might be sipping mint juleps this weekend at a Kentucky Derby party, but the U.S. Botanic Garden wants to expand your horizons about mint-based cocktails. There are over 7,000 species of mint, all of which have their own unique tastes and scents. This program will take a look at historic spirits and cocktails that have been made using the plant, and naturally, beverage samples are included in the ticket price, with finger foods. 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. $35-$45.
JID at the Fillmore Silver Spring: JID knows where he comes from, rapping “I’m from East Atlanta like Gucci and Travis Porter,” but origin isn’t destiny for the 28-year-old rapper. Instead of the moody trap rap that has become homogenized in his city and beyond, JID is finding his own path to stardom. He favors a ratatat, internal-rhyme-heavy flow reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar, and lush, jazz- and soul-inflected boom-bap beats. He raps that his “story is similar to the hare and the tortoise,” and with a spot on the XXL Freshman list and a deal with J. Cole’s Dreamville imprint, he’s winning the race on his own terms. 8 p.m. $30.
Spring Bonsai Festival at the National Arboretum: The National Arboretum is already one of the most overlooked “museums” in D.C., but the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum might be the best part of the scenic grounds. This weekend’s spring festival showcases a wide range of local bonsai growers, whose work will be on display. Vendors and experts will be on hand for those interested in creating their own bonsai tree, while paid workshops run throughout the weekend for anyone desiring more formal lessons. Through Sunday. Free admission; workshop fee: $75.
Flower Mart at Washington National Cathedral: Since 1939, the cathedral’s All Hallows Guild has hosted a Flower Mart to raise money for the cathedral’s gardens. While it’s still focused on blossoms — you can pick up new plants for your garden or just gawk at the display of picturesque flower arrangements in the cathedral’s nave — Flower Mart has also become a wonderful day out for families, with puppet shows, an antique carousel, carnival rides and games. Musicians and dance companies perform on the plaza in front of the cathedral, and those brave enough to climb the towers can take in one of the best views in Washington. Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free admission. Tours, carnival games and other activities priced individually.
Saturday, May 4
Kingman Island Bluegrass and Folk Festival at Kingman and Heritage Islands Park: For one weekend a year, the idyllic Kingman and Heritage Islands Park in the District turns into a bustling scene, with four stages of acts that lean folksy, such as headliners Dustbowl Revival and the Ballroom Thieves. Founded in 2010 to raise awareness about the park — and funds for Living Classrooms — the family-friendly event prides itself on nurturing regional acts, which this year includes D.C. soul band Oh He Dead, Virginia folk act Wild Common and Baltimore roots trio Wicked Sycamore. If you’ve never been, you might discover your new favorite local band — or a side of Washington you’ve never seen. Noon. $35.
Around the World Embassy Tours: Washington is one of the most international cities in the world, and it’s at its most global during the month-long Passport D.C. program. The two most notable events give Washingtonians a glimpse inside dozens of embassies: First, more than 50 countries, including Korea, Dominican Republic, Australia and Ethiopia, open their doors for the Around the World Embassy Tour on Saturday. Times and locations vary. Free.
Running of the Chihuahuas at the Wharf: If you’re in need of something beyond the usual taco and tequila specials to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, head to the Wharf to see one of the city’s quirkiest annual traditions: 128 chihuahuas racing one another for the ultimate bragging rights. In addition to the races (shown on a huge video wall) and an all-breeds-allowed dog costume contest, there will be also be a beer garden and live DJ. Proceeds from the event benefit Rural Dog Rescue. 1 to 5 p.m. Free.
D.C. Chocolate Festival at La Maison Française: There’s an elegant new home this year for the D.C. Chocolate Festival: Head to La Maison Française in Georgetown for a day dedicated to chocolate consumption. Chocoholics can taste samples, shop for chocolate and meet chocolate makers from the D.C. area and beyond. Round out the day with book talks, classes and movie screenings all about the sweet stuff. Wine and savory items will be on sale, too, if you need a palate cleanser. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. $20.
Kentucky Derby viewing party at Jack Rose Dining Saloon: Seersucker suits and colorful bow ties. Elaborately decorated hats. Dainty cucumber sandwiches. Ice-cold mint juleps in frosted silver cups. Sure, you could spend way too much money to enjoy all these things while watching the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Or you could go to Adams Morgan. The annual Kentucky Derby party at Jack Rose has blossomed into a tradition, from the prerace bourbon flights, juleps and punches to the staff passing out free sandwiches and Kentucky hot browns to guests. There’s no cover charge to hang out on the rooftop bar and watch the races, and cocktails run from $8 to $10. Try finding that kind of deal in Louisville. 3 to 7 p.m. Post time is 6:50. No cover charge. Food and drink prices vary.
More Kentucky Derby events: The annual “Bonnets and Bowties” party at the Willard Hotel’s Round Robin Bar has been running for 32 years. The $99 tickets include a southern-style buffet, mint juleps, unlimited beer and wine and entry in the “best bowtie” and “best bonnet” contests. The Red Derby also has a best hat competition, but its low-key Cinco de Derby, with all-day $5 bourbon cocktails and free Derby pie at race time, is a little more wallet-friendly. Capitol Hill’s Barrel has barrel-aged mint juleps and bourbon cocktails to go with a menu of Kentucky hot browns and Kentucky-style fried chicken, beginning at brunch. Rebellion and its similarly bourbon-focused sister bar Rebellion on the Pike are running all-day parties with discounted juleps, bourbon cocktails and a Kentucky-inspired menu. Both City Tap House locations are offering an open bar from 4 to 6 p.m. for $35 (reminder: the race starts at 6:50), and the Dupont branch starts with day with a “Down and Derby” drag show starring Ba’Naka at 11 a.m.
Sans Bar DC at the Viva Center: The number of bars offering nonalcoholic cocktails has noticeably increased in recent years, driven by a variety of factors: People are worried about their health, drinking less, and looking for something to enjoy on a night out that won’t leave them feeling like death the next morning. The Sober Collective — an aptly named organization of creative individuals living their best lives without alcohol — is hosting Sans Bar DC, a pop-up offering tastes of nonalcoholic shrubs, tonics and other cocktail alternatives from the likes of Element Shrubs and the Mocktail Club. The event includes food and drink samples, a DJ and tarot readings. 7 to 10 p.m. $35.
The Yawpers at Pearl Street Warehouse: On 2017’s “Boy in a Well,” the Yawpers told the tale of a boy who lives in France during World War I after being abandoned by his mother, using a concept album to process real-life fallout from childhood abuse and a failed marriage. Heady stuff, but perhaps not unexpected from a Denver psychobilly trio that takes its name from Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.” The Yawpers play blues like punks or punk like bluesmen, and on new album “Human Question,” they alternate between cathartic, raucous rockers and down-tempo diversions that slow dance through pain, each with their own kind of poetry. 8 p.m. $12.
Sunday, May 5
Cinco de Mayo parties at various locations: If you need an excuse to eat tacos and drink beer on a Sunday, you’re in luck, as Cinco de Mayo parties take over D.C. area bars. Taco Bamba is moving the party out to its patio, where $35 covers an unlimited taco and guacamole bar from 1 to 4 p.m. (An extra $35 adds unlimited drinks, too.) Both Mission bars are starting with bottomless brunches — that’s bottomless guac and margaritas — before the main event, with live music, food specials and discounted tequila shots and margarita pitchers. El Rey brings taco specials, a mariachi band and an ice luge to U Street (would you expect anything else)? If you’re up for some interesting people watching, head to the rooftop at Surfside’s Glover Park location for half-priced pitchers of margaritas and seasonal cocktails along with various food specials and live music throughout the day. For something completely different, DJs Divine, Miss H.E.R. and Cleveland Browne are throwing a Cinco de House party at Dew Drop Inn from 5 to 10 p.m., with special holiday drink specials on the outdoor deck until 7:30.
Out in the Mosaic District, B Side is converting into Anda’s Taqueria, where chef Nathan Anda is crafting a menu of street-food-inspired tacos, washed down with a selection of Mexcian-style craft beers. The newest addition to downtown Fairfax is the excellent craft beer bar, High Side, and it will host an outdoor beer garden that features surrounding eateries as well as games and live music. Rustico’s Alexandria branch will open up its outdoor patio for a special menu of Mexican dishes paired with local beers inspired by the country’s lagers, plus lawn games, live music and family activities.
Sundress Fest at Wonderland Ballroom: What could bring hundreds of sundress-wearing women and men to Columbia Heights on a Sunday morning? No, it’s better than brunch — it’s the Wonderland Sundress Fest. For 15 years, the neighborhood bar has been asking everyone to dress up and raise money for charity. This year’s anniversary party shuts down Kenyon Street to make room for three bands, DJ Keenan Orr, “four swimming pools of beer” (per organizers) and the annual runway show. Proceeds from the day — including the sales of sundresses to guys who need a last-minute outfit — benefit D.C. Central Kitchen. 11 a.m. to midnight. Free admission.
Pinko de Mayo at Primrose: The hashtag says, “May is for Rosé.” Brookland’s Primrose wine bar has decided to take that one step further and celebrate “Pinko de Mayo” on May 5. The party marks the release of vintage rosés from Lightwell Survey — a wine blender co-founded by Primrose owner/sommelier Sebastian Zutant — and Maryland’s Old Westminster Winery. Tickets include unlimited wine and snacks from Primrose chef Jon de Paz. 1 to 4 p.m. $65.
TR/ST at U Street Music Hall: As TR/ST, Winnipeg-born, L.A.-based singer-songwriter Robert Alfons makes black-clad music known by a handful of evocative genre signifiers: synth-pop or goth-pop, coldwave or darkwave, and so on. Whatever you call it, the music of TR/ST is built for darkened dance floors, Alfons’s haunting voice piercing through a veil of synthesized melodies and industrial, drum machine rhythms. On his first album in five years, “The Destroyer,” Alfons is aiming for epic, releasing the album in two parts. The first half percolates with hints of hope, but don’t worry: He has promised that part two will be even darker. 7 p.m. $17.
— Hau Chu, Adele Chapin, Rudi Greenberg, Fritz Hahn and Chris Kelly