This post has been updated.
Union Market's newest attraction is a paean to the simpler pleasures of summer in the suburbs. Wide banks of grass have temporarily been set up outside the market's front doors, covered with seats, lawn games and small grills used as tables. Nearby, bartender Gina Chersevani has set up shop in a converted 1960s Airstream trailer, serving up frozen drinks and ice-cold beers.
"I want to bring back all of the memories you had as a child but miss in the city," Chersevani says. "Sitting in Adirondack chairs with your feet in the grass, Weber grills, vacationing in an Airstream."
The Long Island native, who runs Buffalo and Bergen inside Union Market, dubbed her "art bar" project Suburbia, and it will be outside the market through July 11. Anyone who buys food from Union Market vendors is welcome to take a seat and enjoy the sun, play corn hole or, starting this weekend, badminton.
But the real attraction will be the Airstream, open Friday through Sunday, which is outfitted with four frozen drink machines. "I love frozen drinks, but except for the Slushitos at Estadio, it's hard to find fresh frozen cocktails," Chersevani explains. That's why her frozen pina colada is made with fresh chunks of pineapple and real coconut milk, and quality Chairman's Reserve rum. You can immediately taste the difference in the pina colada, or the blackberries that go into the Blackberry Margarita. (At $8, these are also less than most cocktails in this city, frozen or not.)
There's a non-alcoholic slushee for kids, which tastes like a Coca-Cola Slurpee from 7-11, and sells for $4. Adults can add rum to make a Cuba Libre, or bourbon to make a whiskey and Coke, for an extra $4.
Beers are available too, mostly domestic beers in tallboy 16-ounce cans, for $4 to $7, which includes a tall Suburbia koozie. Every weekend, a different local brewery will take over the taps inside the Airstream. Flying Dog had four ales last week for $7 a pop; DC Brau takes over this Friday. The bar is cash-only, but there's a caveat: If you withdraw money from the ATM inside Union Market and show the bartender your receipt, you get a free shot of your choice.
Chersevani plans to have different events running every weekend. This Saturday, former PS 7's chef Peter Smith will be manning a three-foot outdoor grill, cooking Red Apron burgers and hot dogs and other food from Union Market. In honor of Sunday's Israel@65 Festival, the Airstream will have a special frozen drink: A variation of the old-school Sangaree cocktail, with gin, brandy, fresh concord grapes, lime juice and Manischewitz wine. ("I want to call it the Oy Vey," Chersevani jokes.)
Friday nights will feature "industry night" in the Airstream, with guest bartenders making cocktails and serving beer; Patrick Owens and Ashley May, who created the Spirits in Black night at American Ice Company, are set for this week.
Amateur photographers, take note: Suburbia is running a daily Instragram contest. Every day that Suburbia is open, its staff will pick their favorite customer-submitted Instagram photo and give the photographer a $20 gift certificate to be used on their next visit. Photos must be tagged @suburbiadc to be eligible to win.
After July 11, Chersevani and her bartenders are hitching the Airstream to a truck and hitting the road. "We're going to go down to New Orleans for [the annual cocktail convention] Tales of the Cocktail, and then we'll come back and hopefully have a new space for it in August."
An earlier version of this post referred to plans for a farmers market outside Union Market, but details haven't been finalized.