Welcome to the Hotlist, a monthly preview of things to taste, see and do in the weeks ahead. Here's what's coming up in February.
A bar specializing in craft beer and craft whiskey, with building materials reclaimed from Virginia tobacco farms and Philadelphia warehouses, Highline RxR is the newest project from the owners of Penn Social and Jackpot. Located among the office buildings of Crystal City, it features floor-to-ceiling windows, paintings by local street artist Kelly Towles, a weekly whiskey special and a local coffee program that should make it a popular destination for Crystal City's growing tech community.
Highline RxR: 2010 Crystal Dr., Arlington (Metro: Crystal City).
Kapnos Taverna and SER
2015 is poised to be a very good year for Ballston diners. February will see two high-profile openings, beginning with the up-and-running Kapnos Taverna, an offshoot of Mike Isabella's Kapnos. In mid-February, a casual Spanish restaurant called SER will make its debut from a team of chefs and restaurateurs from Taberna del Alabardero. It gets even better later in the spring, when Isabella opens Pepita, a Mexican cantina, and Yona, a noodle bar with former Pabu chef Jonah Kim.
Feb. 7: D.C. Music Download Anniversary
A strong lineup of local artists will take to the 9:30 Club's stage to celebrate the third anniversary of the Washington-focused D.C. Music Download Web site. But D.C. Music Download isn't the only reason to show up: This 7 p.m. event serves as the official release party for psychedelic-meets-indie-rock band Paperhaus's debut album, with support from thrash-metal band Loud Boyz and the punky power-pop quartet Baby Bry Bry and the Apologists. The whole night's for a good cause, too: $1 from every ticket goes to the D.C. Public Library's new D.C. Punk Archive.
9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW (Metro: U Street). $16.
Feb. 8: Treat Yo’ Self Holiday Market
Don’t be the valentine staring at the dregs of chain pharmacy merchandise at 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 13. On the Sunday before Valentine's Day, Derek Brown’s trio of Seventh Street NW bars will host Treat Yo' Self, a market of local artisans from which to pick up gifts for your sweetheart, or yourself. Items will include cards, jewelry, boozy cupcakes, handbags, candy and more. Each bar will feature music curated by Brown, as well as food and drink specials from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Feb 8: The Passenger returns
While cocktail fans are waiting for the Passenger's owners to locate a new home for the much-loved bar, owner Tom Brown is getting the staff back together for a series of Passenger pop-ups. The first one is located at Bar 7, just a few doors south of the former Passenger, and Brown promises to fill the two-level space with live karaoke by the Hari Karaoke Band, classic Passenger cocktails, and (hopefully) a tiki bar in the basement from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. This is the first of three killer bar pop-ups this month, including a collaboration between Owen Thomson of Bar Pilar and Jason Strich of Hank's on the Hill at Saint-Ex on Feb. 15, and the beer-meets-cocktails "Best Friends' Gang" at 2 Birds 1 Stone on Feb. 17, with Adam Bernbach of 2 Birds and Greg Jasgur of the Oxbow Brewing Company.
Bar 7: 1015 Seventh St. NW (Metro: Mt. Vernon Square).
Feb. 17-March 22: 'Kid Victory'
Don’t expect anything safe from “Kid Victory,” which examines the aftermath of a kidnapping as the victim returns home to Kansas. Signature has already billed it as “chilling,” but musical theater buffs will want to risk it for a first look at anything new from the legendary composer, John Kander.
Signature Theatre: 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. $40-$95.
Feb. 20-21: Laser Cat
This meme-worthy event is one part 'SNL' sketch, one part arty dance party. A giant inflatable cat at the Yards Park will project crowdsourced art from its eyes, while musicians such as DJ Eric Hilton and Hungry Castle perform from 8 to 11 p.m. Admission is free, though registration is temporarily closed while organizers figure out their space limitations in the Mill Building, where the event will take place. Expect a lot of silliness and even more Instagrams.
Laser Cat: At the Historic Mill Building, Third and Tingey streets SE (Metro: Navy Yard). Free.
Feb. 22: Academy Awards
The only way you can be fully judgmental about the awards come Oscars night is by seeing all the contenders. Yes, even the obscure ones. (And frankly, sometimes the obscure ones are the best ones.) You can get your first exposure to the short films this week, with screenings of the live action and animated shorts at E Street Cinema and the documentary shorts at West End through Thursday. During the week leading up to the awards show, on Feb. 22, the Archives hosts screenings of each of the documentary contenders, and each of the shorts categories. This is the first year that you can actually reserve a seat in advance, which is an exciting development, but don’t get too excited. All of the seats have been reserved. Luckily there are wait lists for each of the screenings, or you can get there 15 minutes prior to showtime and try to snag a spot.
William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives: Constitution Avenue and Seventh Street NW. Free.
Feb. 25-March 1: DC Independent Film Festival
Winter is always a good time to seek shelter in a movie theater. The 16th DC Independent Film Festival is your annual chance to watch some films that are nearly impossible to see elsewhere. Be sure to check out "Snake River," a 30-minute film that can only be viewed through a special virtual reality headset. Filmmaker Emiliano Ruprah shot the movie with a special camera and rig to capture everything in 360 degrees. The film will be shown Feb. 27-28. Tickets range from $5-$25, depending on the event. Venues vary.
Feb. 27-28: D.C. Bluegrass Festival
For the fifth year, the D.C. Bluegrass Festival returns with a new lineup of national and regional bluegrass artists. Organized by the D.C. Bluegrass Union, this indoor festival will feature such acts as the Seldom Scene, the Bankesters and Blue Highway. Headlining this year’s festival are Jerry Douglas and the Earls of Leicester.
Sheraton Premiere Hotel: 8661 Leesburg Pike, Tysons Corner. $15-$95.