The scene during the cherry blossoms' peak bloom last year at the Tidal Basin. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Alas, the prospect of a lush peak bloom has been thwarted by the recent weather in Washington, meaning the cherry blossoms won't totally cooperate with this year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival, running Saturday through April 16. On Friday, The Post reported that about half of the city's cherry blossoms had been damaged. The National Park Service estimates most of the remaining buds will fully bloom by the end of next week.

The news isn't all awful. There are so many blossoms along the Tidal Basin that spectators can still be in for a beautiful sight. Plus, there are plenty of other ways to commemorate the blooms.


The Cherry Blossom Pub in Shaw comes from the same folks as the Christmas bar. (Farrah Skeiky)

Visit the Cherry Blossom Pub. Through April 15, neighboring Shaw bars Southern Efficiency and Mockingbird Hill will host this themed pop-up. The more classic of the rooms has fake trees lining the wall, colorful paper blossoms hanging overhead and a painting by local artist Maggie O'Neill showing cherry blossoms framing the Tidal Basin. The other is an immersive space inspired by “Super Mario Brothers.” The playful cocktails nod to both the cherry blossoms' Japanese roots and Italian amaros. 1843 Seventh St. NW.

Catch a performance at the Tidal Basin. Performances begin Saturday at the Tidal Basin Welcome Area and ANA Performance Stage. They run daily from noon to 6 p.m. through April 2. The mix includes everything from R&B and drumming to Zumba and a swordsmanship demo. 1501 Maine Ave. SW.


Cherry blossom-themed doughnuts from Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken. (Rachel Lyn Photography)

Try cherry blossom-inspired food and drink specials. Specials pegged to the cherry blossoms are often a stretch at best, but why get worked up? They give chefs and bartenders an excuse to play around with new creations, which are often cherry-flavored or at least beautifully decorated with blossoms. Here's a sampling.

Food

  • Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken has a cherry blossom doughnut ($3.50; cherry jam filling, cream cheese glaze and cherry blossom design). 1308 G St. NW; 7511 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church.
  • Buttercream Bakeshop will offer lemon cupcakes with sour cherry pie filling and Japanese matcha buttercream ($3.50). 1250 Ninth St. NW.
  • Cherry desserts are on the menu at Fabio Trabocchi's restaurants starting early next week. At Casa Luca, expect an amarena cherry and orange blossom soft serve ($9). Fiola Mare offers a cherry and orange blossom frozen dessert ($16), or spumoni, and Sfoglina participates with a vanilla-cherry soft serve swirl ($9). Casa Luca, 1099 New York Ave. NW. Fiola Mare, 3050 K St. NW, Suite 101. Sfoglina,  4445 Connecticut Ave. NW.
  • Amarena cherries grace desserts at two of Michael Schlow's restaurants. At Casolare, they crown a three-scoop gelato sundae along with almond crunch, whipped cream, caramel and chocolate sauce ($10). At both locations of Alta Strada, cherries form part of an almond tartlet with other seasonal fruit ($10). Casolare, 2505 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Alta Strada, 465 K St. NW and 2911 District Avenue, Suite 150, Fairfax.
  • Marcel's gets whimsical with a torchon of foie gras with cherry cotton candy that resembles blossom-like puffs (offered as part of the tasting menu, $95 to $155). Plus, when you lift the cover, you'll be greeted by cherry-wood smoke. 2401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
  • RareSweets has a cherry blossom cookie made with a chocolate shortbread base topped with royal icing and floral decorations ($3.65). 963 Palmer Alley NW.
  • Tico's Media Noche ($17; available March 15 to 29) is an ode to a Cuban sandwich with two cherry accents along with wild boar belly: a cherry cola glaze and Morello cherry mustard. 1926 14th St. NW.

The Rickey-San cocktail, offered at Bar Dupont during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, is made with a matcha green tea soda. (Courtesy of Bar Dupont)

Drinks

  • Toki Underground has unveiled a new program of rotating sake flights. The first, which costs $20, includes four selections: Konteki Tears of Dawn, Tentaka Hawk in the Heavens, Tozai Snow Maiden and Funaguchi Green Can. 1234 H St. NE.
  • City Tap House is known for its craft beers — there are 40 on draft — but through April 16, the focus is also on Japanese whiskey. There are two flights to try, with selections from distilleries including Nikka, Suntory and Shinshu, each costing $25. One is a trio of peatier, smokier styles, while the other mixes smoother, more traditional whiskies. 901 Ninth St. NW.
  • Bar Dupont — now under the direction of Justin Abad, formerly of Cashion's Eat Place — has four special drinks on its menu from March 20 to April 30. The Rickey-San is a twist on D.C.'s native cocktail, the Rickey, but with a house-made matcha green tea soda ($14), while the Island de la Juventud combines tiki ingredients (Smith and Cross rum, orgeat) with Japanese whiskey by Nikka ($16). Can't decide? Go for the beer-and-a-shot combo featuring Stillwater's Extra Dry, a saison brewed with rice to provide sake-like notes, and a pour of Suntory Toki whiskey ($13). 1500 New Hampshire Ave. NW.
  • On March 22, District Chophouse brewer Barrett Lauer will unveil his annual Cherry Blossom Fest beer, a wheat lager made with sweet Oregon cherry puree and tart Wisconsin cherry puree. (The balance of the two keeps the beer from becoming too sweet and dessert-like; Lauer says he added more tart cherries this year to increase the acidity of the beer.) A pint costs $6.25. 509 Seventh St. NW.
  • Pizzeria Paradiso locations will feature seasonal beers on tap from March 22 to April 5, including Oliver's Cherry Blossom Wheat Ale and, for those who prefer gluten-free options, Original Sin Cherry Tree Hard Cider. Pair either with a pizza topped with prosciutto, Italian cheeses, dried cherries and a cherry cream sauce for $14 (small) or $20 (large), or a cherry tiramisu for $5. Multiple locations.

This post has been updated.

Read more:

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Where to see the cherry blossoms without huge crowds

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