Paradise in a Parking Lot?

Local resident and blogger FrenchTwistDC offers her abbreviated review of the NY Ave Beach Bar below. For her full posting visit this link.

The Triangle is definitely not just parking lots anymore… the parking lots have turned to condos and high end apartment buildings. And a beach! In what has to be the most creative use of an empty parking lot, Tom Brown, co-owner of The Passenger, has covered an underused asphalt area with 70 tons of sands (from Ocean City we hear… so kind of locally sourced right?) and opened the most anticipated outdoor bar of the summer. The New York Avenue Beach Bar officially opened Friday night, with Mayor Gray cutting the ceremonial ribbon (and sticking around for a few rounds of corn hole) and over 700 people showed up for $10 rum cocktails and lukewarm canned beer ($5-6 each). That was definitely more than the owners expected or were prepared for ;-)

Mayor Gray playing corn hole - picture courtesy Vlasta Hakes

[Editor's note: Joni Mitchell once sang "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot." Does the Beach Bar mean we've come full circle?]

The decor was Corona heavy but they didn't carry Corona beer on opening night

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New York Ave Beach Bar to Open Friday

The sand has arrived and the new beach themed New York Ave Beach Bar (website | facebooktwitter) is slated to open this Friday. The new concept at 645 New York Avenue is being initiated by Derek Brown from cocktail haven The Passenger around the corner. The picnic tables and lounge chairs at this beach bar will be the place to drink in your flip flops and tank tops this summer. Wear some sunblock.

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New Old Cocktails at Ping Pong Dim Sum

Since opening in December 2009, Ping Pong Dim Sum (900 7th Street, NW) quickly faded into the plethora of Chinese, Thai, and other Pan-Asian restaurants permeating the Chinatown, Penn Quarter, and Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhoods and providing reliably enjoyable menu choices. Yet Ping Pong’s bar received precious little fanfare.

I was determined to discover the reason behind this absence of attention. The bar is not small by any means, meaning it wasn’t simply an afterthought to the restaurant itself. And the cocktail menu uses a number of intriguing ingredients: lychee juice; elderflower liqueur; and tea leaves.

So I visited Ping Pong early in the week and a short while after the dinner crowd’s departure; perhaps with only few patrons present I might elicit the true explanation.

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The Irish Channel 2.0

As the chalk board out front casually announces, the Irish Channel Restaurant and Pub (500 H Street, NW) re-opened on March 7th.  The quaint and unassuming pub was recently renovated when the former Red Roof Inn was converted to a Marriott-run Fairfield Inn & Suites.

It’s clear much consideration was spent refurbishing the modern Irish public house and restaurant.  Many new updates are plainly visible upon entering: the bar stools and church pew style booths have been reupholstered and several large flat-screen televisions have been added throughout the space.  A new (slightly lower) ceiling was installed along with new light fixtures over the bar.  And the once-open walkway between the hotel lobby and the bar has been walled off, better defining the bar as separate from the hotel.  But renovations weren’t only cosmetic: new electrical wiring, heating element, and redesigned bathrooms are present as well.

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Irish Channel has reopened

In late 2010 the ownership of the Red Roof Inn at 500 H Street NW in Chinatown changed hands. With the transfer came an overhaul of the property which is in the process of being rebranded as Fairfield Inns and Suites. The Irish Channel Pub was temporarily shuttered to accommodate the hotel remodeling.

Good news: The pub’s facebook page states that they have reopened this afternoon.

Walking by this evening the restaurant has a bag pipe player playing outside to attract the attention of passersby.

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Bon Appétit gives props to The Passenger

Via Young & Hungry we learn that The Passenger has been highlighted as one of the “The Top 10 Best New Cocktail Bars” (nationally) in the August issue of Bon Appétit magazine.

One could happily spend an evening ensconced in the up-front booths, sipping a Moscow Mule at brothers Derek and Tom Brown’s Chinatown-area bar. But in terms of speakeasy appeal, you can’t beat the reservation-only Columbia Room in the back.

The Passenger is located at 1021 7th Street NW. For past blog coverage on this bar visit the Passenger tag.

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Bar 7

The Prince of Petworth recently spotted window signage at 1015 7th Street for a new tavern called Bar 7. This newcomer could be a great complement to The Passenger which arrived in the fall.

Photo of Bar 7 from Prince of Petworth

Bar 7 is likely a reboot of the Wired concept we saw ABRA postings for last July.

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The Passenger Roundup

On Wednesday Kim previewed the opening of The Passenger. The links below highlight what others are saying.

  • Metrocurean: The new joint is kind of a neo-speakeasy version 2.0. It subtly nods to the Prohibition era (Derek was donning a vest at last night’s preview) but it’s a less contrived, more relaxed take on the trendy genre.
  • Young & Hungry (WCP): But will the Passenger really play hardcore music? Well, consider this: The name of the place is derived from the Iggy Pop song, The Passenger. “I’ve always loved this song,” Derek Brown says. “It always had great energy.”
  • We Love DC: The preview featured a gin punch that was a bit too lemony-sour for my taste (I tend to steer clear of that flavor range anyway, definitely do not pair it with the kimchi hot dog!). The Sherry Flip was more to my liking – with egg white, cream, sherry, brandy and nutmeg, here was a fragrant sipping cocktail whose old-fashioned vibe somehow seemed appropriate for the rough-hewn setting.
  • DCist: There is no cocktail menu at the Passenger, so when ordering one, you’ll be asked to specify a base liquor and further detail on whether you like a drier or sweeter drink. This is the part where it’s important to develop that relationship with your bartender and have a real conversation. It will enable you the opportunity to learn more about what you prefer, and to learn about new things. You may discover that you like vermouth; the dry, rouge and blanc Dolin vermouths are highly quaffable on their own.
  • Prince of Petworth: They were less interested in a gimmick and more interested in focusing on the fundamentals of a good bar. As such they will have 25 wines by the glass, 15 different cans of beer, and four beers on tap, in addition to specialty cocktails including gin punch which I may or may not have sampled between one and six.
  • Going Out Gurus (WaPo): There are plans for events like wine tastings and BYO nights, and every week, the main bar will host happy hour with a percentage of proceeds going to charity. (Derek also works for Share Our Strength, which provides food for needy children.)

Tons of photos from the pre-opening party are available to view in ReadysetDC’s preview. On the social media landscape both a Yelp business entry and a Facebook fanpage are already present.

Lastly, lots of comments on the blogosphere about the “God Save the District” slogan. My impression is that it has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with music. With the bar named after an Iggy Pop song this slogan would seem to have clear linkage with the Sex Pistols God Save the Queen which was later covered by the Brown’s beloved Motorhead.

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