Lonely Planet Writer

Washington DC is getting two cherry blossom-themed bars for the start of the season

Just in time for Washington DC’s National Cherry Blossom Festival, this year, two cherry blossom-themed bars are popping up to add to the celebration. Starting on 1 March, Cherry Blossom PUB (short for Pop Up Bar) will inject a Japanese-inspired spirit into two local bars.

 Japanese-inspired spirit is coming to local DC bars.
Japanese-inspired spirit is coming to local DC bars. Image by Farrah Skeikye

Mockingbird Hill and Southern Efficiency, both part of the Drink Company, will transform with festive decor and a playful menu, all channeling Japanese culture. Southern Efficiency, a whiskey and bourbon bar typically featuring fried chicken sandwiches and other classic Southern staples, will be decked in pink, with an origami crane chandelier, cherry blossom paintings by local artist Maggie O’Neill, and a collection of maneki-neko — Japan’s lucky “beckoning cat.” Mockingbird Hill, once a Spanish tapas and sherry bar, will convert into the Mushroom Kingdom as an ode to Super Mario Bros., with bartenders dressed like the video game hero in red hats and overalls, the super villain King Koopa making an appearance, and a Mario Kart contest.

“It’s A Me, Amario” cocktail
“It’s A Me, Amario” cocktail Image by Farrah Skeiky

Guests can order from specialty menus, with snacks like gyoza, edamame, and a katsu sandwich. Drinks will include sake, Japanese beer and whisky, and a selection of playfully named themed cocktails like ‘Eat, Drink, and Be Cherry,’ and ‘Princess is in Another Castle,’ made with cognac, Jamaican rum, tea, and sparkling wine.

Festive decor will channel Japanese culture.   Image by Farrah Skeiky

Drink Company owner and spirits expert Derek Brown was inspired to create Cherry Blossom PUB on the heels of his wildly popular Miracle on 7th Street holiday pop up bar. “I’ve been going to see the cherry blossoms since I was a kid, and as a third-generation Washingtonian, that’s really important to me,” Brown told Lonely Planet. “I want to honor and share that with the community and have fun while doing it.”

The Cherry Blossom Festival’s opening ceremony takes place on 25 March this year, and the Cherry Blossom PUB will remain open until 15 April.

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