Photo by Laura Hayes
Photo by Laura Hayes

Some bars come along and feel like a cure for something. Loves Me Not is one of them. The cocktail lounge that’s commandeered the second floor of Mellow Mushroom is a refuge for D.C.’s creative community. The space is splashed with works of art that cost $300 or less and the bar will play host to small, vibey live music ensembles and DJs.

“It speaks to the DIY culture of D.C.,” says general manager James Scott. “We’re not really feeling, on the artist level, support from the city. So, we’re having to find nooks and hole-in-the-wall spaces to perform and show art.” Scott has operated OTHERFEELS since 2016, and he hopes to continue his mission of creating a venue for up-and-coming artists and musicians at Loves Me Not.

Mellow Mushroom co-owner Amit Mehta has known Scott for a couple of years and two teamed up to bring Adams Morgan something they thought was missing in the neighborhood, which is seeing a fresh wave of foot traffic thanks to opening of The LINE DC Hotel.

Scott and Mehta are the scrappy underdogs. “The name says a lot,” Mehta says. “From the furniture to the space itself, it’s reimagining something that was already there and bringing new life to it. Giving things a second chance.”

The vintage couches that give the space its character came from Craigslist. Scott says everything was $150 or less. “The most fun part of shopping for the furniture was the characters we came across,” Mehta says. “We told them, ‘This is going to a bar if you want to stop by,’ and they were so excited,” Scott adds. 

Bar director Younghyun You put together a list of cocktails. He most recently tended bar at Nocturne in Shaw. The speakeasy in the basement of a doughnut shop takes a lot of risks with its drinks, folding in ingredients like matcha, ramen noodles, and cheese.

“As much as I loved their experimental cocktails, I just love good classics,” You says. “There’s a market for craft cocktails with the changing demographic in Adams Morgan.” 

His menu has a mix of classics and original drinks. Highlights include the “All the World is Green” with mezcal, Becherovka herbal liqueur, avocado cilantro purée, lime, and honey syrup ($13); “Long Black Veil” with bourbon, black sesame syrup, and black walnut bitters ($12); and “Little Wing” with rum, Velvet Falernum, tea tincture, lime, and lavender bitters ($13).

There is also a “starving artist” section with drinks priced $9 or less including a Sazerac, Gimlet, and beer-and-shot combo. View the menu here

Loves Me Not customers will not be able to order pizza from the downstairs restaurant, however Mehta says he’s looking to bring in pop-up food vendors from Mess Hall and Union Kitchen

The Mellow Mushroom rooftop will be revamped to incorporate some elements of Loves Me Not. “Where the worlds collide is the rooftop,” Scott says. “It’s going to be a hybrid space with both patrons. We’ll have an imprint up there with vibe and aesthetic.” 

To start, Loves Me Not will be open Thursdays through Saturdays from 5:30 p.m. to close. They may add Sunday nights later on, and Scott says they might show avant-garde films on the televisions and projector screen with cocktails to match. 

The bar will be open serving a limited menu on April 21 and April 26-28. The grand opening will be the weekend of May 4 and 5. That Saturday night, Loves Me Not is the official after party spot for Cautious Clay. The musician is playing at DC-9 earlier in the evening and will then come by to DJ. 

Loves Me Not, 2436 18th St. NW