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If there’s a cocktail that embodies the spirit of Brookland’s newest bar, it’s the “Junto” with Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin, Aperol, Shrub District Pineapple Allspice Shrub, two types of bitters, and egg white. The name refers to social club Benjamin Franklin founded in Philadelphia in 1727.
“He brought together people from diverse trades like leather workers, philosophers, and politicians,” says Kirk Francis. He co-owns the Brookland food hall Tastemakers, which doubles as a food incubator, with his wife Juliann Francis. They also own Captain Cookie and the Milkman. “That’s exactly what the space is supposed to be about,” Juliann says. “It’s an energetic, collaborative space.”
The bar housed inside Tastemakers—Benjamin’s on Franklin—is now open with limited hours (Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 4 p.m. to midnight). It didn’t take a lot of mental floss to name the bar with a Franklin street address after one of this country’s great inventors.
There are hints of Benjamin Franklin everywhere including cocktails made with one of his favorite potent potables. “Three Flies” has a madeira base, plus strawberry and lemon served over crushed ice in the style of a cobbler. Since Franklin started the first public library in America, there are bookshelves lining the bar that Kirk envisions as a lending library for neighbors.
The Francis’ tapped Logan Bond to build the drink list at Benjamin’s on Franklin. He comes to the bar from Copycat Co., Denson Liquor Bar, and One Eight Distilling. His cocktail list includes $12 classic cocktails and $12 original creations he calls “inventions” for obvious reasons.
Some of the cocktails fold in ingredients produced in the shared commercial kitchen space including Shrub District’s products and Alchemist Coffee. Bond is squeezing juices, cutting ice to order, and employing local spirits whenever possible.
Imbibers can also choose from a selection of local beers ranging from Hellbender’s Bare Bones Kölsch and 3 Stars Peppercorn Saison to a porter from Right Proper. ANXO cider and a small selection of wines, including Barboursville’s cabernet sauvignon, are available too.
In the coming weeks there will be a number of food vendors inside Tastemakers that patrons can purchase food from to eat at the bar. They include Ball or Nothing, Taqueria del Barrio, DC SteakHolders, DC Vegan Catering, and Bullfrog Bagels. In the meantime, bar patrons can bring in food from outside.
Warm cookies are also an option since the Captain Cookie stand is already up and running inside Tastemakers. Kirk says he’s toying with the idea of doing a cocktail and cookie pairing flight.
Benjamin’s on Franklin, 2800 10th St. NE; (202) 248-4721; bensonfranklin.com