D.C.’s Middle Eastern pop-up bar, The Green Zone, has a new Saturday night home inside Darnell’s Bar (944 Florida Ave. NW). That’s where you’ll find founder Chris Hassaan Francke pouring politically charged cocktails like Fuck Trump Punch. The kegged elixir combines rum, Vimto (a fruit syrup popular in the Middle East), and mezcal. “Because it’s fuck Trump, we added a heavy dose of mezcal to make it Arab-Mexican fusion,” Francke says.
The Green Zone will be up and running in Darnell’s every Saturday night through Dec. 17 (except for Oct. 22) from 5 p.m. until last call at 12:30 a.m. In late December, Francke, who is of Iraqi descent, will make his annual two-week trip to the Middle East.
Francke says his cocktails ($11 each) are seasonal, so patrons should expect fall flavors like quince and other fruit. The Double Apple, for example, combines Calvados apple brandy, apple syrup, and arak. Then there’s the Under The Pomegranate Tree—a carbonated pomegranate syrup and arak cocktail named after lyrics in a Fairouz song that’s served in a flute. Not all of the ingredients in the drink are spelled out.
“I’ve slightly ‘tiki-fied’ my menu in that I’m not explicit about what’s in there,” Francke says. Tiki drinks often contain mystery ingredients. He can, however, tell us that arak is the national spirit of eastern Arabic countries. The grape distillate is most similar to ouzo or pastis because of its anise flavor. “The way gin is distilled with juniper, it’s distilled with anise,” he says.
Bar bites such as cheese pastries and kibbeh (patties made from bulgur and ground meat) are also new to The Green Zone, and were popular enough to sell out Saturday night.
The Green Zone has been popping up in bars in D.C. like Black Whiskey and Zeba Bar since it debuted in May 2014. But it’s ever-temporary status will likely come to an end in 2017 as Francke reports he’s inching closer to securing a permanent home. He’s currently looking at spaces.
The Green Zone, 944 Florida Ave. NW; @thegreenzonedc; facebook.com/thegreenzonedc/