Washingtonians can get their first taste of Marble Alley tonight—the forthcoming bar from Trevor Frye. The bartender-turned-bar-owner will be conducting “R&D” nights at the Dupont Circle location of Hank’s Oyster Bar when guinea pig cocktails will be offered for $8 each from 8 p.m. to midnight. Many highlight lesser-known spirits such as Rujero Singani (a Bolivian brandy) or Krogstad Aquavit (full menu below).
Details about the Adams Morgan bar are starting to roll in, most notably an address—2412 18th St. NW—the former home of Bardia’s New Orleans Cafe.
The top of Marble Alley will function like a deli, but not a fancy-pants one. “We’re not going to compete with G by Mike Isabella. I’m not like [Mike] Isabella, and I realize that,” Frye says. “These are the sandwiches I grew up on.” No sandwich will cost more than $10, and the menu will include a roast beef sandwich that’s dressed with deviled eggs instead of mustard or mayo, and an heirloom tomato sandwich with Duke’s mayo. But Frye expects the majority of customers to build their own sandwiches.
The deli will be open seven days a week, 365 days a year. “Part of how I was brought up is as a bar, you’re a family for those who don’t have one,” Frye says. “We’ll be open all holidays because in essence, we’re such a transient city, there are people who can’t get home and we want to be there for them.”
Below the deli sits Frye’s cocktail den (open Tuesdays through Saturdays), where the drinks will no doubt be more extravagant than the sandwiches above. But Frye says he doesn’t want it to be about the show. “It’s all about the guest experience,” he says. “It’s not about someone coming in to watch us work.” He explains that in today’s cocktail renaissance, customers have come to expect good drinks. The next best way to impress them is with hospitality.
He says cocktails should be 70 percent about what’s in the glass and 30 percent about the experience. “You can ruin a good cocktail by being an asshole, or you can improve on something by making it with a smile on your face.”
Frye, who made a local and national name for himself at Jack Rose Dining Saloon and basement bar Dram & Grain, says he wanted to stay in the Adams Morgan neighborhood because he likes its grit. After all, Marble Alley is named after an enclave of bars and brothels within the Murder Bay slum that in the mid-19th century occupied where Federal Triangle sits today.
Currently, Marble Alley is slated to open in February.
Marble Alley, www.facebook.com/marblealleydc
Tonight’s drink menu:
“Packing for Ponce”
Don Q Gran Anejo
Marble Alley Bitters
“La Playa Hater”
Illegal Mezcal Reposado
Basil Honey Syrup
“Bolivian Stand Off”
Kung Fu Reduction Syrup
“You Gentian, You Lose Some”
Wild Turkey 101 Rye
Cocchi Di Tornio
Marble Alley Bitters