Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
A bar is defined two times, says Derek Brown. The first is on paper before the place opens, and the second comes after people arrive. “When they walk in the door, they might use it differently than you expected them to,” he says.
Such has been the case for Mockingbird Hill in Shaw. What started as a sherry and ham bar was ultimately met with a demand for more cocktails. And so, the bar will close for the summer beginning June 25 and reopen next fall with a greater emphasis on mixed drinks.
Brown explains that a lot of people didn’t see a sherry bar as an everyday place, and many came in search of cocktails, which the bar wasn’t specifically designed to do. Nonetheless, Mockingbird Hill has been moving toward more cocktails for quite some time. The remodel just formalizes it.
“The Taoist saying is don’t push the water. If it’s flowing one way, go with that flow,” Brown says.
The bar owner is perfectly zen about the change. After all, it’s not like he’s abandoning his founding mission to make sherry cool again. Sherry will figure prominently into the cocktails, which can be a gateway drug to the fortified wine.
Design firm Edit Lab at Streetsense, which was behind the look of sister bar Columbia Room, will take on the redesign of Mockingbird Hill. The barebones metal and wood space will be transformed into something a little more “intimate” and “cozy,” Brown says.
As for whether the uber-popular Hanukkah and Christmas pop-up bar Miracle on 7th Street will return next holiday season? “I think you can expect some things from us in the future regarding Yuletide,” he says.
The bar actually sold more sherry during last year’s holiday pop-up than at any other time, thanks to its inclusion in egg nog shots and other cocktails served in Santa mugs.
“In a way, it allowed people an easier entry into sherry,” Brown says. “And then they can ask if they’re curious.”