Courtesy of Barkada

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Update 7/30: The owners of Barkada decided to change the name of their wine bar after facing backlash about cultural appropriation on social media. Barkada is a Tagalog slang word for a group of friends. No one of Filipino heritage is involved in the business. That story can be read here

One of the city’s top wine geeks is opening a wine bar focused on the “funky, weirdo side of wine” in a few weeks. Sebastian Zutant, who currently owns and operates Primrose in Brookland, honed his skills at Komi, Rasika, Proof, and The Red Hen. He’s teaming up with Menchie’s owners Nick Guglietta and Anthony Aligo to open Barkada in the former frozen yogurt shop at 1939 12th St. NW. 

The trio have been pals for years and Zutant says they share a “thirst for knowledge about weirdo wine.” Barkada is a Filipino slang word for a group of friends, according to Zutant. “I pushed for the idea that it didn’t matter if our name was in a different language or not,” Zutant says. “I didn’t want to call it posse or homies or clique.” 

Zutant is building a roughly 60-bottle wine list highlighting low-intervention and natural wines that are becoming increasingly popular. These wines are typically devoid of additives and preservatives some winemakers use during the fermentation and bottling processes. Often the grapes are grown using organic and biodynamic methods.

“It’ll be stuff people haven’t seen or heard of,” Zutant says. “I’m looking for young, interesting American wine makers.” That said, he’s not limiting his wine list to a specific country or region. 

The food menu is substantial enough that patrons “won’t be hungry afterwards,” according to Zutant. He’ll showcase products from local makers like smoked fish from Ivy City Smokehouse and pâté from Stachowski’s Market in Georgetown. On a recent trip to Portugal, Zutant became intrigued by tinned fish. He’ll serve an array of them from his favorite company, Jose Gourmet. Also look for a wide variety of cheese and charcuterie. 

At full capacity, Barkada will have 30 seats inside and 30 seats outside. When they open in a couple of weeks they’ll have 15 seats outside in order to allow customers to practice social distancing. Zutant calls opening a bar during the pandemic terrifying. “I’m trying to hold on to one restaurant while trying to launch another one,” he says. “It’s not exactly how I planned it.” 

PoPville spotted signage for Barkada earlier this week. 

Barkada, 1939 12th St. NW