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The W Washington D.C. got a makeover this fall with the opening of Southern European restaurant Pinea and the revamp of POV rooftop lounge. And now the downstairs bar has been transformed from a wine spot to a whiskey one called Root Cellar, opening Thursday.
“Wine bars are great, but they don’t drive the bottom line because the product goes bad eventually,” says general manager Adrian Mishek. Plus, D.C. is a huge whiskey market, he says, and the brown liquor is better suited for the W hotel brand and location. (The whiskey competition is becoming as stiff as the drinks with newish places like Southern Efficiency, Barrel, Rebellion, Boss Shepherd’s, Denson Liquor Bar, the Whiskey Room at Ri Ra Irish Pub, Second State, and the Dignitary at the Marriott Marquis.)
Root Cellar has about 90 varieties of whiskey to start. There’s no specific focus; the bar has a range of bourbons, rye, Scotch, Irish, and Japanese whiskies. Mishek says they’re working with local Catoctin Creek Distillery to bring in a barrel exclusively for Root Cellar. “We’ll go out to the distillery and pick the barrel and get very involved with the process and do what we want with it,” Mishek says.
Cocktails ($13-$15) include a barrel-aged negroni and white rye Manhattan. Mishek is also working on a barrel-aged pear sazerac and a vesper (where only the gin and vodka are aged). Beer and wine are also available, but the options are limited. Pinea’s kitchen will supply Italian “snacks” called merenda, including bruschetta, grilled pork skewers, charcuterie, and crab-guanciale croquetas.
Root Cellar will also host monthly whiskey pairing dinners, starting with a Pappy Van Winkle feast that costs $449 per person (including tax and tip). The Jan. 17 event will include five of Pappy’s prized whiskies, including the 23-year bottle, paired with game dishes from Pinea chef Barry Koslow. Tickets are available at pappyhour.eventbrite.com or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. February’s dinner will include whiskies from Japanese Yamazaki, and March will highlight local Catoctin Creek.
If you’re looking for something a little less pricey, Root Cellar will have happy hour including discounted food and wine plus select $10 cocktails.
Check out the food and drink menus below.
Photo courtesy the W Washington D.C.