A Manhattan will set you back $14 at forthcoming downtown restaurant and bar Second State. Want it on the rocks? That will be a dollar more—for a total of $15.
The Pennsylvania-themed spot, which is set to open in the former Mighty Pint space at 1831 M St. NW on Oct. 21, will be the first place in D.C. with an ice surcharge listed on its cocktail menu. (Most bars eat the cost or build it into the price of the drink.) Granted, these are no freezer-burned, generic tray cubes. This is the fancy, unclouded artisanal stuff from D.C.’s boutique ice company, Favourite Ice, founded by local bartenders Owen Thomson and Joseph Ambrose. Second State bartenders will chip off the eight corners for a more spherical shape that sits in the glass like an iceberg.
“It’s worth it,” says bar manager Phil Clark. “When it goes into a cocktail, it’s crystal clear. It’s purified water, so there’s no minerally taste.”
Clark says the bar actually does not make a profit on the ice. When you factor in delivery costs, it’s actually a loss leader.
In addition to a Manhattan, the $1 ice supplement applies to a martini, Martinez, and negroni. You can also get any of Second State’s 30 rye whiskeys “on a rock.” A lot of the drink menu nods in some way to Pennsylvania, from where owner Reese Gardner hails. (The name Second State refers to the fact that Pennsylvania was the second state to ratify the Constitution.) Rye whiskey used to be a big product in the state, although today there are only two rye whiskies produced there, Dad’s Hat and Wigle.
The cocktails ($11-$17), which are split between classics and “handcrafted original cocktails,” incorporate many of these rye whiskies plus various housemade shrubs and syrups. Among them is the “Dutch Mule” with Old Overholt rye whiskey, ginger-lime cordial, and lime. It’s served in a copper mug, and bartenders are already preparing to be vigilant for theft. At Second State sister restaurant, Copperwood Tavern, they reorder 150 to 200 mugs every three months, says Beverage Director Boris Stojkovic.
The Keystone State theme continues with an all-Pennsylvanian beer list, including brews from Troegs, Victory, Weyerbacher, and Sly Fox. You won’t, however, find any Pennsylvanian wines. “There’s a lot of good wineries in Pennsylvania, but distribution is a problem,” says Stojkovic. The state’s laws make it difficult, he says, but he’s hoping to work with a distributor to bring some Pennsylvania wine to D.C. at some point.
Y&H will report more on Second State closer to its opening.
Second State, 1831 M St. NW, (202) 466-3010; secondstatedc.com
Photos by Jessica Sidman