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The Passenger‘s Derek Brown and partner Angie Salame will complete their Shaw bar trifecta tomorrow with the debut of Southern Efficiency. The Southern-inspired whiskey bar joins Mockingbird Hill and Eat The Rich—all opened within little more than six months.
Southern Efficiency gets its name from the John F. Kennedy quote: “Washington is a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm.” The bar focuses on Southern bourbons and ryes, with a collection of about 40 bottles. You’ll also be able to get some Scotch and whiskies from elsewhere, though. “I love whiskey way too much, and I think Derek would agree as well, that I couldn’t just limit it to that,” says bar manager JP Fetherston. If you’re hoping to learn more about whiskey, Southern Efficiency will host classes. Unlike Mockingbird Hill, which leads free sherry seminars on Tuesdays, the whiskey bar will charge somewhere in the ballpark of $45, which will include a cocktail, three whiskies, and snacks.
If neat’s not your style, a white rye whiskey and hickory-smoked cola will be on tap, alongside four Southern draft beers and a Maryland cider. The bar will also have at least two cocktails bottled in mason jars, starting with a rye whiskey with unfiltered cider concoction and a dash of Angostura bitters as well as a Black Strap rum drink with switchel. “It’s basically like farmers’ Gatorade from the 18th and 19th century,” Fetherston says of switchel, which consists of water and apple cider vinegar with a little maple syrup and ginger. “It allowed them to drink water and actually hydrate themselves and not drink beer or whiskey.” Fetherston is also making some sodas, like apple celery, which can be mixed with booze.
“And then this being a Derek Brown bar, you can come in and order whatever cocktail, and we’ll pretty much be able to make most of that stuff,” Fetherston says. “Although we’re going to try and obviously emphasize brown and stirred drinks.” He aims to serve the best Sazerac in town.
The food menu and the look of the place take inspiration from lunch counters Brown encountered in the Carolinas and Georgia. Chef Julien Shapiro, who also oversees Eat The Rich, will prepare chicken liver spread with cornbread and pickled veggies, deviled eggs with smoked trout trimmings, and peanut soup as starters. Mains (all $15) include fried catfish, pulled pork, and Country Captain, a hearty curried chicken dish that Shapiro makes with currants and almonds. For dessert, check out the Duke’s mayo chocolate cake with bourbon-soaked figs and chocolate balls made with—what else?—more bourbon.
Southern Efficiency, 1814 7th St. NW.
Photo by Jessica Sidman