Once-outlawed absinthe is the main attraction at not one, but two bars that have opened in less than two weeks.
First there was La Fée Verte (The Green Fairy), a “speakeasy-style club” serving absinthe-based cocktails from the rooftop of Mova Lounge. The bar requires guests to text to a secret number to make a reservation.
Thankfully, there are no such faux-speakeasy antics at Libertine, located where Toledo Lounge used to be. The Adams Morgan restaurant and bar from Black Squirrel owner Amy Bowman opened yesterday with 30 different types of the licorice-flavor liquor, including several specially ordered from Europe.
Why absinthe? Bowman explains that she’s been serving it at Black Squirrel since 2007, when U.S. regulators lifted a century-long ban. “I grew an affinity for it because I like the taste of anise and licorice,” she says. “So when I was trying to think of something to focus on, I thought that would be interesting… There’s really nothing like it on 18th Street, and I always want to do something different.”
Bowman says the spirit has more variety than most people realize. Libertine has one coffee absinthe as well as some clear, less bitter varieties and the more powerful green liquors. Libertine may eventually offer some absinthe flights. (UPDATE: Libertine will offer a flight of three different absinthes for $15.)
General manager Morgan Tramontana has also put together a menu of 10 “house” cocktails (without absinthe) plus four draft cocktails (one of which has absinthe). All the cocktails cost between $9 and $11, but you can also get a flight with tastings of the four draft cocktails for $13.
The bistro-style menu, created by Black Squirrel chef Brent Sick, focuses on seafood. The offerings include Louisiana crab cakes, oysters Rockefeller, crawfish bisque, bronzed salmon, and five types of mussels. Crispy quail, duck confit, steak frites, and bahn mi sandwiches are among the non-seafood options.
Look out for happy hour specials and brunch coming soon.
Libertine, 2435 18th St. NW, (202) 450-3106