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To get to The Cocktail Club inside Park View’s Hook Hall, there’s no need to walk the plank. Instead, look for an unassuming wall fashioned from wooden planks inside the subtly pirate-themed spot. When you arrive for your reservation, it swings open to reveal a 15-seat drink den. That’s where you’ll find longtime D.C. bartender Mick Perrigo shaking a prix fixe three-cocktail menu Wednesdays through Sundays.
Hook Hall owner Anna Valero sought to spice up the offerings in her sprawling bar that might simultaneously have a cover band playing for a wedding party in one corner, a cider festival in another, cabanas full of friends, and a few people playing skee-ball.
“We’re bringing back that old-school feeling of the bar that we had pre-COVID, where you actually got to engage with a bartender and build a rapport,” she says. Perrigo, she adds, epitomizes hospitality. Valero likes that his drinks often pull from history. “In a space as large as ours, we wanted people to have an ability to have an intimate setting.”
Valero and her team outfitted the lush little oasis with seafaring antiques, a dreamy paint job, and greenery. The bottles of tinctures scattered across the bar top foreshadow the one-of-a-kind cocktails are to come. There are seven seats at the bar and two tables with four seats each.
Perrigo has help from just one other employee—Greg Thompson. They appointed themselves with Navy titles: captain and quartermaster. When aboard a ship, a quartermaster’s duties include steering the ship and plotting courses as navigational experts.
Even though The Cocktail Club is hidden, neither Valero nor Perrigo are deploying the “S” word. “We’re trying to avoid ‘speakeasy’ as a term because we’re not a full-on speakeasy,” Perrigo says. (City Paper maintains that you can’t be a speakeasy if you have a website!) “I like it in certain ways, but we’re not in Prohibition or anything. It’s a cocktail club.”
Semantics aside, reclaiming the feeling of discovery after staring at the four walls of our homes for the better part of two years is appealing. The Cocktail Club provides the emotional experience of finding treasure in an unexpected place.
Perrigo, formerly of Left Door and L’Annexe, chooses a new theme or “motif” for his $75 menu about every two weeks. Each reservation is for an hour and a half. Food is not a focus, but there may be bar snacks available in the future. The Cocktail Club launches to the public on Thursday, Oct. 21 with a “Ghosts & Ghouls” motif.
To gear up for the debut, Perrigo took his bar for a test drive using a “Privateer” theme. First he poured a classic daiquiri into a pre-chilled glass with a slight twist—a trace amount of clove and truffle oil. He called the drink the “Treacherous Seas.”
Another cocktail, “Bonny’s Grog,” showcased Perrigo’s garnish game. He named the drink after Anne Bonny—an Irish pirate who wreaked havoc in the Caribbean in the 18th century. “She was known for her fiery temper and red hair,” Perrigo explains.
Most think of a grog as some variation of rum diluted with water. The Cocktail Club’s version combined rum, Scotch, cinnamon honey syrup, lime juice, grapefruit juice, and soda water. Perrigo crowned it with mint, Japanese candy from Hana Market, a pirate flag, and a rambutan pod that looked like a ship. He filled the pod with rum, lit it on fire, and sunk it into the drink.
The first three motifs are already determined. Ghosts & Ghouls runs from Oct. 21 to Oct. 31, Day of the Dead from Nov. 3 through Nov. 7, and Puzzles and Treasures from Nov. 10 through 21. Perrigo recommends the latter because the experience should feel a little like an escape room. “I get to be the game master, which is super cool,” he says.
If you down your three cocktails before your 90-minute session is up, you can order a la carte and Perrigo will make you a custom cocktail. If you don’t want to drink alcohol, Perrigo can make a spirit-free flight of cocktails if you make a note when you book. One of his non-alcoholic creations, “It’s a Marigold,” is a refreshing mix of black currant puree, lemon juice, soda water, and a garnish of edible flowers.
Reservations, which are spaced out every 15 minutes, are live on Tock. The Cocktail Club will be open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 9:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 6:30 to 10:15 p.m., and Sundays from 3:15 to 7 p.m. You can also rent out The Cocktail Club for private parties.
Perrigo expects to host a lot of dates as well as people who are curious about cocktails and their histories. He has a motto for his new venture: “Carpe noctem, or ‘seize the night!'”
The Cocktail Club at Hook Hall, 3400 Georgia Ave. NW; (202) 629-4339; hookhall.com/cocktailclub