Celebrate the cherry blossoms with cocktails at new pop-up bar

WASHINGTON If you’re looking for an alternative spot to catch the cherry blossoms this year, head over to Seventh Street NW in Shaw. We can’t guarantee it will be less crowded than the Tidal Basin, but you’ll have a much easier time dealing with people after a few sake cocktails. 

Derek Brown and his team at Mockingbird Hill and Southern Efficiency are at it again. On the heels of a second successful year transforming the two adjoining spaces into a winter wonderland for a Christmas pop-up bar, the cocktail creatives are celebrating one of D.C.’s most festive times with a cherry blossom pop-up.

“For us, a pop-up bar is like a big cocktail. It’s an opportunity for us to create something really fun and beautiful,” said Brown, president of Drink Company, which operates Mockingbird Hill, Southern Efficiency, Eat the Rich and Columbia Room.

The Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Bar (or Cherry Blossom PUB) encompasses two themes. At Southern Efficiency, pink and white blossom branches creep up the side wall and hang from the ceiling. A mural of the Jefferson Memorial draped in cherry blossoms covers the back wall.

“Somebody from the National Cherry Blossom Festival was telling us how hard it was to find the fake cherry blossoms because we had snatched them all up,” Brown said.

A few feet away, red and white “piranha plants” drop down from green pipes, and boxes marked with question marks light up. A cheerful voice that says, “It’s me! Mario!” comes over the speaker.  

“You’re in what we affectionately refer to as ‘Mario Bar,’” Brown said about the temporarily redecorated Mockingbird Hill. “[On this side of the bar] we wanted to do something that was an homage to Japan and one of its most famous exports: Mario Brothers.”

The Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Bar (or Cherry Blossom PUB) encompasses two themes. At Southern Efficiency, pink and white blossom branches creep up the side wall and hang from the ceiling. A mural of the Jefferson Memorial draped in cherry blossoms covers the back wall. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
The Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Bar (or Cherry Blossom PUB) encompasses two themes. At Southern Efficiency, pink and white blossom branches creep up the side wall and hang from the ceiling. A mural of the Jefferson Memorial draped in cherry blossoms covers the back wall. (WTOP/Rachel Nania) (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
“For us, a pop-up bar is like big cocktail. It’s an opportunity for us to create something really fun and beautiful,” said Brown, president of Drink Company, which operates Mockingbird Hill, Southern Efficiency, Eat the Rich and Columbia Room. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
“For us, a pop-up bar is like a big cocktail. It’s an opportunity for us to create something really fun and beautiful,” said Brown, president of Drink Company, which operates Mockingbird Hill, Southern Efficiency, Eat the Rich and Columbia Room. (WTOP/Rachel Nania) (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
At Mockingbird Hill, red and white “piranha plants” drop down from green pipes and boxes marked with question marks light up. A cheerful voice that says, “It’s me! Mario!” comes over the speaker.  (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
At Mockingbird Hill, red and white “piranha plants” drop down from green pipes and boxes marked with question marks light up. A cheerful voice that says, “It’s me! Mario!” comes over the speaker. (WTOP/Rachel Nania) (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
“You’re in what we affectionately refer to as ‘Mario Bar,’” Brown said about the temporarily redecorated Mockingbird Hill. “[On this side of the bar] we wanted to do something that was an homage to Japan and one of its most famous exports: Mario Brothers.” (Photo by Farrah Skeiky)
“You’re in what we affectionately refer to as ‘Mario Bar,’” Brown said about the temporarily redecorated Mockingbird Hill. “[On this side of the bar] we wanted to do something that was an homage to Japan and one of its most famous exports: Mario Brothers.” (Photo by Farrah Skeiky) (Photo by Farrah Skeiky)
Senior Bar Manager Paula Taylor whips up a "Neko Colada" cocktail. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
Senior Bar Manager Paul Taylor whips up a “Neko Colada” cocktail. (WTOP/Rachel Nania) (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
The creativity and detail that went into the decor, much of which was constructed by family and friends, transfers over to the pop-up’s cocktail menu, both in terms of drink names and ingredients. (Photo by Farrah Skeiky)
The creativity and detail that went into the décor, much of which was constructed by family and friends, transfers over to the pop-up’s cocktail menu, both in terms of drink names and ingredients. (Photo by Farrah Skeiky) (Photo by Farrah Skeiky)
The “I Call Yoshi!” cocktail. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
A selection of Japanese beers and whiskies are also available; bites such as gyoza, marinated mushrooms and katsu sando round out the food menu. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
More than 2,000 oragami cranes were hand folded and are displayed at the entrance of the pop up bar. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
More than 2,000 oragami cranes were hand folded and are displayed at the entrance of the pop-up bar. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
It took the team at Drink Company two months to come up with the concept, plan and execute the design said owner Derek Brown. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
It took the team at Drink Company two months to come up with the concept, plan and execute the design, said owner Derek Brown. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
The Japanese-inspired cocktails all are crafted using hand-mixed syrups that have to be made in large batches to accommodate customer demand. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
The Japanese-inspired cocktails are crafted using hand-mixed syrups that have to be made in large batches to accommodate customer demand. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Hand-folded cranes hang in a curtain at the entrance of one of the paired pop-up bars. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Behind the Mario bar, staff created a Lego installation, further reminding visitors of their childhood. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Behind the Mario bar, staff created a Lego installation, further reminding visitors of their childhood. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Inside the Mario Brothers bar, designers used the pipes and stars of the video game to create the image of the D.C. flag. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Inside the Mario Brothers bar, designers used the pipes and stars of the video game to create the image of the D.C. flag. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
The Cherry Blossom bar inside the existing Southern Efficiency whiskey bar stays true to its inspiration incorporating the spirit into a number of the cocktails. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
The Cherry Blossom PUB inside Southern Efficiency stays true to its inspiration, incorporating the spirit into a number of the cocktails. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
The blooms hanging above the Cherry Blossom pop up bar are also woven between the spirits behind the bar. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
The blooms hanging above the Cherry Blossom PUB are also woven between the spirits behind the bar. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
The pop-up bar remains open until April 15, one month after the expected peak of the real cherry blossoms. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
(1/17)
The Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Bar (or Cherry Blossom PUB) encompasses two themes. At Southern Efficiency, pink and white blossom branches creep up the side wall and hang from the ceiling. A mural of the Jefferson Memorial draped in cherry blossoms covers the back wall. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
“For us, a pop-up bar is like big cocktail. It’s an opportunity for us to create something really fun and beautiful,” said Brown, president of Drink Company, which operates Mockingbird Hill, Southern Efficiency, Eat the Rich and Columbia Room. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
At Mockingbird Hill, red and white “piranha plants” drop down from green pipes and boxes marked with question marks light up. A cheerful voice that says, “It’s me! Mario!” comes over the speaker.  (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
“You’re in what we affectionately refer to as ‘Mario Bar,’” Brown said about the temporarily redecorated Mockingbird Hill. “[On this side of the bar] we wanted to do something that was an homage to Japan and one of its most famous exports: Mario Brothers.” (Photo by Farrah Skeiky)
Senior Bar Manager Paula Taylor whips up a "Neko Colada" cocktail. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)
The creativity and detail that went into the decor, much of which was constructed by family and friends, transfers over to the pop-up’s cocktail menu, both in terms of drink names and ingredients. (Photo by Farrah Skeiky)
More than 2,000 oragami cranes were hand folded and are displayed at the entrance of the pop up bar. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
It took the team at Drink Company two months to come up with the concept, plan and execute the design said owner Derek Brown. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
The Japanese-inspired cocktails all are crafted using hand-mixed syrups that have to be made in large batches to accommodate customer demand. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Behind the Mario bar, staff created a Lego installation, further reminding visitors of their childhood. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Inside the Mario Brothers bar, designers used the pipes and stars of the video game to create the image of the D.C. flag. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
The Cherry Blossom bar inside the existing Southern Efficiency whiskey bar stays true to its inspiration incorporating the spirit into a number of the cocktails. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
The blooms hanging above the Cherry Blossom pop up bar are also woven between the spirits behind the bar. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

The creativity and detail that went into the décor, much of which was constructed by family and friends, transfers over to the pop-up’s cocktail menu, both in terms of drink names and ingredients.

Anyone who’s uncovered a mini mushroom will find familiarity in “What doesn’t kill you makes you smaller,” which is made with vodka, mandarin orange, pomelo and apricot liqueur. The neon-green drink “I call Yoshi!” features unfiltered sake, midori, green chartreuse, cucumber melon and lemon.

“All year round, we really try to bring out artisanal ingredients,” Brown said. “We try to bring out craft spirits, and some of the stuff that people have never seen before, whether it’s sake or Japanese whiskies. But in this incarnation, we get to do it in a way that’s kind of fun and clever.” 

A selection of Japanese beers is also available; bites such as gyoza, marinated mushrooms and katsu sando round out the food menu.

It’s safe to say Brown has caught the pop-up bug and the creative license that comes with it. He’s already mulling over ideas for future themes.

“Ultimately, all we want to do is create a fun environment where people have great drinks, so whatever we do, it will certainly reflect that,” he said.

Cherry Blossom PUB, 1843 and 1841 Seventh St. NW is open 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Insider tip: Get there early.

Get everything you need to know about visiting the Cherry Blossoms via WTOP’s Cherry Blossoms page.


Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2017 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up