Places You Can’t Go: Pub Crawl On Embassy Row
Private bars in two embassies.
Great Britain’s hidden embassy bar is a favorite staff gathering spot. Photograph by Ron Blunt.
Pull Up a Stool, Britannia
Diplomatic life in Washington is filled with standard wine-and-cheese receptions, but some embassies have gone the extra mile—installing private bars and pubs inside their walls to entertain special guests.
For years, the British Embassy compound boasted the Union Tap, a back-room pub with a bar built by a staff member. In a 2008 renovation, the old wooden bar was put out to pasture and a new one created: Bar 3100, named after the embassy’s Massachusetts Avenue address.
The sleek bar—part of a multifunction area the embassy uses for receptions and meetings—represents, according to deputy head of mission Philip Barton, “a modern Britain.”
The ambassador tends to entertain at the adjacent residence, so on Friday nights Bar 3100 belongs to the embassy staff. They gather over drinks, with some volunteering as bartenders. Barton says the staff is looking forward to using Bar 3100 to celebrate this year’s London Olympics and Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee, the 60th anniversary of her ascension to the throne.
Next: The German Embassy’s “Berlin Bar”
The German Embassy bar is modeled on a bar in Berlin. Photograph by Ron Blunt.
Soon after their arrival here a decade ago, then–German ambassador Wolfgang Friedrich Ischinger and wife Jutta Falke-Ischinger were horrified by the crypt-like entertaining space in their residence on DC’s Foxhall Road.
Falke-Ischinger commissioned a team to design a “Berlin Bar,” modeled after the famous Paris Bar in the German capital, known for its fin-de-siècle atmosphere. The basement room now sports rich red walls, black-and-white cubist decor, and a long convivial bar stocked with tankards and Pilsner glasses. On the walls are framed black-and-white photos of postwar Berlin, including the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie.
This article appears in the February 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.