For a year now, the storefront at 2435 18th Street, Northwest—the former home of Toledo Lounge—has been shuttered, its glass front covered in paper. In the intervening months, Black Squirrel owner Amy Bowman kept her new concept a closely guarded secret. Over the holiday weekend, however, Bowman debuted a cafe and bar called Libertine during a few soft openings, and says its official first day of business will be Tuesday, July 9.
What to expect? Thirty different types of absinthe, for one thing; nearby Black Squirrel also has a hefty collection of the once-verboten wormwood spirit. (The name Libertine refers to the free-minded people who surreptitiously sipped the green fairy during its outlaw days.) Ten of the bottles at the new place will be European inports. The bar will be overseen by general manager Morgan Tramontana, who helped develop ten specialty drinks including a few beer-based cocktails. Flights of draft beers will be offered as well. Black Squirrel chef Brent Sick will also be in charge in the Libertine kitchen. The focus is on seafood—mussels and clams and po’ boys are among the offerings.
The new Adams Morgan restaurant is one of a number of places to open around the July Fourth weekend. Casa Luca, the casual concept from Fiola chef Fabio Trabocchi, is now preparing pasta in the former Penn Quarter home of Againn. Mike Isabella began spit-roasting beasts at Kapnos at 14th and W streets, Northwest. Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Isabella pal Spike Mendelsohn is doing the steak-frites thing at Béarnaise.
Libertine. 2435 18th St., NW; 202-450-3106. Open weekdays from 5 to close and weekdays from noon to close.