DC Travel Guide  |  Food

DC’s Pop-Up Cherry Blossom Bar is the Most Festive Place to Drink This Spring

From the crew behind the Christmas Bar

The Cherry Blossom Pub closes Saturday. Photography by Farrah Skeiky

The team behind DC’s pop-up Christmas Bar (a.k.a. Miracle on Seventh Street) are back with another ephemeral watering hole—this time celebrating spring. The Cherry Blossom Pub opens today in Shaw, taking over Mockingbird Hill and Southern Efficiency at 1843 and 1841 Seventh Street, Northwest through April 15.

Owner Derek Brown and his team spent six weeks building an ode to DC’s Cherry Blossom Festival. The result is a mashup of Japanese and District themes, with a little Super Mario Brothers thrown in for character.

“We couldn’t just make it literal,” says Brown. “We had to keep it weird.”

Here’s what to know before you go.

One half of the bar is all blossoms, while the other is themed after Super Mario Bros.

It’s like Christmas Bar, with more space

Miracle on Seventh Street was notorious for lines up to three hours long (seriously), and zero elbow room inside. While there’s no telling if blossom mania will strike, more space is guaranteed. Mockingbird Hill and Southern Efficiency were once separate and narrow spaces, but Brown joined the two bars. Guests can meander through three themed rooms under one roof: a pink-and-white cherry blossom garden filled with waving maneki-neko cats, another dedicated to Super Mario World (complete with plucky theme music and Piranha Plants bursting from pipes), and a sinister King Koopa room in back. All serve the same menus.

Cocktails are inspired by Japan, like this shareable Flower Power punch.

Drinks aren’t pink and packed with fake cherry

Cherry blossom-themed specials often involve food dye or faux-fruit flavoring. You won’t find either at the pub.

“Throwing a cherry in something or making it pink doesn’t make a good cocktail,” says Brown. “I challenge my friends to dig deeper.”

Barman Paul Taylor designed a menu that includes “serious cocktails,” even when served in feline mugs. Like at star sister bar the Columbia Room, there’s no shortage of sherry, amaro, or interesting liqueurs. Options on the cocktail menu range from easy-drinkers like the tiki-esque Neko Colada with miso-infused rum and coconut, to boozier sips such as a the Press Start + A with Japanese whiskey, amaro, and Cynar artichoke liqueur. More straightforward options include sakes—yes, there’s a bomb—and Japanese beers and whiskeys.

Just because the cocktails are fun doesn’t mean there aren’t adult ingredients, like the amaro-spiked “It’s A Me, Amario.”

You’ll want to try the katsu sando

A small food menu mostly takes cues from Japan, with a few Italian items that the Mario bros might fancy. Snacks include gyoza dumplings alongside mozzarella-stuffed sticky rice arancini. For something heartier, try a “katsu sando” with a crispy pork cutlet and Asian slaw, or pasta with Jersey-style Sunday gravy.

Tourists are welcome

Cherry blossom crowds often stick to the Tidal Basin and downtown, but Brown hopes his festive bar will draw tourists out of their typical zones.

“Get off the Mall,” says Brown. “Start here and then go have a fish sandwich at Drift [on 7th]. Go have a local beer at Right Proper. Shaw is the real DC.”

Cherry Blossom Pub. 1843 and 1841 Seventh Street, Northwest. Open on a first-come, first-serve basis: 5 pm to 12:30 am, Sunday through Thursday; 5 pm to 1:30 am, Friday and Saturday.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.