Food

A Hotel-Inspired Bar Opens in Bloomingdale (Without a Hotel) 

Truxton Inn debuts with classic cocktails and kolaches.
Truxton Inn opens in Bloomingdale with classic cocktails and hotel-esque vibe. Photography by Evy Mages

Hotel bars can be wonderful places to drink. Typically the cocktails are strong, the vibe is welcoming, and the people are interesting to watch. The team behind McClellan’s Retreat wanted to channel all of these favorable qualities with Truxton Inn, their new hotel-inspired bar in Bloomingdale—minus, of course, the hotel.

“I travel a lot. It’s always cool to sit in a hotel bar and meet people,” says owner Matt Weiss. “The hospitality is really extended.”

Bartender Brian Nixon mixes classics and riffs on classics.

The theme isn’t over-the-top (i.e no bartenders dressed like bellhops). Like McClellan’s Retreat, which takes its name from Civil War General George McClellan, the inspiration is more about a historic look and ambiance. The low-lit, 50-seat space is outfitted with vintage leather chairs and sofas, shelves lined with nicknacks and worn cocktail manuals, and a curving green bar top.

The new space gets an old look thanks to vintage furniture and worn books.

Bartender Brian Nixon is behind the menu of classic cocktails, including daiquiris, martinis, and Manhattans. A list of house “recommendations” riff on tradition, such as the No Se-Groni that swaps gin for mezcal, or a Congressman’s Lunch martini with DC-made Civic Vodka or gin, dry sherry, and pickle brine (just don’t have three, or you will sleep at the Inn). Part of the lineup will rotate seasonally, bringing tiki drinks this summer. While shaken and stirred libations are the focus, Nixon also pours beers and a few interesting wines, including Pratsch vegan rosé that Nixon says is made without using bone-based charcoal or harvesting methods that sweep up critters alongside the grapes.

A curving bar is lit with pineapple lamps.

Thankfully the hotel bar theme doesn’t extend to the prices, with most cocktails clocking in between $11 and $13. The one exception is a $25 Truxton Inn Manhattan made with Whistle Pig rye and Antica Carpano vermouth. Whistle Pig is pricey to start—bottles often retail around $80 and up—but what makes this cocktail special is that it draws from a barrel that Nixon picked out exclusively for his bars at the Vermont distillery.

A small lineup of bar snacks gets creative with flavored popcorn (salt and vinegar, sour cream and onion). More filling are meat and cheese boards, and both sweet and savory pastries from Republic Kolache with options like cinnamon-sugar and a half-smoke kolache made with sausage from neighbor Meats & Foods. Drinkers can match the snacks with specials during happy hour, which includes $6 Old Fashioned cocktails, $5 wines, and the Champagne of beers for $3, because, as Nixon says, “Miller High Life is delicious.”

Truxton Inn. 251 Florida Ave., NW. Monday to Thursday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Friday, 4 p.m. to 3 a.m.; Saturday, 3 p.m. to 3 a.m.; Sunday, 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. 

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Anna Spiegel
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.