There’s a discreet new bar in Shaw with no name or telephone, only an address. Patrons enter a subterranean, fire-lit space for cocktails made with small-batch spirits, fresh juices, and herbs.
Just don’t call 600 T Street, Northwest a speakeasy.
“A speakeasy to me is about prohibition and that time period,” says owner Stephen Lawrence. “People make it into a cliche concept—that’s not what I’m doing.”
Instead, Lawrence says he’s forgoing a name because he wants patrons’ experiences to speak for themselves.
“Signs are easy,” says Lawrence, who lives in the apartment above. “It’s much more personal to discover a place and then describe it to your friends.”
For a tiny, cabin-like space, there’s a lot going on. A log-burning fireplace casts a glow around the 34-seat room, while wood covers almost every inch (even the toilet seats). Lawrence, who grew up on a farm in North Carolina and worked in construction, built out the space with a mix of salvaged and refurbished woods, including the original ceiling beams from the 120 year-old building, and flooring from his grandmother’s home down south. He also owns and helped construct the other buildings on the block, which currently house Cafe Boheme, Rito Loco, and its rooftop bar El Techo.
If you’re wondering about the crazy-looking light fixture–that’s a peace sign-shaped chandelier made of rifles, fashioned by youths Lawrence’s artist-brother works with in juvenile detention. The soundtrack is also eclectic, with a mix of soul, jazz, and blues alongside artists from Nigeria and Mali.
Like the bar, cocktails go unnamed. Barkeeps Bryan Tate and Mike Wetterauer created a “spirit-forward” menu based on small-batch liquors and liqueurs, fresh juices, and herbs. Sit by the fire—formally the early 19th-century building’s coal furnace—and you might want a Kentucky brandy with house-made cider, rosemary, and lemon. Other drinks push creative boundaries, such as 12 year-old Scotch with carrot puree, cilantro, jalapeño, and a creamy egg white (though prices run standard, $12 to $15). Patrons are also welcome to order their preferred concoctions alongside light snack like cheese and olives.
Lawrence admits that by not titling his creation, it’s up for interpretation. People may describe the bar favorably. Or not. Or in a straightforward way like “600 T” or “that place with no name.”
“Everyone wants to figure it out so they can name it,” says Lawrence. “It’s organic, just let it go.”
600 T St., NW. No phone. Open Wednesday through Saturday, 5 PM to 3 AM (hours may vary slightly).