When Todd Thrasher‘s pioneering cocktail bar PX and adjoining fish and chip spot Eamonn’s closed last summer, the departure left a hole in Old Town’s dining and drinking scene. Today, a new cocktail-and-seafood duo opens in the same split-level location: the Handover, a minimalist temaki (sushi hand roll) counter, and cocktail bar King’s Ransom.
The concepts are co-owned by Ian McGrath and Teddy Kim, the team behind Alexandria spots like Chop Shop Taco and the People’s Drug. They’ve recruited both food and beverage talents from the latter. At the Handover, chef Melvin Urrutia plays to an intimate 14-seat crowd. The chef rolls nori cones to-order, filled with ingredients like spicy tuna, beef bulgogi, or pickled daikon radish. Other offerings include sashimi and snacks like miso soup and seaweed salad. In addition to the temaki counter, Urrutia is also behind a menu of bento boxes, shared plates, chirashi bowls, and poke for King’s Ransom.
While the Handover is a casual, light-flooded space, King’s Ransom boasts an opposite aesthetic: dim, date night-friendly lighting and luxe touches of gold throughout.Beverage director Jon Schott and Hank’s Oyster Bar alum Alex Taylor helm the bar program. Taylor describes the cocktail menu as “globally nomadic,” and pulls from his experiences traveling the world as a child with a parent in the Foreign Service. The duo shake and stir drinks for a range of palates, including a spiffed-up rum and Coke made with house cola syrup and elaborate tiki drinks.
“There’s just something about that feeling of escapism” says Schott. “We’re not a speakeasy…but it feels like you’re a million miles away and we wanted to give that feeling to people too.”
Despite the physical divide, there’s an exchange of ingredients between the sushi counter and the bar counter. Take the King Ransom’s version of a dirty martini, shaken with fresh wasabi-infused vodka and green tea vermouth. Served in a kettle, the classic olive is swapped out for a garnish of edamame and pickled ginger.
The bar also serves a small selection of sakes and, according to the owners, boasts Virginia’s only Suntory Toki Highball Machine. The bar gadget makes perfectly chilled whiskey sodas to-order, carbonating the water a la minute to produce fine, Champagne-like bubbles. A selection of highball drinks will change seasonally. For those choosing not to imbibe, the drink menu includes three zero-proof concoctions using Seedlip spirits.
The Handover and King’s Ransom. 728 King St., Alexandria.