Two World’s Best Bartenders Are Collaborating for DC’s New Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Bar

NYC's Katana Kitten and DC's Silver Lyan come together March 31 for an immersive cocktail picnic experience.

Ryan Chetiyawardana (left) and Masa Urushido come together for a cherry blossom pop-up. Photograph courtesy of Silver Lyan.

We’re hitting peak bloom early this week, but you’ll still be able to picnic underneath pretty blossoms in April thanks to DC’s newest cherry blossom pop-up bar. Sure, the Penn Quarter venture will be Insta-worthy, but there’s substance to match the style thanks to a collaboration between two globally celebrated bar talents: Japanese native Masa Urushido, owner of NYC Japanese-America cocktail bar Katana Kitten, and London-based Ryan Chetiyawardana (aka Mr Lyan), whose Silver Lyan will host the pop-up from Thursday, March 31 through April 2. 

The immersive pop-up is inspired by hanami, “flower viewing,” and the collaborative spirit behind Japan’s 1912 gift of cherry trees to the United States. 

“We use that as a steer—the beauty when you exchange knowledge and let people in,” says Chetiyawardana, who operates whimsical cocktail bars in Amsterdam and London as well his first-ever US venture in DC. 

Guests can reserve two types of experiences in the subterranean cocktail bar—a former bank vault in the Riggs DC hotel that will be transformed into a springtime wonderland. A “hanami-style picnic experience” includes Japanese snacks like onigiri (rice balls), sakura mochi, and a strawberry-cream sando alongside cocktails showcasing Suntory spirits and fun surprises. You might see a sakura spin on Mr. Lyan’s famous Jello shots,” which he says “make it feel quite adult but also unadulterated fun.” Online reservations are $75 per person. 

There are also a la carte celebrations in the  Cabinet Room, which will also be decked out in blooms. Walk-ins can sip a variety of highballs—a specialty of Urushido, author of The Japanese Art of the Cocktail—such as the sakura with Haku vodka, Pocar (a Japanese sports drink), salted cherry blossom, and soda. Drinks are available through late night alongside Japanese-American bar snacks like nori fries and mortadella katsu sandos. 

“Masa always brings unbridled fun to everywhere he works,” says Chetiyawardana of the collab, which will be the first time Urushido and his team will be mixing drinks in DC. “We don’t want it to feel like any other event. We want it to be over the top in a thoughtful way.”

Katana Kitten x Silver Lyan. 900 F St., NW.

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.