Allegory, the speakeasy-style bar hidden behind a wall of books in downtown DC’s Eaton hotel, reopened last August after a long pandemic closure. Although the dimly lit lounge’s drinks menu has always been ever-changing, it’s latest iteration might be its most ambitious. The children’s-book-inspired tome clocks in at 23 pages, has a title (Down the Rabbit Hole), and is divided into 12 chapters, just like Alice in Wonderland.
It’s filled with custom illustrations from DC artist Erik Thor Sandberg, who is also behind the bar’s decorative focal point: a mural depicting civil rights figure Ruby Bridges as a child on a mystical journey, battling Wonderland monster the Jabberwocky. Bridges, at age 6, was the first Black child to integrate a Louisiana elementary school.
Head bartender Deke Dunne oversees the drinks, which were inspired by Sandberg’s mural and the illustrations of Bridges. “This is somebody’s story that is super powerful and we really want to get deep into it,” he says. “We try to put the guests in her shoes: What would you be like as a six-year-old going into a crazy chaotic, scary world like that? To think about racism and where it comes from?”
Dunne’s “Looking Glass” cocktail is a fusion of a vodka soda and Japanese highball, which is topped with Champagne/lime sherbet. There are classics like a mai tai, Ramos gin fizz, and margarita. And some drinks highlight other Allegory bartenders’ personal backgrounds. Princess Johnson’s “Crow from Tobago” is a bold, tropical mix of gin, rye, carrot juice, lime, and Trinidadian curry. Julio Zavala, who is from El Salvador, riffs on a junglebird with his “Jabberwocky Part Dos,” made with whiskey, nance and jocote juices (fruits found in El Salvador), amaro infused with Salvadoran coffee and cacao, and pineapple juice.
The cocktails will be available for six months, after which Dunne hopes to partner with a new artist.
Allegory at Eaton DC. 1201 K St., NW.