A Plant-Filled Vegan Cocktail Bar Debuts in Dupont Circle

The owners of DC Vegan deli and catering go lush with Botanical Bar.

DC Vegan opens a Botanical Bar in Dupont. Photograph by Jim Folliard, Gearshift Studios

Washingtonians can now add “vegan bar” to the list of exciting plant-based ventures opening around town. Husband-and-wife duo Michael Jantz Moon and Leah Curran Moon are opening Botanical Bar in Dupont Circle on Saturday, May 28. The verdant indoor/outdoor space—with seating for 36 indoors and 48 between a patio and parklet—is an extension of their adjoining DC Vegan catering company and plant-based, Italian-American deli.

The Moons apply the same holistic, no-waste philosophies to the bar as they do at the restaurant, where they’ve eliminated all animal products. Wines—often made with casein or gelatin—are all natural, and produced using limestone or activated charcoal. Instead of thickening cocktails with egg white, bar manager Starla Newman swaps in aquafaba (chickpea water). 

Her drinks employ fresh juices, herbs, and edible flowers. Imbibers can sip on fresh peach bellinis, strawberry-infused Negronis, and concoctions like the Flower of the Vine with vodka, the non-alcoholic and herbaceous Seedlip Garden spirit, B-12 droplets, and edible flowers. Michael Moon, who doesn’t drink alcohol, also helped create a number of zero-proof options, such as a refreshing Mediterranean tonic with more Seedlip Garden, droplets of basil oil, and pea shoots. 

The full DC Vegan menu is available at the bar, and there are some new snacks like Tuscan white-bean spread with Calabrian chili oil; almond-ricotta focaccia; TGI Fridays-inspired potato skins; and crispy king-trumpet mushrooms masquerading as calamari. Michael, who’s from Cleveland, and Leah, a Rochester native, say it’s important for them to stick to their Italian-American family roots. 

“Both Michael and I went plant-based ten-to-15 years ago,” Leah says. “We  wanted to eliminate animals from our diet but we didn’t want to eliminate our culture or food we grew up eating. A lot of these recipes are Italian or family recipes we love.” 

DC Vegan and Botanical Bar. 1633 P 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.