Tag Archives: Adams Morgan

Russia House & Bourbon

I know, I know! I’m running about a week and a half behind on my reviews/catching everyone up on my seemingly exciting (not really) life, haha.  Last Saturday, I was invited out with some friends to Russia House.  Prior to this time, I had only been there once and that was for an after party to a friend’s company party.  Me and my gentleman guest showed up to the gathering slightly late to find my friend gathered on the third floor (the piano bar floor).  To review the general aesthetic and floor plans of Russia House, you proceed up an outside staircase at this north Dupont location and enter a very dimly lit foyer.  Upon a quick inspection of the place, you can see that there are many nooks and crannies to gather with friends or get a bit cozier.  There are four floors in Russia House, each offering a slightly different feeling (although I’m not quite certain I feel comfortable speaking as to all the levels).  My time at Russia House has been spent predominantly on the third floor.  This floor is the piano bar level. It has a more open feeling and seems more about mingling than the other levels.  The other levels contain more table space and appear to be more about seated gatherings. Approaching the bar, I had to order a vodka drink.  Going for my typical vodka tonic, it did taste much smoother than other locations (caveat – I have no clue what type of vodka they used nor the corresponding price thanks to the gentleman accompanying me).  I would assume that a location called Russia House though would limit the types of crappy vodka it carries, haha.

The length of time we spent at Russia House was limited.  High drinks prices discouraged my friends.  We left after one drinking and some socializing.  I was slightly surprised that there weren’t more people there given it was a Saturday night, even if it was slightly early (11pm).  Russia House is definitely a classy location.  It can accommodate large groups of people – actually would be my preference for attending.  All references I have heard to Russia House is typically in a swanky connotation and would tend to agree, but not overtly snobby.  If I haven’t made it clear, I love locations with multiple floors and places to get lost/explore.  Russia House does fit that mold very well.  You could think of it almost as a more sophisticated (read expensive) and low-key Local 16.

After Russia House, we trekked over to Adams Morgan to attend Bourbon.  The heels might have been a poor decision, haha.  I had never been to this location of Bourbon before.  Almost a year ago I went on a date at the location in Glover Park.  At the time (seemingly eons before starting this blog), the food was delicious and my custom cocktail was a little bit too adventurous (super herby….like drinking a garden – very fresh).  I now am more acquainted with my personal preferences.  This most recent visitation of Bourbon was quite the different experience.  We entered the Adams Morgan location to find a wait to get upstairs for dancing.  In the meantime, decided to grab a drink on the first level.  Sorry, that gentleman insisted on buying this drink too so I am uncertain of the price, but I would guess average price for this neighborhood (not more than $8 for the vodka tonic with rail liquor).

Yes, Bourbon may be located in Adams Morgan, but this is not the stereotypical AdMo bar.  The upstairs and first floor had very different atmospheres. The first level was relaxed, but still upbeat – definitely a good balance.  After a short wait and some amusing banter with the bouncer to get upstairs, we were finally able to get our dance on ;-).  Upstairs was crowded, but not obnoxious.  I was definitely much appreciative that they did take such care in counting people upstairs.  There was also a bar upstairs, but it was definitely much easier to get served downstairs.  The DJ mixed top 40s while IFC was projected onto the wall…at the time it was somewhere between soft and hard-core porn showing #notcomplaining.  Overall, Bourbon was a pretty awesome place that I definitely look forward to coming back to because of the amazing balance of space (chill and dancing in one venue).  It worked well for my small-medium group of friends, but could also see this being an interesting place to meet people.

Things to look forward to readers:  This weekend marks my one year drink anniversary.  Oh look at all we can learn about ourselves in just a year.  Thank you for your votes on my poll; it looks like I’ll be strolling around U Street on Saturday :-).  Still uncertain of the exact lineup of bars, but I’m hoping to start early (around dinner time) and working my way around the neighborhood – making sure to hit some standard/favorite locations of mine, but also trying some new along the way.  Promise to do my best to keep coherent memories and take pictures for the post-celebration review!

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The Black Squirrel

This is in Adams Morgan??? When going to The Black Squirrel, do not expect the typical AdMo experience.  This place has a much more relaxed bar feeling and multiple levels all with seemingly great lighting.  Conveniently, it’s located next to Amsterdam Falafel and right on the main drag of 18th Street.  The first time I came here, I actually had not started drinking yet, but found the upstairs to be quite inviting and cozy for my small group of friends.  We settled into a corner window seat with drinks from the bar as ‘hip’ music played in the background, but not in glaring fashion.  We started the night here and later proceeded to get our dance on elsewhere.  I certainly enjoyed the mingling atmosphere that was encouraged here.  Later times coming to this establishment, we most frequently chose the upstairs, but have also ventured to the long downstairs bar.  There is a street level bar as well, but I haven’t experienced that one.  If you are in a larger group of friends and like cozy corners/window seats, I would most definitely recommend the upstairs.  Music isn’t so loud that you can’t talk, which is hard to find in this neighborhood on the main drag.

It is also possible to reserve that space for a party, which if I wanted a mellow birthday experience, would say it’d be a great idea.  Downstairs is better suited for small groups of people during the main weekend hours (after 11pm), unless you don’t mind standing around.  Bartenders are fairly friendly, but not always at the top of their game.  One time I ordered one of my regular drinks – a screwdriver – and was served OJ and rum, oy.  I may be a relatively novice drinker, but I know my vodka drinks.  I let it go and have not had any other issues with drink orders.  Prices are reasonable ranging from $6-7 for a simple cocktail.  As much as I enjoy a good cocktail, The Black Squirrel is more noted for its beer.  My gentleman friends certainly do enjoy the variety of beer and diverse selection on the different levels of the bar.  And don’t worry folks, to accompany the large beer selection, The Black Squirrel has a few TVs set to sports channels for the perfect hipster beer-sports combo without a sports bar atmosphere.

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