Photos: Trent Johnson

Behind The Bar: June 2017

DC bar patrons, the weather has cleared up and the sun is out, therefore you should be too. To get you started, we went behind the bar at three very different but equally fantastic rooftop options in Petworth, Georgetown and the H Street Corridor, each blending ambiance with unique views of DC. Read on to learn more about these rooftop hotspots.

Homestead 1 (Photo - Trent Johnson)

Jason Williams
Bar Manager, Homestead

On Tap: What’s hot on the drink menu right now?
Jason Williams: We’ve got rosé and sangria on tap, and $5 rosé all day.

OT: What’s the music like on the deck?
JW: We have DJs out here every other Thursday night.

OT: What kind of music do the DJs usually play?
JW: The music starts out pretty EDM-y, and then goes into some old school drum and bass, and techno.

OT: What’s the beer and wine selection like?
JW: All of our beers are DC, Maryland or Virginia beers; we stay hyperlocal with that. All of our ciders but one are from Virginia. We have four different wines on tap: two whites, a rosé and a pinot noir. We’re primarily more of a beer and whiskey-focused place.

OT: How many different whiskeys?
JW: I’m going to say there’s probably over 70 different bottles, including stuff I haven’t even put out yet because of shelving space.

OT: How is the cocktail menu crafted?
JW: Our primary [focus] is making really good classic cocktails.

OT: What do you love about bartending in Petworth?
JW: As in any place, it’s the people. This area is growing and a lot of people in the area are as new to it as we are; just hearing people’s stories and how they ended up in Petworth. A lot of them are young – young professionals, young families. It’s like we’re all growing together.

Jason’s Pick
Blacker The Berry
Bulleit Bourbon
Cardamom syrup

Homestead 3 (Photo - Trent Johnson)

Homestead: 3911 Georgia Ave. NW, DC;

Sally's Middle Name 1 (Photo - Trent Johnson)

Gary Enchelmaier 
Beverage Director, Sally’s Middle Name

On Tap: What cocktails are popular to drink on the patio?
Gary Enchelmaier: The Immaculata, the Argo and the Eleanor are the most popular for patio consumption. The Immaculata is strawberry, tequila and prosecco. Tequila has a little more earthiness to it, which is nice for the strawberry. Then prosecco brightens it up, which makes it nice for the patio.

OT: Do you change up the cocktail menu often?
GE: Every season, except over the summer depending on what shrub I can make and what fruits come through the door. Fresh is the theme of the whole restaurant, so we’re trying to carry that over to the bar as much as possible.

OT: How do you come up with the names for the cocktails?
GE: All of our cocktails are named after a ship or vessel of some sort. The Eleanor was involved in the Boston Tea Party. The Argo is from Jason and the Argonauts. Endurance is one of the ones that went to the North Pole. Immaculata is from Overboard, with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. It’s Goldie Hawn’s yacht.

OT: How would you describe the vibe on the rooftop patio?
GE: It’s definitely laid back because it’s communal seating. If there’s a two-top, there could be someone at the other end of the table with you.

OT: What’s your favorite food and beverage pairing?
GE: The Szechuan ribs are my favorite. If I’m pairing them with a cocktail, I’m probably going to go with something a little bit easier like the Endurance; it has just about every flavor you can have in there.

Gary’s Pick
The Immaculata
Strawberry shrub

Sally's Middle Name 2 (Photo - Trent Johnson) small

Sally’s Middle Name: 1320 H St. NE, DC;

Observatory Rooftop Bar 1 (Photo - Trent Johnson)

Mark Namdar and Lauren Sutton
General Manager and Food & Beverage Director, The Observatory Rooftop Bar at The Graham Georgetown

On Tap: What kind of crowd does the Observatory Rooftop Bar draw in the evenings?
Lauren Sutton: We’re very neighborhood-based. It’s an eclectic mix of individuals. During happy hour, there is an influx of young professionals, tourists and hotel guests.

OT: How does the bar incorporate elements of Georgetown?
LS: The wines we have for our guests are from Virginia. We’re constantly experimenting with DC beer and trying to stay current with how relevant beer has become in the past few years.

OT: What makes the Observatory stand out from other bars in the DC area?
LS: Georgetown is definitely a destination. We maintain a classy young professional crowd, which not all rooftop [bars] in the city can say. We do that in part to maintain the [clientele] that have been coming here since we opened, but also for the comfort of our hotel guests.

OT: Are there any new additions to the food menu?
LS: This year, we have the addition of our raw bar. We have seafood towers, oysters, lobster rolls and things of that nature.

OT: What’s the rooftop crowd drinking this summer?
Mark Namdar: The Observatory Rooftop has always been about champagne.
LS: We’ve also been hit really hard with Moscow mules.

OT: Tell us about the new frozen rosé.
MN: The “frosé” is frozen rosé, but there’s a trick to it: a little strawberry syrup is added to it with some lemon juice to balance it out. We’ve received great feedback so far.

Lauren & Mark’s Pick
Scorpion Bowl (for two)
Orange juice
Almond syrup
Fresh lemon juice

Observatory Rooftop Bar 2 (Photo - Trent Johnson)

The Observatory Rooftop Bar at The Graham Georgetown: 1075 Thomas Jefferson St. NW, DC;


Kayla Marsh

Kayla is a Northern VA native and graduated from JMU in 2016 with a major in media arts and design. With a background in print journalism, she writes about music, food and sometimes sports. You can find her singing in traffic, at a sports bar watching the Nats, eating tacos or live tweeting The Bachelor.