Oyster with caviar, finger lime and almond milk // Photo: Courtesy of Captain Gregory's

Captain Gregory’s on the Rocks

While the exclusivity of some speakeasies can feel slightly intimidating, Captain Gregory’s cuts through the pretension with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The 25-seat room is laden with nautical décor – evidently, the Maine sea captain inspired more than just the name of this venue.

A picture of Captain Gregory himself can be spotted on the wall along with a brightly colored mural that serves as a fun focal point in the room. The relaxed, beachy vibes of this secret bar allow for guests to get comfortable and focus on what really matters – the expertly crafted cocktails and small plates.

The seasonally changing menus and over 300 cocktails in daily rotation are already enough to make the spot notable, but Captain Gregory’s goes one step further by offering creative theme nights and events. I was lucky enough to get to check out one of these exciting events this Thursday when Captain Gregory’s hosted the Salute to Divas Drag Dinner to kick off Mardi Gras.

The evening included cocktails, food and entertainment from Miss Shi-Queeta-Lee’s cast of music’s hottest divas. There aren’t many things that could avoid being overshadowed by performances as fabulous as the Salute to Divas, but each course and cocktail proved that it was able to hold its own.

For my first drink of the evening, I chose the pine-smoked Old Fashioned. Captain Gregory’s take on this classic featured Four Roses Bourbon, burnt sugar and angostura all poured into a glass, smoked with untreated pinewood and garnished with an orange peel.

The smoky flavor of the bourbon and pine was met with the sweet aromas of the burnt sugar syrup and orange to make tipping this one back a truly sensory experience.

Next, I was given my first small plate of the evening. I went with the oyster and caviar trio. These oysters were a welcome change from the traditional hot sauce and saltines, and were instead prepared with almond, caviar, cucumber and finger limes.

Each oyster was plated in a ceramic oyster shell, making for a clean and pleasing presentation. The salt flavor of each oyster was smoothed by the almond, and the finger limes delivered the perfect amount of tanginess.

My second cocktail choice was the Red Devil, prepared with ginger, lime, blueberry, crème de cassis and Thai basil. This cocktail had a bright red hue and a basil sprig garnish, and came with a stainless steel drinking straw – an environmentally friendly detail that I thought was a classy choice.

The medley of flavors in this cocktail were delightfully complex, and the drinkability was almost sinful.

For my final plate of the evening, I went with the scallops. These were cooked to perfection with fennel, shoyu, olive oil, yellow mustard seeds and garlic. The fennel and mustard seeds added dimension to the texture of this dish while the shoyu anchored the delicate sweetness of the scallops with the right amount of umami.

Throughout the evening, if guests weren’t being given their next unique course or cocktail, they were being wowed by the energy of the next dazzling diva. The timing of each detail of the night was carefully planned to keep patrons constantly engaged and presented with something new.

This concept was so fun and well-executed, that it is safe to assume that Captain Gregory’s is a place to watch for future events that continue to push the envelope.

Captain Gregory’s: 804 N Henry St. Alexandria, VA; 703-577-9023; www.captaingregorys.com