Photo: Dannah Strauss

Behind the Bar: Park View’s No Kisses

When the team behind Colony Club looked to open their next cocktail bar, they aimed to recreate the kind of spot they’d frequent. That meant a cool vibe and décor, good beer, a solid wine list, and approachable, well-crafted drinks. The result is No Kisses, which opened next door to Colony in DC’s Park View neighborhood at the end of March.

Like Colony Club, which operates as a coffee shop by day and a bar by night, No Kisses hopes to attract a broad audience to its indoor and outdoor spaces.

“We tried to keep the barriers to entry relatively low,” says Max Zuckerman, one of the bar’s three partners.

That means finding a variety of beverages, not just upscale creations. The cocktail program is overseen by Cody Hochheiser, who brings experience from DC institutions like 2 Amys and Pineapple & Pearls. He says his menu aims to hit many of the main spirits categories, from bourbon to mezcal. That goes for flavor profiles, too.

“I want to get fruity, I want to get herby, I want to get briny, I want to get boozy,” Hochheiser says. “There’s something for everyone.”

Among their cocktails is the NK Negroni, a variation on the classic elevated with Ford’s Gin, Vermouth del Professore, and both Alta Verde and local Capitoline Tiber amaro. Get spicy with the Tequila Cimarrón-infused Chili Wise or go for a simple Old Fashioned made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, nocino walnut liqueur, and black walnut and orange bitters.

Cocktails range from $11 to $13, and the menu figures to change as the weather warms, gravitating toward more refreshing cocktails like spritzes. Aside from liquor, the bar stocks both cheap and upscale beers, including a bunch of hand-imported selections. There’s also a more robust wine selection than most cocktails bars have on hand.

“If someone wants to just come in for a glass and not think about it, that’s fine,” Zuckerman says. “But we did put a lot of thought into making a really cool wine list.”  

The bar is full of funky touches, including ceiling lights that change color, velvet-lined booths and dark wood floors. It reflects a cozy den designed for getting comfortable. Come later this spring, drinks can be enjoyed on picnic tables in the expansive outdoor “garden” shared with Sonny’s Pizza, also owned by the same trio. On that note: food isn’t served inside No Kisses, but customers are welcome to hang al fresco to enjoy a slice of Sonny’s pie along with their cocktails.

As far as the name, Zuckerman prefers not to dive too deep, saying only that it came from a short story the co-owners were reading while working on the business; it’s sure to be a talking point among guests. After four years running Colony Club, the team hopes they have a tried-and-true formula that will make locals feel at home, whether it’s sharing a bottle of wine or meeting up for a date.

“The neighborhood thing is pretty real to us,” Zuckerman says.

Follow No Kisses on Instagram @nokissesbar and learn more about the bar at www.nokissesbar.com.

No Kisses: 3120 Georgia Ave. NW, DC; www.nokissesbar.com


Shrub Cocktails: Next-Level Drinks with a Fruity, Acidic Kick
As DC eases into spring, the biting winds and slushy sidewalks of winter are slowly being replaced by warm breezes and flower beds. Inside, cocktail bars are welcoming the new season with vinegar-based fruit shrubs, which can add depth and complexity to any drink.

“We love shrubs for cocktails because you get your acid and your sweet at the same time,” says Charlie Berkinshaw, owner at DC-based Element Shrub. “If people are weirded out by putting vinegar in a drink, I usually tell them to just think about shrubs as the acidic component – with a little sweet – of the drink.”

Here are four spots to order this season that take advantage of this unique product.

Hank’s Cocktail Bar
Several shrubs are used in Hank’s “Market Fresh” cocktails, including the scotch-based Peat and Pineapples. The smoky cocktail includes Talisker whisky, jalapeno shrub, pineapple and spicy “fire” tincture. For something bubbly, choose the We’re Just Friends, which comes with cava and a rotating house shrub or syrup. 1624 Q St. NW, DC; www.hankscocktailbar.com

Momofuku CCDC
Celebrate April with the spritz-inspired Pocket Full of Cherry. The colorful drink uses Mancino Sakura vermouth, sparkling sake, rhubarb shrub and Gran Classico bitter liqueur. 1090 I St. NW, DC; https://ccdc.momofuku.com

Quadrant
The new and extensive travel-themed menu at this Ritz-Carlton cocktail bar features The Covered Bridge with honey gin, Calvados brandy, and a house-made blueberry, lemon and ginger shrub. It’s rounded out with fresh lemon juice, honey and orange blossom water, lemon bitters, and an egg white. 1150 22nd St. NW, DC; www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/washington-dc/dc/dining/quadrant

The Smith
Kick back with a glass of Santiago Punch blended with pisco, house-made pineapple Thai basil shrub and Green Chartreuse. The drink gets additional tropical notes with the addition of velvet falernum, lime and bitters. 1314 U St. NW, DC; www.thesmithrestaurant.com/location/u-street

Learn more about Element Shrub at www.elementshrub.com.