Calling All Cherry Blossom Fanatics!
Here’s everything you need to know about the outrageously popular Cherry Blossom Pub in Shaw, which is open through mid-April.
The Pop Up is back! If you missed out on Miracle on 7th Street’s Christmas Bar, check out the Cherry Blossom Pub by Derek Brown. This time the bartender sorcerer is honoring DC’s Cherry Blossom obsession by filling Mockingbird Hill and Southern Efficiency with cherry blossom/Japanese-themed décor and drinks (aka MARIO!).
Things you should know:
- Get in line around 4:30pm on a Monday and you’ll have no problem getting in.
- Drinks to order: I Call Yoshi!; “As We Say in Brooklyn, Banzai;” Neko Colada; and It’s a Me, Amario!
- Don’t steal anything, you rascals. The infamous Neko Colada is no longer served in the lucky cat cup owing to 95% of them being stolen by greedy assholes. I also witnessed a group of girls reach over the bar to take the made-by-hand Mario straws as a souvenir. They were politely asked not to do it again – but come on people, have some class.
- They have food! Chef Evan Scarlatelli combines Japanese and Italian classics to honor the Cherry Blossoms and Mario’s heritage. Definitely get the Pork Katsu sandwich.
- Don’t miss the Washington Monument. The Cherry Blossom Pub mimics the tidal basin with a mural of the popular viewing spot, and the Washington monument directly opposite, fashioned from paper maché. In between you’ll find thousands of blossoms and hand-folded paper cranes.
The pop-up bars have become so successful that they plan to please the people and keep the pop-ups coming. Two major things that are kept in mind when coming up with the themes are Whimsy and Nostalgia - i.e. whimsical cherry blossoms and childhood memories of Mario; or whimsical narwhals and popular 90's Christmas movie classics.
I caught up with Senior Bar Manager, Paul Taylor, for his take on the craze:
HD: How did the idea of the Christmas pop-up come about originally? What made you all decide to continue the pop-ups?
Paul: The idea for Miracle on 7th Street came from Angie Fetherston in conjunction with Greg Boehm of Cocktail Kingdom in New York. December is a traditionally slower month in the bar business and we thought that a some Christmas joy would keep the drinks flowing -- we never imagined that it would be such a phenomenon. After the second Christmas pop-up we realized that we had a special way to share things we love, like D.C.'s famous cherry blossoms, and we decided to go for it.
HD: Take me through the pop-up timeline - how long does it take from concept to doors opening and what kind of work is involved?
Paul: We start working on these months in advance. We have to design, craft and build everything -- I would say the installation takes about 2 months. I can speak to the cocktail side of things a little better and that takes about 2 months as well. From conceptualizing the menu, to tasting and retooling the recipes, to sourcing ingredients and garnishes, purchasing glassware, creating batch recipes and training the staff. It is a very long and involved process because we want everything to be perfect for our guest and efficient for our staff.
HD: What do you do with the decor after the pop up ends?
Paul: Some of the decor we save and some gets tossed. It really depends on what our next concept is and how much mileage/wear and tear has happened to everything.
HD: What's something you want customers to know?
Paul: We have so many amazing people that come through our door everyday. I would like people to keep an open mind to new experiences and enjoy the ride.
HD: When are the best times to get a spot inside?
Paul: The best times are later in the evening or early in the week. We stay open 7 days a week so that hopefully everyone gets a chance to enjoy this.
HD: What's your favorite drink/menu item at cherry blossom pub?
Paul: That's tough, all the cocktails are like my children so choosing a favorite is difficult. I am proud of the whole menu and the way it encompasses a variety of spirits and flavor profiles that are appropriate for the season and the theme. I can say that it's always fun to drink out of a Neko Cat (Neko Colada) or to imbibe a unnaturally green beverage (I call Yoshi), those coincidentally are the top sellers.
HD: What's your goal/hope for the future?
Paul: As long as we're excited by what we're doing, we'll continue to share it with our incredible and very supportive fans.
HD: Who is your favorite Mario character?
Paul: I always liked Bob Omb and Lakitu. Bob Omb because the name is great and Lakitu has glasses so I feel connected with him there.
HD: When you're at work late hours and you're hangry - what's your go to snack?
Paul: Instant Kimchi Ramen prepared American cheese, green onion and rice wine vinegar.