Russian restaurant Mari Vanna (1141 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC) kicked off its second anniversary Tuesday with a birthday party in its swank third level, welcoming guests with a DJ spinning the likes of “Mr. Saxobeat” by Alexandra Stan and “Cool Kids” by Echosmith.
The lovely third floor lounge of the restaurant is playfully adorned with Russian records and photos of Russian musicians along its walls, and guests were seated in comfortable booths and homey settees.
Although the ambience was cozy, the real draw of the night for Mari Vanna’s patrons was its wide selection of house infused vodkas.
The house infused vodka bar includes such diverse delights as horseradish, cowberry, honey pepper, plum, cucumber and dill, and seaberry vodkas. This reporter, purely in the interest of exploring the vodkas, sampled tastes of less adventurous raspberry and apple and cinnamon vodkas. Both are absolutely wonderful full-bodied drinks with a plentifully powerful fruit flavor. The juiciness of the raspberry vodka particularly made it surprisingly easy to drink.
Outside of the DJ on the third floor, guests on all three levels of the restaurant were treated to the music of accordionist Peter Dranga, who wandered minstrel-like among diners and revelers as he played traditional folks tunes.
Since its DC opening in February 2013 (its fourth location after the original in St. Petersburg, Russia, and expansions to London and New York), Mari Vanna has offered its Slavic food and kitschy atmosphere to enthusiastic crowds, and judging from its birthday party celebrations, we can expect it to continue to do so for years to come!