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Stars and Bars: The Speak, an Underground Cocktail Bar, Opens on K St

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The Speak owner Seth McClelland
The Speak owner Seth McClelland

The new underground cocktail bar by Seth McClelland, The Speak, is open for business. They serve a wide array of tasty cocktails, including the Old Cuban and Aviation.

I was able to try a few during the preview event on May 12th. Upon arrival, I was greeted at the top of the stairs, and directed to go down and ‘through the looking glass’.

Somewhat intrigued, I snuck down, wondering if I was entering the basement of an abandoned building.

Walking through the stairway door, there was no obvious way to proceed. Yet a mirror against the wall beckoned. The looking glass, when pulled, became the entrance to the cozy and dark The Speak, as envisioned by McClelland.

After two years in New York City, McClelland returned to his hometown, DC, with a relaxed interpretation of a speakeasy. “I want this to feel like a classic neighborhood bar with super friendly staff, while also offering a cocktail menu rich with a variety of ingredients, house-made syrups and unique garnishing,” says McClelland. “Our goal is to give customers the ability to start their cocktail journey in a place where they feel comfortable.”

McClelland also doubled as designer for his 1,750 square-foot, 100-person bar, invoking a homely aesthetic inspired by the 1920’s prohibition era and the carnival lights that lit up the decade.

My cocktail journey started off with the Old Cuban, and moved on to the Aviation.

The Speak Cocktail
Aviation (typical ingredients: Crème de violette, 1/2 oz Maraschino liqueur, 1 1/2 oz Gin, 1/2 oz Lemon juice)

Jeff Coles, the bartender, and McClelland served the packed bar with an ever flowing mix of cocktails. I did like the Aviation, but may be most partial to the New York Sour, as it was finished with a flourish, with a pour of red wine.

I culminated my cocktail journey with a robust Scofflaw. I was very ‘happy’ with the results.

Cocktails

The Speak (at 1413 K Street (downstairs) NW, DC) will be a great little place to grab a drink with a friend. Prices are not unreasonable, $11 cocktails, $8 vodka shots and $5 beers.

The Speak 1
Inside The Speak

Looking-Glass
Through the looking glass

Don’t Miss: Wire @ Black Cat, 6/6/15

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Wire (Photo by Marylene Mey Web)

Legendary U.K. quartet Wire recently released their 13th studio album, the self-titled Wire, on April 13, and they start a U.S. tour in support of it on May 26 in Portland, Ore.

They perform locally at the Black Cat on Saturday, June 6.

Formed in 1976, Wire gained a new guitarist in the form of Matt Simms, who replaced founding guitarist Bruce Gilbert in 2012. The reinvigorated band have leapt into the studio and the road, regularly releasing and performing material that reminds audiences worldwide that they practically invented post-punk.

In March, Wire released a single, “Split Your Ends,” showcasing the self-titled record’s heavier side.

“Split Your Ends” was written when singer/guitarist Colin Newman asked bassist/vocalist Graham Lewis to send over some unfinished, unformatted text so he wouldn’t be bound by what to use for the chorus. The stuff that Graham sent formed the lyrics of two songs on the new album: “Split Your Ends” and “In Manchester.”

Listen to “Split Your Ends” on YouTube:
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxsdWfdv_yM]

Colin sometimes introduced tracks to the rest of the band right before they entered the studio in order to spur spontaneity. The vocalist said in a press release that he is going to continue to press Wire to release new material instead of resting on their laurels and playing the band’s best-known gems at flashback festivals.

“The point where our personal narratives meet is all about change – moving on and keeping it interesting for ourselves,” he said. “We’re in it for the long haul and this is a one-way trip.”

Critics seem to agree that the trip is worthwhile, as the album Wire has garnered “generally favorable reviews” as aggregated by Metacritic.

“The album borders on monochromatic at times (possibly because there are no songs by Graham Lewis, who provided some of Red Barked Tree and Change Becomes Us’ finest tracks), yet its subtle subversions are thoroughly Wire, and thoroughly befitting the band at this stage in its career,” said All-Music Guide, rating the album four out of five stars.

Tickets are available online and at the Black Cat.

Wire
w/ Julian Lynch
Black Cat
Saturday, June 6
Doors @9pm
$20
All ages

Stars and Bars: Mad Fox Brewing Coming Soon @ Glover Park?

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Bob Tupper with Mad Fox-ers (01)

Bill Madden and Charlie Buettner discuss their Festivus Ale with Bob Tupper at Mad Fox on Dec. 18, 2014.

Sometime in June, microbrewery Mad Fox Brewing could open its DC brewpub (2218 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC) in the Glover Park neighborhood after a long delay.

The Glover Park neighborhood Twitter account @gloverpark retweeted a conversation between @MadFoxBrewing and local @FarewellHider on May 2, wherein Mad Fox stated, “Still working on the space, at least a month or so.”

@FarewellHider replied, “Hopefully you’ll open before the next @gloverpark Day in June. I still have a coupon you handed out last year!” The annual Glover Park Day is Saturday, June 6, this year.

The conversation highlights the long struggle that Mad Fox Brewing faced in opening its brewpub location at this particular address, last home to a gastropub Mayfair and Pine and once home to Town Hall, now relocate a block or two north (2340 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC). As Mad Fox Brewer Bill Madden has recounted in interviews with other publications, the process of restoring the restaurant space soon to be home to the Mad Fox Brewpub took much longer than anticipated.

Mad Fox Brewing first announced its plans to open a second location in addition to its Falls Church microbrewery (444 West Broad St., Suite I, Falls Church, Va.) on August 12, 2013. The initial press release touted plans to open the DC location as a 4,590-square foot taproom with 127 seats before the fourth anniversary of the flagship brewpub “by the end of first quarter 2014, depending on the renovations needed and the permitting process.”

“Glover Park is a wonderful neighborhood that deserves a great beer bar like the Mad Fox Taproom,” said Madden in a statement at the time. Mad Fox has been searching for a location in the nation’s capital for the past 20 months, scouting out 27 neighborhoods throughout the District. “Glover Park offers an ideal fit for our concept and shares similarities with Falls Church in its demographics and overall environment. And just like in Falls Church, we look forward to becoming an active and positive member of the community, contributing to both the economy and the culinary options of the area.”

The DC brewpub plans to offer “draught and English-style cask service, with up to 24 draught and cask options. Diners can expect a full menu with appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, salads and small plates.”

Madden confirmed Mad Fox would brew all beers in Falls Church.

Grapevine: The Passport Program Comes to DC

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Passport-DC
2 for 1 drink specials at 42 DC venues

 

DC Beer reported:

‘Well this is an interesting idea.  The Passport Program is coming to DC, and it’s bringing hot, hot deals all summer long.  Folks who buy a passport get two drinks for the price of one at 42 local venues from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Every stop you make, you get a stamp in your passport, meaning that you can’t double up on your visits, but you should try more new places anyway…while drinking two-for-one drinks.  Just remember what the passport people say: be sure to tip on the price of two drinks.

May 20th, they’re throwing a kickoff party at Suburbia from 5 to 8.   Just register at the link and you’re well on your way to a boozier summer.’

Press release and participating venues:

Don’t Miss: The Nationals’ Homestand vs. the Yankees and Phillies, 5/19-5/20/15 & 5/22-5/24/15

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Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper is on fire

The Nationals are playing well in May and have a few good Memorial Day and military-themed promotions for their home games this week.

They are also adding a few new features to Nationals Park, like a stand that sells biscuit sandwiches (Virginia Country Kitchen) and a new team store.

Plus they are playing both the hated Yankees (May 19-20) and the Phillies (May 22-24), so you know it will be a fun homestand!

For game tickets and more information, call 202.675.NATS(6287) or visit nationals.com/tickets.

Tuesday, May 19 vs. New York Yankees

  • Nationals Tote Bag Presented by MLB Network: The first 25,000 fans to enter the ballpark through ALL GATES will receive a special 10-Year Anniversary tote bag presented by MLB Network.
  • Opening of the new Main Team Store: Join the Nationals in celebrating the opening of the new Team Store on Tuesday evening before the game! The new space will be nearly double the size of the previous store and stocked with Nationals merchandise.
  • Virginia Country Kitchen: Located in Section 113, this new stand is dedicated to representing the state of Virginia, and will serve mouth-watering biscuit sandwiches, snacks and Virginian beer and wine. With the opening of this stand, flavors from the D.C., Maryland and Virginia regions are now all available at Nationals Park!

Wednesday, May 20 vs. New York Yankees

  • Share a Coke: Beginning at 4:30 p.m., fans can personalize a Coke can with the Share a Coke initiative. The temporary stand will be located at the bottom of the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk and will be open until 8:30 p.m., while supplies last.
  • Distinguished Public Service Award Presentation: In a pregame ceremony, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus will present the Distinguished Public Service Award to the Washington Nationals, the Navy League and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) for efforts following the Washington Navy Yard shooting. Presented by the U.S. Navy, this award honors civilians for heroic acts or exceptionally outstanding service of substantial and long-term benefit to the Navy, Marine Corps, or Department of the Navy as a whole. It is the highest recognition that the Secretary of the Navy may pay to a civilian not employed by the Department of the Navy.

Friday, May 22 vs. Philadelphia Phillies

Excursion: The Sierra Club’s Annual One Day Hike — 4/25/15

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2015 One Day Hike
Enjoying the 2015 One Day Hike

50 kilometers. Or 100 kilometers. Take your pick.

The 42nd One Day Hike (ODH) along the C&O Canal Towpath took place on Saturday, April 25th.

The 100K hikers start in Georgetown at 3am, while the 50K hikers start in White’s Ferry, Maryland at 10am. Both groups end in Bolivar, West Virginia (just up the hill from Harper’s Ferry) at the community center.

This was my 4th time participating in the 50K hike. By all accounts it was my fastest time yet, shaving 30+ minutes off of 2014’s time.

Yet the One Day Hike is not a race. It’s not meant to be competitive. Some people treat it that way, but many are happy to enjoy the scenery along the Potomac River and finish with minimal blisters and soreness.

I’ve found the ODH to be one of the most well-organized and well-supported walking or racing events in the DC area. In no small part to the volunteers that plan it, manage it and those volunteers that come out early and stay late to prepare food and drinks, give medical aid and patrol along the trail between support stations to help and give encouragement. ODH co-chair and volunteer coordinator, Mike Darzi, is at the forefront of this successfully run event, communicating with participants and sorting out the details each year.

ODH Sign

 

Diana Partridge, first-time hiking the 50K, “The hike was beautiful and very well-organized. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I’m excited to try the 100k next year.”

Each support station (four stations for the 50K; seven for the 100K) is a veritable feast of snacks, sandwiches, soup, coffee, Gatorade, fruit, candy and more. I like the popcorn and the trail mix with M&Ms. And blue Gatorade is possibly the most delicious liquid after 20 miles of walking. Then, for the finishers at the Bolivar Community Center, there is chili (turkey and veggie), salads, sodas and pizza. I probably eat better on this hike than on most days.

The support stations also feature a medical tent where volunteers give aid to the hikers, including foot care for any pesky blisters.

Mike O’Brien, first-time medical volunteer, “I was happy to volunteer and was encouraged to see the people who I had treated at the half-way mark of the 100K, finish. Next year I’m going to join the hike.”

Once you’ve finished the hike, some people take the shuttle bus back to the Shady Grove Metro stop. But you’re tired by then, and more travel is the last thing you need. The best option is to stay in Bolivar or Harper’s Ferry at a hostel or hotel and then catch the (only) train back to DC the next morning after breakfast.

A worthy event to consider for next year!

 

The Sierra Club’s One Day Hike
Registration is usually at the beginning of February and the hike takes place the last weekend in April.
$50 for either the 50K or 100K

 

Results and Tips

Music Park: Kaiser Chiefs @ Rams Head Live (Baltimore, Md.) — 5/12/15

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The Kaiser Chiefs

The mighty Kaiser Chiefs blazed a righteous path through one of their signature songs, “I Predict a Riot,” causing an already excited audience to stomp around the dance floor with even more fervor.

Around Town: Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology @ National Geographic Museum

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkdcHArwczY]

‘I like Indiana.’ ‘We named the dog Indiana.’

 

A cool looking exhibit has arrived at the National Geographic Museum.

All about Indiana Jones and a look at the field and science of archaeology.

There will be props, concept art and costumes from the four Indiana Jones movies and an introduction video from Harrison Ford.

The adventure starts with an interactive hand-held device, with info, photos and videos. It guides you along the “Indy Trail”, through various zones of the exhibit.

I often intend on visiting the National Geographic Museum more often, this will be an excellent excuse.

The exhibit will be there throughout the rest of the year, but don’t wait too long!

 

Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology
National Geographic Museum (1145 17th Street NW)
May 14, 2015-January 3, 2016
10am-6pm
$15 Adults; $10 Children; $12 subscribers/military/seniors
Free for Annual Pass members

Around Town: VinoFest 2015 @ Storey Park — 5/9/15

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IMG_6674
Dwight Weidenhamer (right) was one of the capable wine consultants at VinoFest 2015.

VinoFest is a devilishly simple concept — set up a stage for some bands and curate a range of alluring wines for festival visitors to sample in an accessible place with good elbow room.

And so VinoFest 2015 welcomed a lot of wine and music lovers to Storey Park (1005 First St. NE, DC), essentially a parking lot waiting for mixed use development to occur in NoMa, in its second annual edition on Saturday, May 9. The lot proved spacious, the bands proved entertaining and the wines proved delicious to the hundreds and hundreds of revelers who dropped by.

The festival opened at 3pm for VIP ticketholders and then at 5pm to regular ticketholders. The VIP ticketholders certainly got the better deal. During the first two hours of access, they were able to hit the wine-sampling tent for unlimited small pours of the offerings. After 5pm, guests cashed in an allotted ticket to get a sample of wines from Spain, Australia, California and elsewhere around the world. By 630pm, the lines for wine samples were quite long, proving the popularity of the festival for wine-starved party hoppers.

Wine

With the assistance of wine consultant Dwight Weidenhamer, my party sampled several rather nice wines perfect for the hot summer-like weather. We initially enjoyed the Fritz de Katz Riesling, from Mosel, Germany, which had a wonderfully crisp texture and a medium body.

We also welcomed SeaGlass sauvignon blanc from Santa Barbara, Calif., a slightly acidic, tart wine that nonetheless offered some delightful refuge from the hot day.

Ultimately, however, we were completely won over by the sparkling wines. The Fleuraison Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine, made from white Arien grapes from the La Mancha region of Spain, was refreshing with a taste of flowers and a touch of butter. Our absolute favorite proved to be a big surprise — Summer Breeze, a U.S. bottled sparkling wine of Brazilian grapes billed as a “crackling white.” Deliciously dry and cideresque, this wine drew us back for multiple tastings.

IMG_6675

Around Town: Return of the Summer Drive-In Series @ Union Market, 6/5/15

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UnionMarket_DriveIn-104

Press release:

‘On Friday, June 5, 2015, Union Market will bring back its wildly popular drive-in movie series. Best known for honoring themed movies, the June 2015 series will “flashback” every Friday, rolling out films that salute the ‘80s and ‘90s decades. The June line-up will feature blockbuster hits Jurassic Park, Pretty Woman, Space Jam and Beverly Hills Cop. Union Market’s June Drive-In Series is supported by Shinola, the makers of handcrafted, American-built watches, bicycles, leather goods and journals.

The classic American pastime will take place in Union Market’s spacious parking lot, projected on the two-story front wall. The fare is $10 per car, or free in the picnic area for walk-ups & bikers on a first come, first serve basis. Car passes can be purchased here, with a portion of ticket sales benefitting the Wheatley Education Campus, located in DC’s nearby Trinidad neighborhood. Patrons can either tune in through a car radio or listen over the market’s loud speakers.

The DC Rollergirls will return to this year’s series, on-hand delivering speedy snacks and drinks on wheels. All 40 Union Market vendors will remain open for service, and cinephiles craving a salty-sweet mashup will enjoy complimentary Shinola Cola and popcorn throughout the evening.’

Movie Line-up

  • Friday, June 5 – Jurassic Park
  • Friday, June 12 – Pretty Woman
  • Friday, June 19 – Space Jam
  • Friday, June 26 – Beverly Hills Cop

 

Summer Drive-In Series
Union Market Parking Lot (13905 5th St. NE)
Starts Friday, June 5
Gates at 6:00pm (close at 7:45pm)
Film at 8:00pm
Car pass $10 (Walk-ups Free – first come/first serve) Passes here
21+ to drink