In the Shadow of Skull + Bones: The Reopening of D.C.’s First Microbar
September 26, 2022 @ 11:00am
Society, D.C.’s first micro-bar and one of the “21 Coolest Hotel Bars in the World,” a title bestowed by “Travel + Leisure,” reopened its doors on September 1 for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.
The intimate, dimly lit speakeasy, anchored inside the historic Hamilton Hotel, right in the heart of D.C.’s downtown corridor, delivers some welcome mystique to the region’s flourishing cocktail scene.
The 14-seat bar boasts a rich palette of black, grey, and granite, complemented by notes of gold and brass, a plush black leather couch, brown leather chairs, a fur hide accent rug and one badass skull and bones rendering emblazoned on a mirror behind the bar — right above the numbers 3-2-2.
Leather-bound books, a bust, antique orbs, a banker’s desk lamp, and other hidden trinkets round out the motif.
Society is the brainchild of Area Director of Food and Beverage’s Joe Palminteri, whose career in the restaurant industry includes stops in New York City and Miami.
“The dark, masculine undertones pay homage to the underground societies and many secret meetings historically held at Hamilton Hotel,” notes Palminteri.
The bar evokes the energy of the oft-whispered history of secret societies and their traditions. Palminteri has been at the helm from conception to birth and admits the concept was manifested from his own fascination with secret societies.
“Skull and Bones, also known as The Order, Order 322 or The Brotherhood of Death, is an undergraduate senior secret student society at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut,” shares Palminteri. “This was the genesis of the Society brand.”
He goes on to describe Skulls and Bones as a cultural institution famous for its “powerful alumni and various conspiracy theories.” It’s one of the “Big 3” societies at Yale, alongside Scroll and Key and Wolf’s Head.
Palminteri believes the nation’s capital — which is steeped in history — and, specifically, The Hamilton Hotel, is the perfect place to house the bar, the very same location that once hosted an inaugural ball for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
“The historic building has stood as a historic landmark for 100 years, serving as a gathering space for DC’s most influential politicians, tastemakers, activists, and more,” shares Palminteri.
Of course, those familiar with the speakeasy might wonder what’s changed during Society’s hiatus.
“The re-launch of this beloved city speakeasy will highlight the cocktail program’s high-end spirits and classic technique, with more approachable offerings,” shares Palminteri.
While many bars lean in variety, Society dials back the offerings, choosing instead to let its mixology and top-notch spirits shine. Patrons can expect intentionality around personalization, the requesting of “bespoke libations” and an “elevated beverage experience.”
“The choices are intentionally limited, with a focus on exquisite execution, meticulous detail, and warm/inviting hospitality.”
Classics such as the Old Fashioned, Side Car and El Diablo take center stage on the scaled-down, meticulously curated menu. Other drink selections on include wine and bubbly and suds.
The Society 2.0 experience is punctuated by a satisfying assortment of gourmet bites, including Palminteri’s favorites: the Crispy Gnocchi (Salsa Verde, Parmigiano) and Pork Terrine (Cherry, Frisee, Mourtarde Violet).
It’s the perfect locale to escape to for a first-rate libation in the dark of night.
Reservations can be made here.
Society: 1001 14th St. NW; thesocietydc.com // @hamiltonhoteldc