Here, you’ll find cocktails of all sorts — backyard party style.
In late summer, as scorching weather and sticky humidity makes being outdoors a struggle, maybe you’re looking for a spot to land after a spirited game of kickball on the Mall, or perhaps you’re killing time in Dupont waiting for your dinner plans. If casual drinks in a new, outdoor environment is in your future, look no further than the new secret garden bar from Hank’s Oyster Bar, the Dupont mainstay located on 17th and Q Street.
For 20 years, they’ve been a go-to spot for raw bar, lobsters, mussels and ceviche, but now they’ve got a new thing to try — a secret garden bar.
Don’t let the name fool you — this place is a far cry from Misselthwaite Manor. One part Miami, one part Brooklyn and two parts Dupont, the outdoor space is located in Hank’s “backyard.” The space was transformed from a concrete pad into a lush, shady nook by Nate Oser, corporate beverage director of the Hank’s family of restaurants.
“I grabbed some greenery panels from Amazon and started setting them up myself,” Oser says. “You kinda forget you’re in Dupont when you’re here.”
You are still in Dupont, though, and they are sensitive to this fact.
“We consulted with our neighbors to make sure everyone was cool with us doing this,” Oser says.
The space is covered from floor to ceiling in verdant faux-greenery, and a large sailcloth — fit for a two-masted schooner — gives bar-goers shade. A half-dozen tables ring the space and in one corner, you’ll find a cute bar with space for three.
“We wanted a space young and fresh, and definitely Instagrammable,” adds Erin Lucas, general manager of Hank’s.
“I’m hoping it’ll have the feel of hanging out in your backyard: refreshing cocktails, canned wine and light fare,” Oser says. “And no glass.”
While the interior serves a wide variety of drinks, the garden bar shakes, stirs and pours libations fit for the soaring temperatures: margaritas, made with a rotating selection of fresh house-made shrubs; sugar-forward cocktails like a Lemon Drop, made with Meyer lemon and ringed with sugar; and their Q Street Mule, available both in single servings and in a massive jug meant for a half-dozen people.
“This one is really popular with our seafood plateau,” Oser says.
Don’t sleep on bartender Walter’s blackberry watermelon margarita — it’s tart with a solid dose of dark fruit flavors and a refreshing, salty undertone.
“We’re going for solid standbys and straightforward drinks, nothing too complex,” Oser says.
As you’re seated outside, relaxing and enjoying the dulcet tones of slide guitar over the speakers, the breeze will turn and the briney scent of the sea will waft past your nostrils. Fans of Hank’s plats de la mer can still get their fix, thanks to a chalkboard at the bar advertising what oysters they have on offer each day.
Usually it’s three types of Chesapeake oysters, and three more from other parts of the U.S. Hank’s has their own source from the Chesapeake, Salty Wolfe, and brings the oysters to diners less than 48 hours after leaving the water. All of this, and Hank’s usual fare, is available in the garden bar.
Next time you’re walking up 17th Street, hang a right just past Agora and head down the alley to the garden bar. The red brick of the alley will lead you straight into the green space inside, where you can relax from the heat and wet your whistle.
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