Dupont Circle gets a gigantic new nautical-themed bar today with the opening of the Admiral. A neon sign that greets guests walking through the entrance reads, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!,” speaks to the pace of a five-month, multimillion dollar turnaround from the 6,500-square-foot space’s past life as Irish bar James Hoban’s.
“Our motto is just kind of, ‘Go for it,’” says Mission Group partner Fritz Brogan, who was still putting the finishing touches — including installing a royal blue banquette under the expression — earlier this morning at 1 Dupont Circle.
Last summer, Brogan was still building Mission Navy Yard on the day of its debut. With partner Reed Landry, the budding restaurant group also runs Mission Dupont nearby and Hawthorne on U Street NW. Both are typically packed with a millennial drinking crowd.
James Hoban’s poured its last Guinness in July, ending a 12-year run at the foot of Dupont Circle. Mission Group wasted no time giving the aging watering hole a complete floor-to-ceiling makeover. That included knocking down walls, raising ceilings by a couple feet, and installing seafaring accents like submarine-style light fixtures. The new bar is named after Admiral Samuel Francis DuPont, the circle’s namesake.
The Admiral houses three bars, 12 draft lines, and 18 big screen TVs, including a 220-inch TV wall hovering over one blue booth that can be split into four channels. A short opening food menu from Mission Group corporate chef Roberto Hernandez swaps James Hoban’s pub fare for a lineup of American eats with East Coast flair (think crab dip and a hearty lobster roll). The full food menu will become available on the day after Christmas. Bottomless brunch will start in late January.
Familiar features from Mission properties can be found inside: late-night DJ parties, no-fee event bookings, draft cocktails, Mission margaritas, and a surplus of bathrooms to accommodate drinkers that are avid fans of White Claw (here, they come in 16-ounce cans).
Another similarity is a killer daily happy hour that’s available across the whole space from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Specials include half-priced oyster platters, $3.50 brisket sliders, $5 Brussels sprouts, a $7 Tito’s Paloma or Kentucky Lemonade, and $5 beers or shots of Old Forester Bourbon.
“Happy hour is huge in Dupont,” Brogan says.
A 200-seat patio outfitted with a full bar will open soon with an enclosed addition. Brogan says the 3,000-square-foot outdoor area is what sold the partners on the space. He likens having the Admiral just a few steps south from the original Mission to the setup Clyde’s Restaurant Group has with Old Ebbitt and The Hamilton downtown.
“They’re able to trade business back and forth,” he says. “Most groups wouldn’t open so close, but we are busy all the time at Mission — we turn down reservations and events.”