When the reincarnation of Hank’s Cocktail Bar opens tomorrow night in Dupont, regulars from its former home in Petworth shouldn’t feel too out of place. When chef and restaurateur Jamie Leeds decided to leave Upshur Street NW, she took the heart of the old bar with her.
What used to be known as the second-story up-bar at the flagship Hank’s Oyster Bar is now a separate venue painted in shades of purple and gold. The heads of various horned creatures have come along, remnants of the Hank’s Cocktail Bar’s original name, the Twisted Horn. Glowing orb lights hang from chains attached to a dark ceiling. The trippy black-and-gold mural of a girl peering into some alien object made the move, too.
For Leeds, making the move wasn’t an indictment of the bar she opened in Petworth a little more than three years ago. She says the restaurant group’s mixology lab had actually become such a strength that she wanted to bring it to a bigger audience. And she felt like the old space above her first restaurant wasn’t meeting its full potential.
“We’re constantly having to reinvent ourselves and take advantage of opportunities to make things better for the neighborhood,” Leeds says.
At the new cocktail bar, that reinvention included opening up the floor to increase capacity. A former private dining room will now serve as lounge seating for the bar or overflow seats for the restaurant downstairs.
“It’s just amazing,” Leeds says. “The space feels twice the size that it did before.”
That should increase the audience for bar program manager Hunter Douglas, who has concocted a menu of more than 40 drinks while experimenting with savory ingredients and applications that drive sustainability. That means mixing Talisker scotch with jalapeno shrub and playing with kitchen scraps to come up with a drink that tastes like a Thai salad.
Take a first look inside the renovated Hank’s Cocktail Bar:
Hank’s Cocktail Bar is located on the second floor of 1624 Q Street NW. Hours are 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Tuesday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.