After closing for renovations over the winter and most of the spring, the W Hotel’s POV bar is back in business. Since reopening near the end of May, the historic perch overlooking the White House has been serving a remade menu full of cocktails with political references.
Cold Brew “Covfefe” — a nod to President Donald Trump’s infamous tweet — puts Leopold Bros. French press coffee liqueur on ice ($17 each; $80 for a carafe). Another tongue-in-cheek drink dubbed the “Stormy Jack Daniels” is basically a dark and stormy made with the Tennessee whiskey. The “Wooden Teeth” cocktail refers to a myth about George Washington’s dentures.
“Everything is lighthearted — we are an a-political hotel but we want to have fun and do it also as having a level of respect for everyone,” says Meade Atkeson, the general manager at W Washington D.C.
Laser-cut metal symbols lining the lobby — including cigarettes, gap pumps, bullets, and prescription pills — are references to industries that lobbyists promote.
The historic Beaux Arts building at 515 15th Street NW was erected in 1917 as the Hotel Washington and reemerged as the 317-room W Hotel a decade ago. New York City’s Studio GAIA — the architecture and interior design firm behind Jay Z’s 40/40 nightclub, D.C.’s Donovan House, and W hotels in Mexico City and Seoul — worked with W’s in-house design team on the top-to-bottom renovation that’s been rolled out in phases this year.
That included turning POV’s dark rooftop lounge into a neon-lit homage to the Brutalist design of D.C.’s Metro. The space, now flooded with natural light thanks to new, operable windows, was previously only open to the public on Friday and Saturday nights. Now its hours are in line with POV.
“We wanted it to feel like an extension of the patio,” Atkeson says.
“When I looked at early renderings, I said ‘that may be too obnoxious. Who wants to do anything that glamorizes the Metro?’ But I think it came out beautifully,” he says.
Other artistic additions included installing white, cloud-like lanterns above diners, while a sprawling color-soaked mural by Baltimore-based street artist Gaia welcomes guests to the top.
The massive rooftop overhaul also included replacing plastic wraparound tarps with floor-to-ceiling retractable glass, creating the feeling of an enclosed jewel box.
“You can watch storms come in without feeling like you’ll be struck by lightning,” Atkeson says.
The surf and turf menu upstairs stars several spins on lobster — in fried rice, rolls, bisque, and grilled cheese sandwiches — as well as burgers.
“That’s what people want when they come here,” says Garth Welsh, director of W D.C.’s beverage and food.
The menu, which includes bites like Old Bay fries, a vegetarian Impossible burger, and carrot cake tower, aims to appease a range of tastes for its diverse clientele.
“The crowd is so eclectic — from happy hour to bottle service to bridesmaids running up there,” says Atkeson.
POV Menu 5.31.19 by on Scribd
The seating count stayed around the same (for 120), but the renovation called for more large booths and options for bottle service complete with personal bartenders.
An Amsterdam-based mixologist collective, dubbed Cocktail Professor, is behind the lineup of 14 mixed drinks. Those include four barrel-aged cocktails that are based on favorite drinks of former presidents. There’s also four draft drinks to support quicker service.
“We drew inspiration from D.C.’s political history, presidential quotes, and rumors in the White House,” Welsh says.
Unexpected presentations include a rum-heavy President’s Book of Secrets, a literal book holding a flask that drinkers pour themselves.
One cocktail features an consumable image featuing an unlikely pairing: Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley. The rock star reportedly wanted to obtain a DEA badge for his collection and came to D.C. to ask the president for one in the early 1970s. When he came to D.C., Elvis entered the building that was then the Hotel Washington.
Elvis reportedly rolled with an entourage of 15 people on the roof but gracefully left the upstairs bar due to its jacket policy.
Current events on the rooftop will include a comeback for POV Live nights featuring DJs and up-and-coming musicians (Nina Sky is booked for July 11). An ongoing “What She Said” global speaker series will showcase women from the worlds of sports, music, and Hollywood.
Tickets for POV’s pricey Fourth of July party, dubbed Boom with a View, are on sale now.
The hotel’s $50 million overhaul will continue to come together in the coming weeks the arrival of lobby-level restaurant with a 15-foot wood-burning hearth and an upscale beer garden.
The W is also renovating properties in Atlanta, Boston, San Francisco, and Miami.