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The West End Will Soon Have a Cuban Rum Bar and Cerveza Garden

An owner in Heist and Morris American Bar is teaming up with a Cuban-born partner

Cuban murals will line the walls at Casta’s.
Casta’s [official photo]

A local hospitality entrepreneur and a Cuban cigar maker are teaming up to open a new rum bar and cerveza garden in the West End before the end of the summer.

Casta’s is expected to debut by early August at 1121 New Hampshire Avenue NW.

The indoor-outdoor venture comes from Vinoda Basnayake, the nightlife guru behind a newly formed hospitality firm called Versus, which operates Shaw cocktail spot Morris American Bar and underground lounge Heist in Dupont Circle. Arian Castañeda, the Cuban-born owner of Castañeda Cigars, is partnering on the project.

An in-the-works menu calls for Cubano sandwiches and yuca fries alongside rum-heavy cocktails like pina coladas and mojitos.

Versus beverage director Doug Fisher will spearhead the cocktail program. At Morris, his seasonal drinks menu currently includes a Caribbean mule and a Coconut Conference made with rye, bourbon, apple brandy, cognac, coconut, and bitters.

D.C.’s existing lineup of Cuban options includes the classic Mi Cuba Cafe in Columbia Heights, Little Havana nearby, and Colada Shop (Sterling, Logan Circle), which is expanding with another location at the Wharf this fall.

Basnayake, a lobbyist and lawyer by day, was named chair of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s commission on nightlife and culture this year.

Design details are being kept under wraps for now, but a PR representative tells Eater that Castañeda hopes to craft a “lively and fun” spot reminiscent of his home turf.

Basnayake visited the island last year, and he tells DC Magazine he hopes to import a slice of Havana to D.C. by shipping Cuban bread from Miami.

The name of the new place comes from an old family nickname, “Casta” — an abbreviation of Castañeda.

The 9-to-5 neighborhood is about to get another dining boost this year with the arrival of a second D.C. location for Proper 21 sports bar.

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