clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Lowering Cocktails in Buckets Is Just One Way D.C. Bars Are Getting Creative Right Now

Customers can also find to-go Jell-O shot kits and “Tiger King” themed drinks

Third-story Dirty Water found an innovative way to deliver drinks to customers below.
Dirty Water/official photo
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Atlas District sports bar Dirty Water recently rolled out a creative new way to serve drinks that’s perfectly suited to a world that prioritizes contact-free transactions. The third-story venue (816 H Street NE) is lowering to-go quarts of vodka cocktails using a bucket on a rope, providing carryout customers a needed laugh while maintaining their distance during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

D.C. bars and restaurants have an unprecedented green light to package cocktails, wine, and beer for takeout and delivery while the city works to stem the spread of COVID-19. Some bars, like Dirty Water, are using more down time to figure out clever ways to keep customers’ spirits up.

Dirty Water owner Chris DeFelice test drove the bucket system — which has already appeared at a breakfast pop-up in Los Angeles — on Saturday. Bucket service will go on, as long as the weather allows.

To DeFelice’s surprise, “people really took to it,” he says.

Dirty Water’s vodka cocktails include a green apple Jolly Rancher, a yellow Tropical Crush, and a cranberry-peach Luden’s Cough Drop. Each are sold in quart containers for $15. Or customers can get all three for $30 under a “Stop Light” special.

There’s also “Zinger Kits” that encourage shotgunning Red Bull out of a can. The kit includes four Red Bulls, .375-ml. of Smirnoff, an EZ pour for the bottle, and a key to shotgun the can ($30).

Here’s a look at a few other wacky ways D.C. bars are serving to-go booze:

Schnapsicles from Stable
Schnapsicles from Stable
Stable [official]


Down the street from Dirty Water, Swiss restaurant Stable (1324 H St NE) released its lineup of spiked ice pops earlier than normal. Frozen “Schnapsicles” are available as singles or as a six-pack to store in the freezer. Customers can add a bottle of sparkling wine to create a Schnapsicle spritz at home. They’re available for carryout or delivery during Saturday brunch hours (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

Jell-O Shots

The restaurant group behind Union Pub, Barrel, and McClellan’s Retreat is putting its Jell-O shot machine to work these days. It takes less than an hour to make and chill 20 gelatinous novelty cups at a time. At Union Pub (201 Massachusetts Avenue NE) a single one costs $2, and customers can also get three for $5 or five for $8 in festive flavors like pina colada, margarita, and birthday cake. A DIY house party kit sold on Fridays at McClellan’s Retreat (2031 Florida Avenue NW) is ideal for group houses staying at home together. It includes a 12-pack of Miller High Life, 12 red solo cups, ping pong balls, and six jello shots.

A low-brow party package from McClellan’s Retreat.
McClellan’s Retreat/official photo

Other hit offbeat orders include:

  • Union Pub’s rail-cocktails-to-go in pouches ($4 on Fridays).
  • Barrel’s popular Milk Punch cocktail is available in a full bottle for $80. Package two bottles for $130, and get refills for $60.
  • A Tiki Tuesday special ($45) at McClellan’s Retreat calls for quarts of “Blue Hawaiis” plus garnishes, accessories, and surprises.

Tiger King theme

Fans of the Netflix documentary have at least least two to-go options that feed into the fad. Neighborhood Provisions, the new grocery offshoot of D.C.’s prolific Neighborhood Restaurant Group, sells a “Tiger King Binge Box” curated by beverage director Greg Engert. Wines are available for delivery a la carte or by the four-pack for $70. Proceeds from every bottle of Linton Park Red Rhino will be donated to the Rhino Conservation.

Shaw’s Capo Deli is slinging to-go bottles of a Tiger King cocktail, a fiery medley of mezcal, Chacho Jalapeño Aguardiente, “tiger spice,” and hellfire bitters.

Free cups

Brightwood bar Jackie Lee’s was one of the first D.C. dives to get in on the carryout cocktail game, with mule kits ($75) accompanied by two copper mugs. This weekend, Adams Morgan sports bar the Game and upstairs cocktail perch Tiki on 18th hopped on the to-go booze train, with large-format palomas ($33-$60) that come with a free Patron tiki mug:

Alyssa Bonk/Tiki on 18th

Dirty Waters Sports Bar

816 H Street Northeast, , DC 20002 (504) 296-6180