Unassuming cocktail bar 600 T, the underground spot that started out as a word-of-mouth destination in 2017, reopens for business tonight by relocating to a surprise new patio behind the Shaw address that doubles as its name (600 T Street NW).
After closing for five months during the pandemic, 600 T reopens at 5 p.m. with an 24-seat space full of polished wood and graffiti art. That marks the return of well thought-out cocktails that carry simplistic names like “Mezcal,” which adds muddled cucumber, blackberries, lemon, basil, and soda to the agave spirit.
600 T also introduces food for the first time to meet pandemic regulations that mandate booze comes with at least one bite. Popcorn popped on-site is dressed with Ethiopian berbere spice. Owner Lawrence says beef jerky with “no additive B.S.” is also made on-site. It’s marinated overnight in Sriracha and chile garlic, then dehydrated for six hours. Savory nuts are covered in maple syrup and cardamom flavors.
A door man will usher visitors to the back and up a short set of stairs to access the new patio. Attractive cocktails arrive to the table in glass and also come in bottled form. Online preorders will kick off next week, but guests can come by to grab a to-go bottle (or order one on their way out).
Hours are 5 p.m. to midnight from Thursdays to Saturdays to start. Customers can book a two-hour time slot on Resy.
Formerly an owner of a demolition company, Lawrence installed handmade wooden walls and tables across the square-shaped addition. The time-intensive process included “staining the hell” out of sanded pinewood, which has been pressure-treated to brave the outdoors.
“It definitely was always an idea to expand in the back with outside seating to help with summer months,” owner Stephen Lawrence says.
The setup is similar in size to its cozy interior counterpart, which will remain closed for now. The citywide shutdown, which caused the tiny bar to stay closed since March 12, sped up the outside offshoot.
“You need to think outside the box — if you don’t you don’t survive,” Lawrence says. “It’s a matter of figuring out what we can and can’t do and elevating the game.”
His talented D.C.-based street artist friend from Ecuador, who goes by Mas Paz, spray painted a huge mural out back.
“I ran into him and said I randomly have a fucking perfect wall for you to paint,” Lawrence says.
Michael Holiday and Christopher Denino are back behind the bar stirring cocktails. A selection of Manhattans and Old Fashioneds filled with premium spirits (Booker’s, Whistlepig) will run $18 to $22.
Lawrence plans to vacate his apartment, which sits right upstairs at 600 T, and says he hopes to convert the space into a convenience store. This isn’t his first renovation rodeo: When he first bought the late 1800s-era building in 2006, he built out a two-bedroom basement apartment that he flipped into 600 T a decade later. Lawrence also owns the adjoining building that houses food truck-turned-restaurant Rito Loco and its tropical rooftop bar, El Techo.
“It’s nice to have some positive news ... it’s not all just closings and bad times. We are excited to get back and open safely,” he says.