A revived nightlife scene in Dupont Circle will continue to grow next week with the arrival of a flashy, neon-lit club that serves a Mediterranean food menu and lavender martinis under a super-sized crystal chandelier fit for Vegas.
The Mayflower Club opens Wednesday, October 27, in the same building that used to house a prominent Prohibition-era speakeasy of the same name. The new two-level restaurant and lounge rounds fills out a complex at 1223 Connecticut Avenue NW that welcomed rooftop club Zebbie’s Garden earlier this summer. At full capacity, the three-level venue outfitted with five bars can fit 800.
Chef Alex Oradei, who last led the kitchen at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse in CityCenterDC, complements Mayflower Club’s decadent decor with an 8-ounce prime strip steak encrusted in gold leaf and topped with shaved truffles ($40). His steakhouse experience also comes across in a voluptuous burger and lamb chops.
Oradei, a native of Marche region of Italy, plays up his Mediterranean roots by sending out canapé towers lined with bacon-wrapped dates, small cones of tuna tartare, and other elegant drinking snacks. The opening menu ($11 to $36) also features halloumi fries with harissa mayo, grilled octopus, branzino, and langoustine prawns with black rice and cream of saffron.
Cocktails ($14 to $16) filled with local liquor brands include a show-stopping Mayflower Spritz spiked with Empress 108 butterfly peaflower gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and edible flowers that are frozen inside a highball ice cube. Gold leaf appears again in the “Goldsmith” cocktail with Republic Restoratives All Purpose bourbon, turmeric-ginger-honey syrup, lemon tea, egg white, lemon juice, and candied lemon ribbons.
An illuminated set of stairs leads the way to the 150-seat venue that’s drenched in pink and purple light and covered in over-the-top details. The chandelier floats above a bar framed with a dramatic female profile. An upstairs mezzanine is lined with magnums of Champagne sitting behind display cases.
The project pays homage to the site’s past life as a secretive speakeasy that served an elite class of customers until it was raided by the police in 1933. Mayflower Club and Zebbie’s Garden, which is named after the arrested proprietor, Zachariah “Zebbie” Goldsmith, are owned by Antonis Karagounis. A fixture in D.C. nightlife, he founded Echostage, Soundcheck, Decades, and Ultrabar. He was the promoter at the building in the early 2000s when it was MCCXXIII (1223). Most recently, the building held Dirty Martini.
Mayflower Club hours are Wednesday to Saturday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. with a special late-night menu that’s available until 2 a.m. Zebbie’s Garden opens from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., Wednesday to Thursday, and until 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights. A weekend brunch and happy hour menu will join the mix soon.
Here’s a sample cocktail menu Mayflower provided to Eater.
The Mayflower Spritz
Empress 108 Butterfly Peaflower Gin, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, cucumber-toasted coconut simple syrup, Q Spiced Tonic, sparkling wine, garnished with edible orchid, edible flowers frozen in highball ice cube
Civic Vodka, reduced muscat infused with lavender and rosemary, Pineau des Charentes Blanc, garnished with citrus-dill oil, lemon zest, and clipped rosemary
Bols Genever, apple-rosemary simple, Aperol, lemon juice, Peroni, garnished with skewered sliced apple fan and rosemary sprig
Cazadores Reposado Tequila, prickly pear, spiced hibiscus syrup infused with Serrano triple sec, lime, garnished with dehydrated lime and orchid
Republic Restoratives All Purpose Bourbon, turmeric-ginger-honey syrup, lemon tea, egg white, lemon juice, garnished with gold leaf, candied lemon ribbons
Nights Like This
Mezcal, apricot-fig simple, banana liqueur, Averna Amaro, walnut bitters, and zested and torched orange peel