The roving cocktail lounge — run by Bolivian-born siblings Carla and Juan Sanchez and Bolivian/Venezuelan beverage director Luis Aliaga — inked a long-term deal to operate in the basement of vegan Eastern European restaurant Spacycloud (2309 18th Street NW). The team planted its first pop-up flag in the same subterranean space last summer. A year later, Casa Kantuta resurfaced across state lines with a week-long residency at Ambar in Clarendon.
The partners will together transform their original home, with Juan Sanchez overseeing the physical remodel, Carla Sanchez handling the design and decor, and Aliaga manning the drinks menu.
The bar will continue to lean heavily on Bolivia’s liquor of record (singani) that’s a grape-distilled brandy akin to pisco. Look for ten opening cocktails, including a couple favorites from the original pop-up menus. That includes the Angry Llama (Rujero singani, tequila, lime, and pineapple under a frothy egg white) and the Pachamama. Named for the Incan deity representing mother earth, the comeback hit mixes Rujero Singani, cognac, Cynar aperitif, pear brandy, and cinnamon bark syrup. Singani shots and wine round out the menu. Aliaga, who also oversees the drinks at Shaw’s popular Roy Boys, plans to unleash an extended lineup of cocktails for Casa Kantuta’s opening.
Food focuses squarely on salteñas, a beloved Bolivian street food similar in shape to a baked empanada but filled with savory stews. Slightly sweet dough envelops creamy potatoes, egg, olives, and chicken or beef.
Casa Kantuta will rely on local vendors to source the food, and Spacycloud will retain use of its upstairs level, kitchen, and outdoor streatery.
The new color-soaked basement bar also plans to host artists and markets in the living room-like back half of the bar, as it did during the initial pop-up phase.
Carla Sanchez spent time in her native Bolivia this fall researching flavors and spirits and brought back carnival masks to watch over the bar. Bowler hats and textiles will also hang on the walls as nods to indigenous cholita style.
Ekekos, the mustachioed ceramic figurines that represent luck and prosperity, will sit on shelves alongside framed art, family photos, and images depicting life in La Paz. Casa Kantuta takes its name from the national flower of Bolivia.
“[We are] beyond excited and ready to continue to share our beautiful Bolivian culture with D.C.,” says Carla Sanchez.