The Watergate hotel’s patio is teed up to capitalize on the latest U.S. sports craze this summer, complete with fruity cocktails in tennis ball-shaped mugs and bites themed around the badminton-like game of pickleball.
The free-to-play activation went live behind the iconic Foggy Bottom hotel’s Next Whisky Bar last week and runs through Labor Day. The public can book a pickleball slot on a first-come basis, and hotel guests can reserve the court at the front desk.
The court, open from 4:30 p.m. until as late as midnight, overlooks the Potomac and lights up at night, thanks to a glow-in-the-dark net, paddles, balls, and baseline tape. The raised garden terrace also screams summer with views of the Watergate complex’s circular swimming pool.
After paddling up a sweat (or just watching from the sidelines), Watergate’s special new snacks do double duty as teachable moments. A falafel, covered in homemade tzatziki, is also a term for when a pickleball player paddles the ball without any power. The “Flapjack,” which refers to a ball’s mandatory bounce before it can be hit, features waffle batter-dipped chicken sausage with a powdered sugar dusting. A pickled cauliflower starter with yellow grape tomatoes resembles a racket and ball, plus “pickled” refers to when a team scores zero points. Each dish is $12, or try a sampler for $32. Circular treats ($3) include cake pops and scoops of sorbet or ice cream.
There’s also a list of wines and Chandon’s new Garden Spritz by the glass ($14) or bottle ($52). The featured bubbly brand also has an on-site spritz cart.
D.C. continues to see a surge in spots that combine sports with drinking, from ax-throwing to ping-pong to golf bars, but the Watergate’s new summer feature is a first of its kind. Lots of local rec centers are already in on the pickleball boom, but this is the only dedicated D.C. court with a playful menu to match.
Hours follow that of the Next Whisky Bar (4:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m., Sunday to Wednesday, and Thursday, Friday, Saturday until midnight). Lessons are available via advanced booking with coach Zorano “Z” Tubo, one of the country’s top IPTA-certified Pickleball Teaching Professionals who’s taught top pros and national champions.