After being picked from a group of 90,000 applicants, Gina Chersevani competed on Food Network’s supermarket-based show Guy’s Grocery Games last fall — and won. She then clinched a spot on Guy’s Grocery Games Summer Tournament, which premieres Wednesday, July 6.
To celebrate the big feat, Chersevani hosts a watch party at her dive-styled bar Last Call near Union Market (1301-A 4th Street NE). She embraces the name of the game with $1 nips of Jameson whiskey served in tiny shopping carts during the episode’s air time (9 p.m. to 10 p.m.). The bar is open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Chersevani goes up against seven other Guy’s Grocery Games winners for a five-week tournament featuring “cool new games, bold summer flavors, some killer grillin’ and a $25,000 grand prize,” per the show’s promo. Coast-to-coast contestants include Cincinnati chef Christian Gill of Boomtown Biscuits & Whiskey and Noelle Huerta, executive chef at Forum Social House in Seattle.
For her Food Network TV debut last fall on Guy’s Grocery Games, which is a basically a mix of Supermarket Sweep meets Chopped, Chersevani won the “Fruit Fest” episode’s challenge — and a whopping $18,999 (it was $15,999, but Fieri changed the amount once he found out the money was going to Chersevani’s staff).
While Chersevani is best known for her bartending skills, she’s also honed her culinary craft in recent years. She’s also behind Buffalo & Bergen, the all-day bagel, knish, and egg cream counter in Union Market that expanded to Capitol Hill in 2019. During the pandemic, Chersevani moved to a Maryland farm with her family where she grows her own produce and raises dozens of chickens and ducks. Some of the eggs make their way to her D.C. restaurants, and she also braises meats and pickles and smokes salmon herself.
Chersevani, who grew up in an Italian family on Long Island, also pays homage to her roots during tonight’s watch party with $8 Long Island Iced Teas. The potent cocktail was her beverage of choice when she was just starting out her D.C. bartending career at age 22. She remembers going to Black Cat with now-Last Call general manager and Watergate alum Rachel Sergi to order the affordable drink.
“That was the most liquor for the cheapest amount of money you could get on 14th Street 20 years ago when we were poor,” says Chersevani.
Last Call keeps the party going on Thursday, July 7, commemorating “National Dive Bar” day with watering hole favorites like Mind Erasers, Kamikazes, and Rumplemintz during happy hour (7 p.m. to 9 p.m.). Winners of the “Shotgun-a-Beer” and “Shot-Ski” contests will take home a slew of prizes. A “Jell-O Shot Extravaganza” special will run all night.
In addition, there’s a chance to win free booze at Last Call for life as part of a partnership with Union Market district’s District Tattoo. The first five people who book and buy a Last Call-branded tattoo from District Tattoo will get one free beer per day. And one person will get the tattoo on the house. See rules below: