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wild nothing corbin bleu toro y moi


merry where DC meets its

S AT U R D AY, D E C E M B E R 1 , 6 : 0 0 – 9 : 0 0 P M Join us for a sparkling holiday tradition, with beautifully decorated boats, cookie decorating, and our lighted Christmas Tree. Warm up by our fire pit, meet Santa, go ice skating, sample winter drinks at our Waterfront Beer & Wine Garden—and enjoy dazzling fireworks. Must be 21 or over to consume alcohol.

For more information, follow us on social media or visit


Table of Contents who is on tap?

NOVEMBER 2018: Vol 21 No 2 The LOCAL MUSIC issue


We’re honored to present the best of all things music in the DMV this month. Gracing our cover is Virginia-born and DC-bred Jules Hale of Den-Mate. We take a deep look at artists reinvigorating the fabric of DC’s iconic jazz movement, and give you a roundup of 30 DC area artists. For a backstage pass to the inner workings of DC’s influential venues, we chatted with three promoters and bookers who make the magic of your favorite shows happen. To celebrate the inaugural DMV Black Restaurant Week, we spoke to its founders about making this essential event a reality. Return to Thanksgiving’s true roots in our piece on Chef Freddie Bitsoie from the Mitsitam Native Food Cafe. We catch up with Todd Thrasher about DC’s brand-new Potomac Distilling Company at The Wharf, and celebrate all things cocktails with a survey of the spirits available for your enjoyment at this month’s DC Cocktail Week. And we can’t forget Corbin Bleu and Maria Rizzo, who star in Arena Stage’s Anything Goes, musicians Toro y Moi and Wild Nothing at the 9:30 Club, a season preview of the Washington Wizards and much more this November. On the cover: Den-Mate’s Jules Hale Photo: Lauren Melanie Brown

Designer: Julia Goldberg

In this Issue Stage & Screen Events.................................. 4 Anything Goes at Arena Stage.. .................. 6

n november ROundup Drink, Dine, Do............................................... 8


Foodie Forecast

Potomac Distilling Company

DC Cocktail Week Returns

with Todd Thrasher

n Sports Red Bull Esports Final Comes to DC........ 12 Wizards Retool for New Season.. .............. 14

n Dining New & Notable.. ............................................ 16 DMV Black Restaurant Week.. .................... 18 Native American Food on the Rise.......... 20

n Drinks



Movers & Shakers

30 Days of Music

Who’s Behind the Music in DC?

Local Bands You Need to Know

What’s On Tap?............................................. 22 Heavy Seas Founder Hugh Sisson. . .......... 24 Imperial Is King of the Winter................... 26 Behind the Bar.............................................. 28 DC Cocktail Week......................................... 32 A Survey of Scotch.. ..................................... 36 A Day in the Life with Todd Thrasher...... 38

n Music



District of Den-Mate

Inside Indigo

with Jules Hale


Wild Nothing’s Ode to 80s Pop

On Tap | november 2018 |

Publisher Jennifer Currie

Managing Editor Monica Alford

Assistant Editor Trent Johnson


Print & Digital Design Nick Caracciolo KEY ACCOUNT MANAGER Tom Roth

n Stage & Screen


Founder James Currie

Did You Know? Music Venues.. .................. 40 Movers & Shakers. . ....................................... 41 DC’s New Jazz Age....................................... 44 30 Days of DC Music. . .................................. 46 District of Den-Mate.. .................................. 52 Wild Nothing’s Ode to 80s Pop................. 54 The Many Lives of Toro y Moi. . .................. 56

Account Executive Natalia Kolenko

Digital & Advertising coordinator Kayla Marsh

Events & promotions manager Shannon Darling

Events & promotions ASSISTANT Katie Seaman


Contributing Writers

Michael Coleman, Lani Furbank, Michelle Goldchain, Michael Loria, Kayla Marsh, Travis Mitchell, Courtney Sexton

Contributing Photographers

Jay Abella, Beauty by Photography, John Gervasi, Mike Kim, Devin Overbey On Tap Magazine is published 11 times per year. ©2018 by Five O’Clock Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. Use or reproduction of any materials contained herein is strictly prohibited without express prior written consent. Go to for more information.


25 Dove St. Alexandria, VA 22314 Tel: 703-465-0500 Fax: 703-465-0400 Calendar Submissions Due by 15th of the month for print issue


DEC 1 & 2

11:30 AM-4:00 PM

ACTIVITIES INCLUDE: • Player autographs and photo stations • Clubhouse tours • Hit in the batting cages and pitch in the bullpens • Photos with the WGL Energy bullpen cart • The sport of curling • Holiday-themed food and treats





*Some restrictions apply. Limited time offer. One ornament per order. Minimum two packs, maximum six packs per order. Ornament enlarged to show detail. All tickets will be mailed in March 2019.

By Trent Johnson

Through Wednesday, November 21

Friday, November 9 - Saturday, November 10

Films Across Borders: Stories of Women As a frequent moviegoer, even I find it difficult to keep up with foreign films. Unless they are slated to be acknowledged during award season or carry a tremendous amount of hype, they are often lower on my priority list when it comes to choosing which film off the marquee to watch. However, the American University’s Films Across Borders series is an opportunity to head to several venues and appreciate a variety of stories. This year’s theme, Stories of Women, will showcase an assortment of films representing women from diverse backgrounds and represent the importance of “gender-balanced perspectives and parity” in our society. The festival includes screenings, panels and Q&As on a number of topics within the theme. Times, dates and ticket prices vary. Films Across Borders: Various locations around the DMV;

Malavika Sarukkai: Thari – The Loom Making her return to the Kennedy Center after a fiveyear hiatus, Malavika Sarukkai brings her mastery of the classical Indian dance style bharatanatyam with her latest production, Thari – The Loom. This performance is said to investigate the scope and legacy of the sari, a hand-woven garment famously from India, and how the changing mythos of the symbol “becomes a metaphor for life itself.” Show is at 7:30 p.m. on both days. Tickets $49. The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC;

Through Sunday, December 2 King John No folks, we’re not talking about the King in the North, John Snow. Rather, we’re talking about a different King John, and one who has less accolades than the bastard child of Winterfell. Folger’s King John takes audiences back to the days of the Magna Carta and represents a sly look at the politics of Old England. This winter, director Aaron Posner brings this chaotic combination of ambition and boneheaded decison-making to life. Various dates. Tickets $42$79. Folger Theatre: 201 East Capitol St. SE, DC;

Saturday, November 3 - Sunday, December 2 As You Like It After several people are forced from their homes, they escape into the forest of Arden, a place where you get lost in nature while simultaneously finding yourself. However, this is a Shakespeare retelling so the story encompasses themes like families at each other’s throats and lovers forced to feign the opposite. The New York Times declared this Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery musical adaptation as one of the best shows in 2017, and the refugees who form this new community among the trees are all set to blow DC away in its District debut. Various dates, times and ticket prices. The Keegan Theatre: 1742 Church St. NW, DC;


On Tap | NOVEMber 2018 |

Tuesday, November 13 Story District Presents: Cat-Headed Baby Looking for a unique twist on storytelling? Then search no further, as Storytelling District continues its monthly tradition of having locals stand on a stage while delivering unusual tales about superstitions, hoaxes and other oddities. Though it sounds silly, these provocative narratives are more than just random thought bubbles from your DMV neighbors, as each seven-minute performance contains an original true story that aligns with the theme of the month. As if I need to sell you on it any harder, The Washington Post deemed Story District the “gold standard in storytelling.” Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $20. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;

Wednesday, November 14 Limetown Panel A fictional town covered by a fictional version of NPR, this live podcast offers a true-crime story with a layout similar to Serial with subject matter inspired by The X-Files. Somewhere in Tennessee, 300 people go missing, and American Public Radio’s Lia Haddock is on the scene detailing its happening. This panel discussion will feature creators Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie, with author of their new prequel novel Cote Smith, as the trio discusses the new story involving Haddock’s intriguing past. Panel begins at 7 p.m. Tickets $16-$30. Sixth & I: 600 I St. NW, DC;

Wednesday, November 14 - Sunday, December 16 Cry It Out Parenthood is hard, sure, but you know what else is hard? Making friends as an adult. Without the built-in friend finder of school, navigating life as an adult takes up a ton of time, which sort of puts making new acquaintances on the backburner, and when you add children on top of all that – whew, good luck. Essentially this is where the characters in Studio Theatre’s Cry It Out find themselves, as two young couples separated by a few yards between their homes luckily strike up a friendship, bonding over all the tougher aspects of raising children. This comedy is sure to be a relatable story that examines parenthood and class in the U.S. Various dates, times and ticket prices. Studio Theatre: 1501 14th St. NW, DC;

Sunday, November 18 Frankenstein Humans have always had a fascination with science fiction. Before we could even fly country to country or state to state, there were books about alien visitation, trips to the moon and time travel. With artificial intelligence and super computers constantly in the news (shout out to Skyne...I mean Google) one of the original fictional creators of artificial intelligence was Mary Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein, a scientist who sewed different body parts he found in the cemetery together to create a humanoid. However, the doctor was appalled by his creation and fled the scene only to be followed and accosted by his monster, and no, we’re not talking the bolts in the neck one from the Munsters. This play pays homage to Shelley’s novel, which tackled a plethora of ethical questions that our modern science is only now beginning to encounter in the real world. Talk about timely. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets $44. George Mason Center for the Arts: 4400 University Dr. Fairfax, VA;

Jackson Galaxy The Cat Daddy himself is making his way to DC. Most famously known as the host of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell, Galaxy has also penned two New York Times bestsellers and has more than 25 years of experience working with our feline friends. For this presentation at the famed Lincoln Theatre, Galaxy will divulge how he found his mojo and how to get to know your cat, and the “raw cat” (aka his ancestor who was totally not a social kitty.) Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets $45$60. The Lincoln Theatre: 1215 U St. NW, DC;

Photos: Trent Johnson

Wednesday, November 21

Shakespeare Theatre Company hosted Young Prose Night for its production of Comedy of Errors, including a post-show reception with wine and complimentary brews from The Bruery. | NOVEMBER 2018 | On Tap


Lisa Helmi Johanson (Hope Harcourt) and Corbin Bleu (Billy Crocker) in Anything Goes

Photo: Tony Powell

ANYTHING GOES Arena Stage Breathes New Life into Golden Age Classic By Trent Johnson For a con man on a mission to stop the woman he loves from engaging in a romantic relationship with some Joe Schmoe from another world, anything goes. At least that’s what Arena Stage’s retelling of the classic play entails, with stowaway Billy Crocker on a mission to get to his beloved Hope Harcourt aboard a luxurious cruise ship using every ounce of his street knowhow. Anything Goes runs from November 2 to December 23 on Arena’s Fichandler Stage, with the theatre’s artistic director Molly Smith at the helm of the production. During the SS American’s journey from NYC to London, Crocker must use various disguises and the help of his friends to win back his love. “There’s the romance and the love,” says High School Musical’s Corbin Bleu, who plays Crocker. “What’s fascinating about this piece is the differences in class. Billy’s had to fight his way to the position he’s at in the world. He wasn’t born with a silver spoon



in his mouth at all and this woman was, but [she’s] had it shoved in her mouth and [doesn’t] want her mother having a hand in everything.” The musical is set in the 1930s, which local actress Maria Rizzo says is one of her favorite eras. “It’s a vibrant time to sing music,” she says of the decade. “That’s what’s going to draw our audiences to the show, because there are so many songs people will recognize.” Rizzo plays tough-talking Erma, balancing the character’s strength and independence with her playful demeanor. “I feel comfortable playing characters who are big and exciting. I think it’s easy to slip into a stupid or flaky version of her, but I refuse to play a woman who’s dumb. There are so many women written well, like Erma. She’s street smart, even if she doesn’t talk like the classiest of broads.”

To get into character, Rizzo changed her accent by mimicking folks who say “New Joisey” instead of New Jersey. The actress says she shares a lot in common with Erma – namely her resilience and fascination with the here and now – although her character does love attention from the boys. “So that and [her] voice were the two opposite qualities.” For Bleu, navigating his role was more difficult because he is playing a character who is playing characters. Each of Crocker’s disguises requires its own mannerisms and voices. “I know I am a hopeless romantic, and there is that aspect of Billy. He’s willing to go to the ends of the earth to win this woman’s heart, even after being continually denied. There’s several different accents and disguises, and while doing that you have to make sure it stays Billy.” Bleu and Rizzo are both fawning over the choices Smith has made throughout pre-production, culminating in the new look and feel she’s bringing to this 1934 musical. “What I love so much about Molly’s shows is that she typically casts cross-culturally, and it’s really reflective of what America looks like today,” Rizzo says. “Even though this show is from the 1930s, and the original cast would have been all white actors, that’s not the show you’ll see because that’s not the world we see right now. It gives the piece a more powerful voice.” Smith also encourages performers to dig deeper, including the development of character backstories and experiences. “We had to find ways to make [the script] justified, and we even brought backstories not in the text,” Bleu says. “We all had to come up with our own improvisations of our characters, [and what] the biggest turning point of your character’s life was. It was really, really interesting. I’ve never been part of a production where that process was so open to everyone.” With fresh faces breathing life into beloved characters, this version of Anything Goes will undoubtedly emotionally engage audiences who span generations. “Anything Goes has a lot of potential for a lot more depth than most Golden Age musicals,” Bleu continues. “You have an incredibly talented ensemble and the choreography is going to be incredible, so there will be that excitement of having seen a great performance.” Catch Anything Goes on Arena Stage’s Fichandler Stage from November 2 to December 23. Tickets are $92. For more information on the play, visit Arena Stage: 1101 Sixth St. SW, DC; 202-488-3300;

Photos: John Gervasi

“We all had to come up with our own improvisations of our characters. I’ve never been part of a production where that process was so open to everyone.”

The Dia de los Muertos festival at The Wharf presented by Modelo featured live music from La Unica, sets from DJ Blind Stares, face painting, treats from Pearl Street restaurants and more. | NOVEMBER 2018 | ON TAP


All Drink, Dine, Do event listings are provided by the venues hosting them.

Photos: Mike Kim


Rosslyn Cider Fest on Central Place Plaza featured several different cideries serving their best ciders, live music from Two Ton Twig, tasty food trucks, a pie-eating contest and more.


On Tap | NOVEMber 2018 |

Hamiltunes DC: Election Day is Days Away Join a raucous band of revolutionaries for the HAMDC event “Hamiltunes DC: Election Day is Days Away!” This spirited sing along will be comprised of a pre-show happy hour, followed by the singalong, intermission after Act One, and last but not least, Act Two. Proceeds from this event will be donated to the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Hamiltunes DC makes you the performer and the audience your backup singers. Hamiltunes DC is the first and only Hamilton singalong in our nation’s capital, featuring fans onstage singing and rapping your heart out to the greatest soundtrack of all time. Tickets start at $15. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Calvary Baptist Church Woodward Hall: 755 8th St. NW, DC;

Side Yards 2018 Side Yards at Yards Park celebrates five years of eccentric amusement and utter fascination. Side Yards embraces the marvels of the East Coast’s top sideshow performers. This year’s entertainment will showcase the unusual talents of aerialists, escape artists, poi spinners, contortionists, fire artists and more. For the first time, Side Yards will even feature a tightrope walker. Additionally, you can enjoy a photo booth, fortune tellers, faux tattoos, and caricature artists alongside with delicious food and treats. In addition, there are over a dozen great places to eat and drink at The Yards to extend your evening. Free to attend. 5-9 p.m. Yards Park: 355 Water St. SE, DC;

Vola’s Fall Oysterfest Join Vola’s Dockside Grill for Fall Oysterfest. Tickets include unlimited fresh shucked oysters, fried and broiled oysters, oyster stew and more, plus beer and wine. Tickets $80. 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Vola’s Dockside Grill and Hi-Tide Lounge: 101 N. Union St. Alexandria, VA.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 5 R. R. Bowie Cocktail Competition sponsored by Grey Goose Who is the best bartender in the DMV? Who is going to set the standard for all bartenders in the area? Come out and support your favorite bartenders at the 1st Annual R. R. Bowie DMV Black Restaurant Week Cocktail Competition. After the competition, continue to celebrate excellence in the beverage and spirits world at Service Bar. Sponsored in part by Grey Goose and Blue Henry. Tickets $15. 5:30-10 p.m. Service Bar: 926-928 U St. NW, DC;

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6 Election Night at The Bird Join The Bird for Election Night 2018. Get your fill of political party themed specialty cocktails and food dishes inspired by the cuisine of swing states. Show up with your “I Voted” sticker and get a $4 Moscow Mueller. Free to attend. 5-10 p.m. The Bird: 1337 11th St. NW, DC;

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8 November Evenings at the Edge: After Hours at the National Gallery of Art It’s time to fall back, and the National Gallery of Art is marking the change in seasons with pop-up talks, art making and performances. Learn how to paint with light, stargaze on the Gallery’s rooftop terrace and light up the dance floor with tunes from the sensational DJ Neekola and electric cellist

Benjamin Gates. Pop-up talks will explore how artists use light and shadow to enhance their work. Specialty fare and beverages include black-andwhite cookies and a dark-andstormy-inspired cocktail. This program is made possible by a generous grant from The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation. Free to attend. 6 - 9 p.m. National Gallery of Art East Building: 4th Street NW, DC;

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10 Al-Quds Festival & Palestine Trade Show Al-Quds (the Arabic name for Jerusalem) is a cherished city by many around the world. The festival’s goal is to highlight the cultural and historical significance of Al-Quds to the local community. This year, it will include a cultural and art exhibit, music, folk dances, kids program, fashion show and food. The event will also include a trade Show of Palestinian products to help support the Palestinian economy. Those who have not had the chance to visit Al-Quds/Jerusalem will have the opportunity to experience the city in the form of this unique and joyful festival. 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Tickets $6. Northern Virginia Community College , Annandale Campus: 8333 Little River Turnpike (CF Building), Annandale, VA; Cambodian Dance Drama: Buddha Overcomes All Obstacles Don’t miss this dramatic retelling of the Buddha’s determined search for enlightenment, featuring classical Cambodian music, dance and costumes. The play follows the Historical Buddha as he encounters the world outside his family’s palace, renounces secular luxuries and resists temptations from an army of demons. Long performed in the Khmer court tradition, this dance-

drama has not been seen on stage since the 1960s. It is carefully re-staged here by a team of master musicians and dancers with roots at Cambodia’s Royal University of Fine Arts and the Royal Dance Troupe of Cambodia plus winners of major awards from the National Endowment for the Arts. They will come to Washington from across the U.S. for this production, which is coordinated by Cambodian American Heritage, a 38-year old Washington-area organization dedicated to preserving Khmer dance, music and culture. Tickets $6. 2-4 p.m. Meyer Auditorium at the Freer Gallery of Art: Independence Avenue at 12th Street in SW, DC;                                       

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 11 2018 Taste of Greater Springfield (TOGS) Taste of Greater Springfield (TOGS) is a unique food festival organized by the Rotary Club of West Springfield Foundation. Now in its sixth year, TOGS features local restaurants providing samples of their favorite dishes , providing a fantastic way to learn about the variety of great eateries in the area. For adult attendees, there will be several Virginia breweries and wineries showcasing their finest offerings. The funds raised from this event pay for local projects. 3-6 p.m. Tickets $10-$30. Waterford Receptions: 6715 Commerce St. Springfield, VA

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15 Beaujolais and Beyond Celebration 2018 Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! What better way to celebrate the end of the 2018 wine harvest in style than at the Embassy of France at DC’s only official celebration? Enjoy unlimited Beaujolais Nouveau all night long, sample food from some of Washington’s best French restaurants and dance the night away at the wine event of the year. This

event features a French buffet, open bar of free-flowing Beaujolais Nouveau wine and a cash bar for all other drinks. The night will continue with one of Washington’s top DJs spinning the best dance hits. A spectacular light display will fill the embassy and the dance floor to add that special late night French touch. Event begins at 8 p.m. Tickets begin at $69. La Maison Française at the Embassy of France: 4101 Reservoir Road NW, DC; Burgundy and Turkey Day Bites: Cork’s 5 Bites & 5 Tastes Series Join Cork Wine Bar & Market for the evening on an in-depth exploration of classic Burgundy wines. You’ll learn how to taste and pair the wines with this year’s Thanksgiving feast, just in time for the holidays. 7-9 p.m. Tickets $50. Cork Wine Bar & Market: 1805 14th St. NW, DC: Craft Night at Shop Made in DC Join Shop Made in DC, Golden Triangle BID and a local maker for a night of crafting fun. No previous art or craft-making experience necessary. Delicious Made in DC cocktails and snacks will be available for purchase to enjoy while you craft the night away. Shop Made in DC is located across from the Dupont Circle South metro exit. A Dupont Circle Circulator Bus stop is one block away from the shop on 19th Street. Seating is first come, first served. Free to attend with RSVP. 5-7 p.m. Shop Made In DC: 1330 19th St. NW; Txotx Cider Dinner What is txotx, you ask? It’s the sound the cider barrel makes when it’s tapped. When you hear it, it’s time to gather around the barrel with your glass, take a small pour from the txotx barrel and toast to life. Txotx is the Spanish tradition you’ve never heard of, and your new favorite way to drink cider. Our txotx dinner includes an apple | NOVEMBER 2018 | On Tap


welcome cocktail, a traditional three course Spanish meal including favorites like chorizo, croquetas and steak, dessert and of course a glass of cider. This dinner is the perfect way to spend an autumn evening and the reason you need to get your friends together. 21-plus. 7-9:30 p.m. Tickets $75. La Tasca Old Town: 607 King St. Alexandria, VA;

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17 Off the Beaten Track Warehouse Fall Open Studios Join the artists and makers of Off the Beaten Track Warehouse for Fall Open Studios. Get to meet our residents in their working studios and get a behind-the-scenes peek at their process while shopping art and locally made products. This is a perfect way to jump start your holiday gifting, and contribute to the local arts economy. Free to attend. 12-6 p.m. Off The Beaten Track Warehouse: 2414 Douglas St. NE; www. Virtual Reality Day Celebrate global Virtual Reality Day by attending this local event near you. Learn and experience from different VR/ AR demonstrations. Learn more about virtual and augmented reality. Have your first virtual reality experience. Ask questions. Meet the local VR/ AR community. Free to attend. 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Tysons Corner Center (Lord & Taylor Court - Ground Floor): 1961 Chain Bridge Rd. McLean, VA;

tasting classes that are centered around a niche subject and how it relates to the wine in your glass. Taste wine, enjoy nibbles and learn something new! This particular class is entitled “The Politics of Wine Traditions: How Georgia was Excluded from Established Wine Traditions.” While Georgia holds the mantle for oldest winemaking civilization, they’ve had little say in dictating norms or traditions in wine culture. Instead, countries like France and Italy have become the standard bearers for how wine is made and consumed. Light bites will be provided and class will be set to Motown. Tickets $40. 1:30-2:45 p.m. Dio Wine Bar: 904 H St. NE, DC; Intro to Floral Arrangement, Taught by MISA Floral Join Michelle Samson, owner of MISA Floral for an afternoon of floral making and good vibes. Learn the ins and outs of creating floral arrangements just like the pros, and go home with your very own creation, perfect for decorating your home or giving as a gift. With the instruction of this master florist, you’ll learn basic cut flower care, go home with a beautiful arrangement and a new (or improved) craft that you can continue to develop at home. All materials including flowers, vessels, and tools are included in this 2 hour workshop. Tickets are $75. 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Steadfast Supply: 301 Tingey St. SE, DC (entrance on Water St. #120);

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 20 SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18 Book-ish Wine Tasting and Seminar: The Politics of Wine Traditions Book-ish is Dio Wine Bar’s series of fusion seminar/wine


Eat & Drink: a Neighborhood Dinner Party Celebrating the Flavors of Fall Chef Madison Han invites you to celebrate Fall with a neighborhood dinner party

On Tap | NOVEMber 2018 |

inside Commissary. Chef Han’s inaugural, sold out Rosé Tasting Dinner brought the flavors of Spring to the District, and continues this series with a four-course tasting menu celebrating the arrival of Autumn featuring truffles and vegetables from the EatWell Natural Farm. General Manager and RAMMY Award winner Heidi Minora, along with Commissary mixologist & manager Jack Fisher, have curated a selection of local Virginia wines to pair with each course. The restaurant will accommodate food allergies, however the items will not be posted to preserve the integrity of our menu. Tickets $45. 7-10 p.m. Commissary DC: 1443 P St. NW, DC; Friendsgiving Trivia at Pinstripes “Every Thanksgiving, we used to have a touch football game called the ‘Geller Bowl.’” Let’s bring it in. Draft your team and head to Pinstripes Georgetown for Friends Trivia Featuring “The One with Friends Thanksgiving Episodes.” Losers walk! Yeah, losers talk! No, no, no, actually losers rhyme. The ENTIRE trivia will consist of the Friends Thanksgiving episodes, so brush up and bring your peas to put in the trifle. Free with RSVP. 7-9 p.m. Pinstripes: 1064 Wisconsin Ave. NW;

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 25 Chef Simone’s Cooking Class for Wine Lovers Join visiting chef Simone Proietti-Pesci as he celebrates the unique and delicate flavors that his Central Italian homeland has to offer by stepping into our test kitchen! This special edition of our cooking class series will include

a delicious three-course menu of Umbrian specialties, combined with the perfectly paired Umbrian wines! If you dare, there will be the opportunity to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. Chef Simone will teach you how to create a delicious meal that you can easily recreate, and which wines to pair. Tickets are $99. 7-10 p.m. Via Umbria: 1525 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC;

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30 TEDxTysons 2018: Legacy In the year 2228, how we supported values like education, diversity, culture, and ethics today will shape how our descendants experience the world. So, what issues will our generation choose to take on to leave the world a better place? What values, technology, and issues have we inherited and what do we want to leave behind? Join speakers like Rob Scheer, founder of Comfort Cases, and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield and more at the State Theatre in Falls Church for a day of reflection on Legacy. Tickets are $50. 4:30 11 p.m. The State Theatre: 220 N. Washington St., Falls Church, VA; Wine and Welding Learn how to weld in a fun evening! Spend three hours at Building Momentum. Enjoy some wine tasting and learn the safety of welding. Before the end of the night you will weld a wine rack to take home! Enjoy with a significant other or a friend. Tickets $225 per pair. Wine and Welding: 5380 Eisenhower Ave. C, Alexandria, VA;                                   

Go long for an ice-cold Corona at these locations: Rock & Roll Hotel RedRocks H Street Bar Louie Buffalo Billiards

Kirwan’s on the Wharf The Front Page Lou’s City Bar H Street Country Club

By Michael Coleman

Photos: Courtesy of Red Bull

housands of electronic gaming enthusiasts will descend on the new, stateof-the-art St. Elizabeths East Entertainment & Sports Arena in Southeast DC this month for four days of ferocious fighting. The November 16-18 battles won’t put flesh-and-blood fighters in a ring or a cage but rather virtual brawlers projected on massive video screens, as the nation’s best efighters square off in the Red Bull Conquest National Final. The event is expected to draw spectators from around the nation as fighters from 15 different regions vie for prizes and bragging rights as the ultimate competitors in “Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition,” “Tekken 7” and “Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2.” It’s a moment city officials hope will put DC on the map as fertile ground for the rapidly blossoming – and potentially hugely lucrative – esports industry. In fact, the new $65 million arena in Congress Heights, which will also serve as the home court of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and Wizards’ G League affiliate Capital City GoGo, was designed in part with esports competitions in mind. Jimmy Nguyen, national competition director for Red Bull Conquest, tells On Tap that the nation’s capital does not yet have the egaming reputation of California, New York or Texas, but it is rapidly earning its place on the map. He also says DC has a natural appeal for major showcases because it’s an attractive draw for tourists. “It could be the next area that could flourish and become a stage where we do all of our big events,” Nguyen says. “What we’re trying to do is create opportunities and grow together, and see where we can take this for years to come.” Events DC, the convention and sports authority for the District, has been angling to get the city involved in the esports realm for years, and finally scored big when it landed the Red Bull Conquest.



Max Brown, chairman of the Events DC board of directors, says the new arena is a natural fit for the virtual sports competition and was built to accommodate such events. “The arena was built with extreme Wi-Fi and the fastest ethernet to be able to create memorable experiences that are ideal for esports tournaments and its fans,” Brown says. “Tech is shaping the future of entertainment and with the cutting-edge capabilities of the new arena, esports is just another opportunity for us to showcase DC on a global stage – and attract even more events and visitors to the city, similar to Red Bull’s Conquest Final.” Earlier this year, Events DC also partnered with industry leader NRG Esports to establish a new training home for elite egamers based in DC. Nguyen says while Red Bull is famous primarily for its wildly popular energy drinks and sponsorship of extreme sports competitions, it has been aggressively moving into the esports realm for the past two years. “The next big thing is esports and gaming,” he says. “It’s something that we see as viable to the culture.” Nguyen also rejects the notion that esports are strictly for kids or “computer nerds.” He says that mode of thinking is seriously outdated. “Back in the day, it was easy to say this a little hobby that nerds and geeks do, but now we’re all geeks and nerds. The more mainstream it gets, it’s hard to say gaming doesn’t matter anymore. We recognize that, and we want to give everybody the opportunity to get involved.”

St. Elizabeths East Entertainment & Sports Arena: 1100 Oak Dr. SE, DC;

Photos: Mike Kim, Devin Overbey

In the realm of DC-based egaming, perhaps no figure looms larger than Austin “Boo” Painter – star player for the Wizards District Gaming, a virtual NBA team that just completed its first successful season in the burgeoning NBA 2K League. The 24-year-old former State Department security specialist from Luray, Virginia quit his job last year to become a professional egamer with Wizards 2K. Painter is among roughly 100 paid players in the new league chosen from among 72,000 contestants nationwide. The league pays for his housing and provides a salary that he says allows him to “live healthy” doing what he loves, which includes playing live ebasketball that is streamed to thousands of fans weekly. “I wake up every day and play [NBA] 2K,” he says, hardly seeming to believe it himself. “When I have kids, I’m never going to tell them to get off the video games because this could happen to them. Esports are growing, and now every little kid looks at video gamers like they want to do this all day too.” The Red Bull National Conquest Final takes place Friday, November 16 to Sunday, November 18. Tickets are $15. For more information, visit For more information about the Wizards District Gaming, visit

The Lindley’s grand opening celebration featured a live jazz trio, tours of the luxury space, and fare from local spots like La Ferme, Tavira Restaurant, Manoli Canoli and PassionFish Bethesda. | NOVEMBER 2018 | ON TAP


position for the past decade. Though he’s only 32 years old, he’s been playing in the NBA since the 2004-2005 season so he has some mileage on his legs, which could be a cause for concern later in the season. He’s averaged nearly 18 points and 13 rebounds per game during his career, providing a consistent presence on the boards and in the paint on both sides of the court. Because of early injuries, Howard has missed much of the team’s lackluster start to the season; however, he should make his triumphant return in early November. Meanwhile Rivers can play the point and offball, and is a capable scorer who averaged 15 points per game last season for the Los Angeles Clippers. His flexibility gives the team a reliable third guard, a piece they’ve been searching for since signing Wall and Beal to big extensions in the past few years. As of late October, the team is 1-5 with several noticeable areas they could improve. Their By Trent Johnson rebound rate is dead last in the league with a paltry 42.9 percent. Considering the Wizards play with the third-highest pace, they’re leaving ample rebounds unaccounted for, giving other teams opportunities to get second and third shot attempts. Howard should help with this significantly upon his return, as the team has been forced to go small and play undersized guys like natural power forwards Markieff Morris and Green at center for extended minutes. Green is another newcomer who should help the Wizards down the stretch of the season. The power forward provides shooting and athleticism off the bench, and always has the potential to score 20-30 points in any game. The knock on his game throughout his career is the inconsistency of these flashes, because as exciting as they are when they’re happening, it can be maddening to watch when they’re not. Returning players rounding out the team are Photo: Getty Images, courtesy of Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Morris at forward, small forward Kelly Oubre Jr., center Ian Mahinmi, guard Tomas Satoransky and he Washington Wizards should be center Jason Smith. reminding themselves it’s early, because Wing Troy Brown Jr., the team’s first-round pick of the 2018 NBA draft, it is. Even though our hometown team should also provide punch off the bench as he gets more comfortable has started slowly out of the gate, the playing in the league. At 6-foot-7, his length will help on the defensive nucleus of John Wall, Bradley Beal and side of the ball against Eastern Conference teams like the Milwaukee Otto Porter Jr. are undeniably talented. Bucks, Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors. And in an Eastern Conference that’s So yes, the Wizards have gotten off to a slow start, fielding a more top-heavy than deep, these three bottom-10 offensive (104.9) and defensive (114.5) rating so far this athletes should be more than enough to season. But with the talent of the roster and most of the season still get the team into the playoffs. ahead of them, it’s not time to panic yet. The new additions will help, And as the Wizards’ new additions get acclimated in head coach but Wall, Beal and Porter Jr. will be relied on heavily to steady the ship Scott Brooks’ system playing with the aforementioned stalwarts, the as the calendar progresses – something they did two years ago. squad should play better as the 2018-2019 season continues. For more information about the Washington Wizards and to purchase Fresh faces include future Hall of Fame center Dwight Howard, home game tickets, visit If you want to hear more combo guard Austin Rivers and veteran Jeff Green. Each player brings basketball opinions from Trent Johnson and a few of his friends, check out a skill set missing from the Wizards roster in past seasons, as the team his podcast Trolling the Paint on Spotify, iTunes or Anchor. often sputtered due to its lack of depth. The team shifted from longtime starting center Marcin Gortat to Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NW, DC Howard, a player who’s undoubtedly been one of the greatest at his 202-628-3200;

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On Tap | NOVEMBER 2018 |




Chef Tim Ma at American Son

Photo: Kait Ebinger

By Lani Furbank On Tap keeps locals in the know about the hottest new food and drink spots around town and the top culinary happenings of the month. Read on to get the inside scoop on what’s new and notable in the DC area.

NEW Call Your Mother Deli

Open: October 11 Location: Park View Lowdown: When Andrew Dana and the Timber Pizza team were trying to come up with a name for their new deli, they tossed around phrases that a Jewish grandmother might yell. Someone shouted, “Call your mother!” and the deli was born. The Boca-meets-Brooklyn shop is branded as “Jew-ish” because while they serve deli classics, they strive to put modern twists on expected dishes. Their bagels are the main event, with the production line and custom wood-fired Marra Forni bagel oven front and center in the open kitchen. Chef Daniela Moreira has created a recipe that takes the team’s favorite parts of both New York and Montreal-style bagels – with the texture and chew of a New York bagel and the sweetness and char of a Montreal bagel. The bagels are featured in a variety of sandwiches, like the Amaré with candied salmon cream cheese (from Ivy City Smokehouse), cucumber, crispy shallots and micro radish on a za’atar bagel, and the Rashida (named after Dana’s half-Jewish celebrity crush) with peanut butter, bacon apple and honey on a sesame bagel. There’s also a pupu platter of bagel toppings and shmears called the Big Ass Bagel Board. Challah and other breads are also made in the oven and available in sandwiches like the Greenberg, a Philly cheesesteak



with pastrami and brisket. Other Jew-ish specialties include whitefish croquettes and matzah ball soup with a South American twist inspired by Moreira’s Argentinian heritage. The deli’s custom coffee blend is Just Coffee by Lost Sock Roasters. Dana says he asked them for something that didn’t have the fruit notes that many third-wave coffees are known for, but instead just tastes like coffee. It’s ideal for sipping while watching the world go by in the windowfacing rocking chairs, which are the most coveted of the mismatched seats in the pastel pink and teal space. This month, Call Your Mother plans to kick off their weekly supper club with themes like homemade pasta, brisket and latkes, gourmet fast food, and New York-style pizza. 3301 Georgia Ave. NW, DC;

Eaton Workshop Open: September 7 and October 15 Location: Downtown Lowdown: The global brand Eaton Workshop opened their hotel on K Street this fall, complete with four food and beverage concepts led by Chef Tim Ma. Each has its own niche within the hotel, from morning coffee and pastries to late night tacos and tunes. On the lobby level, Kintsugi is a wellness-driven, all-day café with organic, fair trade coffee from Red Rooster, mushroom hot chocolate, a range of pastries including gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options, plus wine and beer.

The main attraction on the first floor is the street-facing American Son, where Ma presents American food through the lens of immigrants. The name is a reflection of Ma’s childhood, growing up in the 70s and facing discrimination as one of the only Asian families in Arkansas. His parents tried to help Ma assimilate throughout his upbringing, even introducing him as “my American son.” Some dishes pull flavors from Ma’s Chinese heritage, while others are influenced by international cuisines like French and Middle Eastern. Diners will recognize a few similarities from Kyirisan like Cloud Terre tableware, a tofu gnocchi and a focus on deconstructing techniques. The large format dishes like spaghetti squash ssam and fried whole red snapper are cooked in a wood-fired pizza oven. The restaurant is also open late, with a menu modeled after the idea of Peach Pit from Beverly Hills, 90210. Nestled further inside the lobby, Allegory offers craft cocktails in a hidden salon accented by images of Alice in Wonderland via the experience of civil rights activist Ruby Bridges. On the roof, Wild Days is an indoor/outdoor music venue and bar serving pan-Asian tacos. 1201 K St. NW, DC;

Officina Open: October 15 Location: The Wharf Lowdown: Chef Nicholas Stefanelli’s latest project is three stories of Italian culinary

exploration, starting on the first floor with a market and café, continuing upstairs with a neighborhood restaurant and amaro library, and culminating on the roof with an al fresco terrace and private dining room. Stefanelli intended each concept to have its own personality and purpose, visited at different times of day for different moods. The café is open all day, beginning with light breakfast fare like pastries and coffee and then evolving into a menu of sandwiches, Roman pizzas, arancini and cocktails. Stefanelli’s goal with the market, or mercato, is to be a space for sourcing top quality, hard-tofind Italian goods like olive oils, vinegars and wines; picking up prepared foods like pastas, sauces and breads made onsite; and finding luxury items like foie gras, caviar and truffles. On the second floor, the restaurant, or trattoria, is an approachable spot for salumi, cheeses, pastas and hearty butcher cuts. The amaro library, or salotto, allows guests to explore decades worth of Italian spirits either in tasting flights or cocktails. The rooftop, or terrazza, is inspired by elegant rooftops in Rome, offering a full bar and an emphasis on champagne. When the weather warms up next spring, cheese and charcuterie boards will also be available. The expansive space lives up to its name – Officina means workshop in Italian – as

an epicurean hub where everything from pasta-making to butchery is done in-house. 1120 Maine Ave. SW, DC;

Reverie Open: October 6 Location: Georgetown Lowdown: Your Uber driver might have a hard time finding chef Johnny Spero’s new restaurant. Reverie is tucked down a cobblestone alley in a historic building near the canal in Georgetown. Though the exterior is timeworn, the interior is minimalist and modern, taking after Nordic design. The cuisine follows suit, with dishes that skip overwrought techniques in favor of letting the ingredients speak for themselves. Those ingredients are far from typical, from paddlefish roe and beef tongue to celtuce and leek ash. Spero refines steak and potatoes by pairing perfectly seasoned ribeye with tiny potato crisps and reimagines lovage as a granita accented with chamomile. Large format dishes like crispy roast duck with black licorice and fennel are meant to be shared. The bar zeroes in on sherry and vermouth, a nod to Spero’s love for Spain. Cocktails are curated by Columbia Room’s JP Fetherston, with drinks like the Dutch Salute with genever,

6.9% ABV I 56 IBU

sherry, vermouth, koji and citrus. As part of the restaurant’s goal to make fine dining more accessible, Spero plans to offer two “pay-what-you-can” seats each night. 3201 Cherry Hill Ln. NW, DC;

NOTABLE New Beverage Director at Nocturne Location: Shaw Lowdown: The cocktail bar beneath Sugar Shack in Shaw recently appointed a new beverage director to oversee the program. Hakim Hamid created the Atlas, a menu of globally inspired cocktails paired with small plates by Chef Brandon McDermott. The drinks reflect four regions around the world: the Middle East, Scandinavia, the Americas and Western Europe. Highlights include the Norra Sidan, which is similar to an Old Fashioned but with Nordic flair from fennel- and celery-infused vodka, and the Red Spotted Stem with vodka, champagne, rose, pomegranate, orange blossom, cardamom and clove. 1932 9th St. NW, DC;

6.0% ABV I 18 IBU

Hours of Operation:

Mon – Closed I Tues – Sat 11am – 11pm I Sun 11am – 9pm

Live Music Wednesday – Sunday

For Events & More:

9925 Discovery Blvd I Manassas, Virginia, VA 20109 I 703.420.2264 I | NOVEMber 2018 | On Tap


DMV Black Restaurant Week Highlights Local, black-Owned Businesses By Michelle Goldchain Photo: M.K. Koszycki


rom November 4 through 11, Washingtonians will be able to enjoy good eats and empowering signature events poised to tackle issues of diversity and inclusion in the restaurant industry. The inaugural DMV Black Restaurant Week will highlight black-owned restaurateurs, chefs and caterers in the region, with 20-plus locations serving discounted deals or prix fixe menus for $25 or less. “We want to be able to create a platform,” says cofounder Erinn Tucker, who describes the new restaurant week as locally grown but globally aware. “We want to use this opportunity to really give back.” Tucker, a Georgetown University professor for the Master’s in Global Hospitality Leadership program, is one of three restaurant/hospitality veterans behind the already well-received and well-publicized event. She’s joined by Andra “AJ” Johnson, who is in the process of publishing White Plates, Black Faces, a book that puts a spotlight on black culinary talent and addresses cultural neglect in the industry. Third cofounder Furard Tate worked as the chef for H Street-based Inspire BBQ before it closed and is now getting ready to open Brookland’s Love Market, a business designed to train those between the ages of 19 and 25 in a fast-casual restaurant setting. “I’ve watched this city change and have been a part of it as a business owner as well as a resident,”Tate says. “I know this city, so this is something that we have been collectively working on for awhile. We want to educate



the community [on how to] support these restaurants, because a lot of them are closing. An educated consumer is a much better consumer.” Po Boy Jim’s Jeff Miskiri says he’s hopeful the restaurant week will be advantageous for newer establishments participating in the event, including his five-year-old Cajun restaurant on H Street. “That’s what it’s all about,” he says. “It’s not just about me. It’s about everyone coming together as a whole.” DC icon Ben’s Chili Bowl is also participating, and cofounder Virginia Ali says it’s spectacular that the District has so many restaurants representative of various cultures across the globe. “DMV Black Restaurant Week is something new and exciting for Washingtonians to come and enjoy, and hopefully it’s going to grow over the years,” she says. The restaurant week’s three signature events include a kickoff networking opportunity on November 4 at the Union Oyster Bar and Lounge near Union Market, the R. R. Bowie Bartender Club competition on November 5 at Service Bar in Shaw, and the Business of Food and Beverage Education Conference on November 10 at the University of the District of Columbia. Conference panels will range from “Workplace Culture: Rethinking the Workplace” to “Miseducation of the Black Diner,” including discussions on important topics like employee safety, tipping, stereotypes of the black diner, and treatment of the black server.

Photo: Keon Green, KTGworks

Cofounders Furard Tate, Andra “AJ” Johnson and Erinn Tucker

We want to be able to create a platform. We want to use this opportunity to really give back.

The theme of the bartending competition is “Black History Makers of the DMV,” and contestants will pay tribute to the DC area through their cocktails. Participating restaurants will not only be able to enjoy continued support from the community, but also from their peers like the Restaurant Association of Maryland and National Restaurant Association. “We’re not just letting people [try] the food,” Tate says. “We’re also helping these restaurants sustain themselves [through] our allied relationships and partnerships.” Plans are also in the works for quarterly programming to further bolster the local restaurant community, according to Tucker. “In five years, we really see this as an initiative [that becomes] a signature event for the globe,” she says. “We are a global city. We are a global environment. People will be traveling in for this particular event.” The full roster of restaurants, bars and other spots participating in this year’s DMV Black Restaurant Week has not yet been announced but check for updates. Follow the event on Twitter and Instagram @dmvbrw.

Winterbock Is Coming!

Visit our Facebook page for updates on our

Tapping Party

Now booking for the holiday season. Book your event with us today Navy Yard

100 M Street SE | Washington, DC | 202.484.2739

Note: DMV Black Restaurant Week is in no way affiliated with Black Restaurant Week, LLC, which plans on expanding to the District in 2019. The event is also not the first of its kind in the area. In 2015, a Black Restaurant Week was organized by ABlackLife LLC and New York-based I DON’T CLUBS brought Black-Owned Restaurant Month to DC. | NOVEMBER 2018 | ON TAP


By Trent Johnson

e’ve all heard the tale of the first Thanksgiving: a feast where settlers from England and Native Americans gathered around a large wooden dining table outdoors and passed turkey, stuffing and other treats around until everyone was full, happy and thankful. While turkey and stuffing have become staples in the cultural zeitgeist, Native American food hasn’t, until now. The tide is shifting, and according to an October CNN article, Native American fare is undergoing a refreshing revival around the country. In DC, there is only one restaurant dedicated to its promotion: the Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe located on the first floor of the National Museum of the American Indian. The Mitsitam menu is designed by Head Chef Freddie Bitsoie, who became the first Native American chef for the cafe in 2016. “I think the reason why [there is a resurgence] is because of people like myself,” Bitsoie says. “Native food is something that wasn’t popular until Native chefs started talking about it. I had always been taught at a young age that people aren’t going to care until you make them care. So most Native chefs have that mentality. Whatever your point of view is, make them talk about it.”



NMAI Head Chef Freddie Bitsoie

Photo: Trent Johnson

Bitsoie also references Bobby Flay and Martha Stewart making fried bread on their shows, which caused people to tag and text him snippets with comments indicating the famed and white chefs had no right to culturally appropriate the dish. He disagreed, simply saying that he makes a “damn good” ossobuco, and if he could demo it on TV then he would. “No Italian chefs would say, ‘I don’t have the right to do that,’” Bitsoie says. “Appropriating Native arts like jewelry [and] fashion, to me, is fine. But food is personal and people want to go home and try things they like. It’s a very fine line to promote and talk about it. But if people are mimicking it, we’re doing what we’re supposed to.” One reason Native American foods continue to climb in culinary popularity is the fact that they are immeasurably diverse and expansive. As a person without in-depth food knowledge (I’m not really a foodie, if you will), the first thing I think of on mention of Native American food is corn-based dishes and buffalo meat. I was uneducated about salmon planks or the wide variety of soups indigenous chefs have concocted throughout history.

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Catering 703.778.8000 “People really do think boring, bland and grainy when they think of Native foods,” Bitsoie says. “These are things myself and other chefs are trying to change. For instance, New England clam chowder is a soup that has an ancestral path to the North Atlantic. Tribes from Nova Scotia would make soup with clams, sunchokes and sea water. When the English came, they added their cream and butter and that’s how it came to be. I researched and researched to see if there was a clam chowder from England, and I couldn’t find one.” With Thanksgiving this month, there’s no better time for these dishes to move to the forefront of the culinary world and find homes on menus nationwide. For Bitsoie, Native American foods should still hold weight during the holiday because of its historical significance. “When it comes to historical stories and historical things, a lot of genocide and other things occurred,” Bitsoie says. “I think more people got along than what we’re portraying, and fed each other. We still have things like the state fair, [which is] a celebration of sharing food.” Bitsoie says Thanksgivings were pretty standard growing up, with the exception of being at his grandmother’s house where they would pick a sheep and butcher it for an evening meal. These days, his work includes concocting the cafe’s holiday specials. This year’s Thanksgiving options range from your standard turkey to change-up tastes like bison and salmon. “I think people should be more interested in eating gourd squash,” Bitsoie says. “I think it’s used more as decor right now. What I like to do is rough chop it, toss it in sugar and bake it. It’s a very versatile dish. And I think people should utilize quail a lot more. It’s a very good bird.” To learn more about the Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe and its food specials for the holidays, visit National Museum of the American Indian: Independence Avenue and 4th Street in SW, DC; 202-633-6644;

Let us do the cooking!


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10/17/14 3:54 PM

All What’s On Tap listings are provided by the venues hosting them.

Greetings, beer nerds! As you likely know, there are a number of fantastic spots in the DMV where you can grab a pint, and their menus are always evolving and adapting to your tastes. If you’d rather avoid the guessing game, check out what’s coming up at a few of these fine establishments.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7 Guided Mead Tasting at Capitol Cider House Come learn all about mead (aka honey wine) from the team at Orchid Cellar, Maryland’s premier meadery. The best part? Your ticket includes a guided tasting through six handcrafted meads. The cider house will remain open following the second session for attendees who wish to sample more of the menu. First session at 6 p.m., second session at 8 p.m. Tickets $15. Capitol Cider House: 3930 Georgia Ave. NW, DC;

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8 Brew Republic Fall Beer Dinner Enjoy a four-course dinner paired with Brew Republic beers, including hearty greens, pork belly medallions, honey baked Cornish hen and red wine poached pears with sorbet. 5-8 p.m. Tickets $55. Brew Republic Bierwerks: 15201 Potomac Town Pl. Woodbridge, VA; Brewmaster Tour at Heurich House Museum Admission includes an hour-long guided tour of the museum and a local craft beer tasting from Bluejacket. Receive one beer flight per person, featuring 4 oz. pours of three local beers, and experience the Brewmaster’s Castle with a drink in your hand. After the tour, you are welcome to mingle in the Conservatory and purchase full beers. 5-6:30 p.m. Tickets $30. Heurich House Museum: 1307 New Hampshire Ave. NW, DC;

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10 Fourth Annual Movemberfest Pig Roast Hosted by Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar, this event features amazing food provided by Chef Ryan Gordon of The Queen Vic and frosty beverages by the team at DC Brau Brewery. As always, there will be a cash raffle with hundreds of dollars in prizes and this year will include a silent auction with all types of amazing


On Tap | November 2018 |

DMV-centric prizes and memorabilia. 3-8 p.m. Tickets $60. Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar: 1104 H St. NE, DC; DC Beerathon The DC Beerathon is an annual tradition of craft and premium beers at DC’s best bars and restaurants, now in its 7th year. The original idea behind the Beerathon was to create a marathon event in November for those of you whose enthusiasm for running includes making a beer-run. Come enjoy all-day access to great beer and food at DC’s best venues. A ticket gets you a 6 oz. tasting pour of 26 beers, an all-access VIP pass to the 13 participating venues and a map to guide you. 12-10 p.m. Tickets $55. Check in at Nellie’s Sports Bar: 900 U St. NW, DC or Buffalo Billiards: 1330 19th St. NW, DC; Pizzeria Paradiso Autumn Fest Join in celebrating autumn for the third part of Paradiso Four Seasons Beer Fests. This season’s beer fest will take place at the Old Town Alexandria location. This festival will feature a draft line of seasonal favorites, rare and exceptional Virginia beer, cornhole, oversized Jenga and other games. The restaurant is partnering with Art Works Now to create a mini-pumpkin painting activity for kids, making this event fun for the entire family. Pizzeria Paradiso: 124 King St. Alexandria, VA;

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10 SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 11 Annual Cask Ale Festival at Mad Fox Brewing Company Join Mad Fox for the Mid-Atlantic’s largest cask ale event. Sample more than 30 special and limited edition cask conditioned ales from around the region at the two day, indoor event. Enjoy music and fantastic food while sipping traditional cask conditioned ales. There will be special tappings throughout the day on Saturday, with more offerings and special tappings to be announced. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. on both

days. Tickets $20 for both days. Mad Fox Brewing Company: 444 W Broad St. Falls Church, VA;

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 11 FlyFIT at DC Brau Don’t miss this fun fitness experience with our DC Brau. FlyFIT offers low impact cardio, endurance-based strength and mobility, and heavier strength training combined with high intensity intervals. Instructors Stephen Murray, David McMichael and Savannah Fox will lead you through this 45-minute workout, followed by a postworkout beer. 12:30-1:30 p.m. Free with registration. DC Brau: 3178 Bladensburg Rd. NE, DC; Paint & Brew at Forge Brew Works Novice painter? No worries. Artists will guide you through the painting step-bystep and you’ll be amazed with what you can do. Either follow the instructions or make it your own. Bringing a friend or partner? Save on tickets when you purchase a pair. Pre-registration is required. It is recommended to arrive 15 minutes early to check-in, choose your seats and grab your beer. Includes a flight of four beers. 1-3 p.m. Tickets $35-$60. Forge Brew Works: 8532 Terminal Rd. Lorton, VA;

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12 Lost Rhino Beer Dinner Craft beer is a passion, an obsession and a journey. From hoppy to malty to sour, take a trip through all the flavors. You’ll enjoy a welcome reception with a shared appetizer and a glass of tmavý before moving to a seated dinner featuring four brews and four courses from Matchbox executive chef Vekys Rodriguez de Lopez. 7-9 p.m. Tickets $55. Matchbox Vintage Pizza Bistro: 2911 District Ave. #120, Fairfax, VA;

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14 A Guided Pairing: Holidays & Beer As the holiday season approaches, let the Old Blue BBQ and Port City Brewing guide you through the various holiday feasts that lie ahead, such as Thanksgiving, New Years and, of course, Festivus. Food is an important part of any holiday tradition and Port City wants to make sure you are prepared with the best beers to complement each meal. In this jolly and unique pairing, each course will represent one holiday paired with the perfect beer for the occasion. There will be five holiday pairings, with five 8 oz. pours of your Port City favorites. 7-9 p.m. Tickets $45. Port City Brewery: 3950 Wheeler Ave. Alexandria, VA; Profs and Pints: The Genius of Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin’s genius is a puzzle. Born the tenth and youngest son of a decidedly humble family of puritan candle-makers, his rise to the front ranks of science, engineering and invention was as unexpected as it was meteoric. In this talk professor Richard Bell will examine many of Franklin’s ideas to make life simpler, cheaper and easier for himself and everyone else. It turns out that those ideas encompassed not only natural science and engineering – the kite experiments and the bifocals for which he is justly remembered – but also public works, civic improvements, political innovation and fresh new business ideas. Event at 6 p.m. Tickets $12. Bier Baron Tavern: 1523 22nd St. NW, DC;

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23 Hoppy Black Friday Yoga at Eavesdrop Brewing No better time to invite joy (and folds and twists for the digestive system) than the day after Thanksgiving, a.k.a. Black Friday. Sure, you could be stuck in lines at the mall for hours on end (you’ll need a good stretch after shopping), or you could roll out your mat at beautiful Eavesdrop Brewing for an hour of self-care indulgence, followed by delicious craft beer. 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Tickets $20. Eavesdrop Brewery: 7223 Centreville Rd. Ste. #115, Manassas, VA;

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 24 5th Annual DC Brau Holiday Market DC Brau’s 5th annual Holiday Market, presented in partnership with Think Local First DC, returns on Small Business Saturday. DC Brau will transform the brewery into a crafters marketplace for one day only, perfect for visitors to start (and finish) their holiday shopping with unique wares from more than 40 local artists and artisans in a unique indoor setting. 1-6 p.m. Free to attend, but VIP tickets are $10. DC Brau: 3178 Bladensburg Rd. NE, DC;

BrewLights at ZooLights Friends of the National Zoo’s hoppiest holiday event, BrewLights, a ticketed microbrew and craft beer event, will take place during ZooLights, powered by Pepco. Guests can enjoy beer tastings from dozens of breweries and sample complimentary snacks, all under the bright lights of DC’s favorite holiday tradition. All proceeds support the critical work of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute – including species preservation and animal care. 6-9 p.m. Tickets $40-$60. Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute: 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC;

Photos: Beauty by Photography


Crafthouse in Fairfax Corner hosted the Fall Year of Beer sampling event featuring five breweries. Guests sampled the different brews from each brewery and voted for their favorite. | NOVEMBER 2018 | On Tap



Heavy seas


with Founder Hugh Sisson By Trent Johnson

Photos: Courtesy of Heavy Seas


ow does an aspiring actor dreaming of big lights in New York City choose the life of a brewer over a career on Broadway? For Heavy Seas founder Hugh Sisson, two things come to mind: success and passion. In 1980, Sisson took the keys to the family pub rather than leave for an acting career. But instead of stashing cash for a few years and then heading to the city like he’d planned, the young man delayed and delayed until he realized he was already doing what he was meant to. “I had hesitations,” Sisson says. “It’s one of those things where you’re finishing grad school and have no money, and you’re heading into a field that doesn’t lend itself to cash flow.... my first inclination for this was temporary, it would allow me to save a few dollars and pay off some debt, and then hit New York with a few bucks in my pocket.” He never left Baltimore for New York. Instead, he ran the family tavern simply called Sisson’s until 1995, when he founded Heavy Seas Beer, a place where his brewing interests could flourish and grow.


On Tap | NOVEMber 2018 |

“The process of brewing is fascinating. When I started in the brewpub and it was me and a bunch of books, I was psyched about it. I’d wake up at 3 a.m., go into the office and brew a batch of beer.” “The process of brewing is fascinating,” Sisson says. “When I started in the brewpub it was me and a bunch of books, I was psyched about it. I’d wake up at 3 a.m., go into the office and brew a batch of beer. In those days, it was continuously fascinating and at the end of the day, you’d have a full tank of beer.” He brewed at Sisson’s for about five years, following a successful campaign to get brewpubs legalized in Maryland.

“Now people pick up the phone and order a brewery,” Sisson says with a laugh. “We had to figure all that crap out. By 1989, the family pub had became the first brewpub in Maryland, and that was an interesting transition.” Operating at a small scale allowed him to get his hands dirty and be creative with his recipes, but after tasting success at nearly every level, he was ready to move on to a larger operation and Heavy Seas was launched. Sisson took what he learned, found some other like-minded individuals crazy about brewing and began pumping out more beers. This included annual options like the American IPA Loose Cannon, Pounder Pils, Gold Ale and others. Now The brewery is one of Baltimore’s most notable and has produced several popular beers since its inception. “It changed and adapted, because as you get larger it becomes more of a business,” Sisson says. “You have to make a product for which there’s a market. You look at the market and figure out where there are holes. Since we don’t live in a world where you make one product and

“Since we don’t live in a world where you make one product and that’s all you do, especially in the craft segment, you’re going to have a portfolio of products.” that’s all you do, especially in the craft segment, you’re going to have a portfolio of products.” Though Sisson and Heavy Seas are into producing classic concoctions that will stand the test of time, they do dabble in seasonal releases that make sense. For instance, the brewery recently installed a 15-barrel pilot system which will allow them to test recipes in the tasting room without getting ahead of themselves with mass production. “It’s not going to represent a ton of volume, but it serves purposes,” Sisson says. “It gives us a new platform and it allows us to do something crazy at a small enough format to where we’re not betting the ranch. To the extent we can produce one-offs, it helps drive business in the taproom.” Apart from that, Sisson and his team at Heavy Seas is set to release their new Schnee Boot, a bourbon barrel-aged Eisbock. The brewery is also going to release new spring and winter beers in 2019, as well as some broader visual changes to the brand’s iconography. “We’re working on a logo change,” Sisson says. “It both excites me and terrifies me. We’ve had the current one for eight years, and we’re changing it because we have to. In small business and beer business, you have to be willing to reinvent yourself from time to time.” Despite the change in look, you can bet on Heavy Seas to deliver world-class beers in 2019 and beyond. For more information about Heavy Seas Brewing, brewery tours, taproom tastings or where to find Heavy Seas beer near you, visit Heavy Seas Brewing: 4615 Hollins Ferry Rd. Baltimore, MD 410-247-7822;


GREYHOUND 1½ oz Vodka ½ oz St. Elder Natural Elderflower Liqueur 3 oz Grapefruit Juice Grapefruit wedge & Rosemary sprig

Shake ingredients with ice & strain into a rocks filled glass. Garnish with a grapefruit wedge and rosemary sprig. For more recipe inspirations visit | @DrinkStElder ©2018 Produced & Bottled By St. Elder, Ltd., BOSTON, MA. 20% Alc/Vol (40 Proof)




Rule The Winter By Trent Johnson

This style encapsulates the craft movement, allowing for funky tastes that are heavy in alcohol and attitude.

he word imperial refers to something from an empire, breeding thoughts of power, dominance and royalty. For beer drinkers, it means heavy ABVs and potent flavors. As the winter sets in and winds blow, higher ABVs will once again become the most sought-after drinks – and their popularity in the world of craft brewing is only rising. “There’s nothing like it,” says Jeff Hancock, cofounder, president and brewmaster of DC Brau. “[I] still enjoy the very robust and aggressive flavors, and the ever-changing hop profiles. You want to see what brewers are doing to push boundaries of hops. Imperial IPAs are where one should start.” According to digital food magazine The Kitchn, imperial was first used to describe stouts brewed in England in the 1800s. Those particular beers were then shipped to Russia’s imperial court. From there, the term evolved into a common phrase attached to beers that are big and bold, featuring massive quantities of hops and malts that contribute to higher ABVs. “I think [imperial] beers excite customers in large part because they know [they’re] rarer,” says Ben Evans, head brewer at Hellbender Brewing Company. “We’re always challenging ourselves when we create new beer recipes. Imperial beers are a particularly fun challenge for us as brewers because we have to balance bolder flavors and hide the much higher alcohol levels.” When Evans says “hide,” he means to make them taste good. And Hellbender does, most recently offering a triple IPA called Beyond the Infinite with a double IPA set for release on November 10 as part of the brewery’s fourth anniversary. DC Brau also has a history of notable imperial releases and others on the way, such as their Sugar Leaf Hazy IPA set for a Thanksgiving debut. Other local breweries and retail locations with memorable imperial-style beers include 3 Stars Brewing Company, The Bruery Store, District Chophouse and Old Ox Brewery, to name a few. Though you’ll commonly see folks mention hops and IPAs when talking about the style, Old Ox actually attached the phrase to this season’s pumpkin ale.



“For Oxorcist II, the imperial brown ale base allows us to showcase fall spices without overwhelming the beer or your palate,” says brewer Ian Gildea. “The body from the malts and the addition of maple syrup balance the spices in a way that would be difficult in a low ABV beer.” The imperial category allows brewers to be more creative with limited releases, as the high ABVs encourage freedom. In a way, this style encapsulates the craft movement, allowing for funky tastes that are heavy in alcohol and attitude. “The way you raise ABV is to use more grain, and when you do that you have a richer flavor profile,” says Hugh Sisson, owner and founder of Baltimore’s Heavy Seas Brewing. “When ABV limits were put aside, there was sort of an explosion [for imperials]. There’s no doubt about it.” As the temperature drops, ABVs will rise and the average beer drinker’s palate will expand. For brewers, that’s a good thing as it brings fans of highbrow beers and more casual beerheads together, forming an even stronger craft beer empire. “[Imperials] are so hop-forward, everyone can pick up on the intense aromas,” Hancock says. “[This] sparks immediate conversation about the beverage, even if they don’t know much about the style. It’s like instant common ground that everyone can talk about and dissect.” Check out these local breweries to try new imperial-style releases. DC Brau: 3178 Bladensburg Rd. NE, DC Heavy Seas Brewing: 4615 Hollins Ferry Rd. Baltimore, MD Hellbender Brewing Company: 5788 2nd St. NE, DC Old Ox Brewery: 44652 Guilford Dr. #114, Ashburn, VA




By On Tap staff

There are few greater simple joys than listening to great live music with an even better drink in your hand. This month, we rounded up DC’s musically minded watering holes to find out more about their bars, drinks and live music lineups.



Savi Gopalan, Bar Manager

Christine Lilyea, Owner and GM Ana Latour, Bartender and Manager Photos: Trent Johnson

On Tap: What does Slash Run add to Petworth as a neighborhood? Ana Latour: There’s something about the versatility of Slash Run that speaks to its importance in Petworth. This neighborhood is a family spot, but also a growing place for young people who want to live in the city. Slash Run can be all of those things. OT: As a music venue, what’s the local to national act ratio? Christine Lilyea: It’s a mix of local and national. A lot of the people I work with are local bookers, but they always bring [artists] from out of town. AL: We had a band here last night from Japan. They were insane! It was probably one of the wildest things I’ve seen since I got here. The band who opened for them was from down the street. OT: Any local favorites you book regularly or try to bring into the mix as often as possible? CL: They’re from New York, and they’re called The Nuclears. They’re just really nice guys and their music is insanely good. It’s like Thin Lizzy [or] Cheap Trick – just good, in your face, on the ground sweating rock ‘n’ roll. OT: Tell us about the drinks at Slash Run. CL: I have managed restaurants before, so I’m really big on this. It’s supposed to be a dive bar and have shitty wine, but I can’t do it. I’m very picky about our wines and beers. If people want PBR, I’ll give it to them, but then I’ll find something cool too. Check Slash Run’s website for a full list of upcoming shows, including: Biff Bang Pow, a 60s garage/psych/glam vinyl dance party on November 4 Part Time with Bottled Up on November 10 Super Unison, Downtrodder, Coward and Bacchae on November 17 Slash Run: 201 Upshur St. NW, DC;

SPICED CIDER Cotton & Reed Mellow Gold Rum Warmed cider Cloves Cinnamon sticks Star anise Citrus butter Orange and lemon zest



On Tap: How has Sotto has changed since opening three years ago? Savi Gopalan: Sotto has really changed into a venue focusing on music. I think originally, the music was more of a perk rather than a focus; whereas now, we define ourselves as a music venue. OT: How do you think the local jazz scene has changed in recent years? Why is it important to offer live music at Sotto? SG: I think there’s more community behind it, not just within the musicians but the clientele as well. There’s a real connection within the jazz scene now that I don’t think was as predominant previously. OT: Do you have any new vinos this winter? SG: I’m really excited about the new rosé we’re offering by the glass, G.D. Vajra Rosabella. We have a smaller wine list because we are more of a cocktail-focused place, but I do like a lot of the options we offer. OT: What’s your process for crafting new cocktails each season? SG: When you’re going into a new season, I always look at what flavors are popular. I pick different flavors that stand out to me and I’ll build cocktails around that. For instance, the mezcal smokiness is appropriate for fall, [and] calvados too. Even though people don’t really do brandy cocktails anymore, I think it fits with the season. OT: It seems almost all your beers are local. Why is it important to support DC area breweries? SG: We definitely try to keep all of our beer choices super local. We try to push for local spirits as well, because there are so many great places in the area. It would be a shame not to have them on the list. Visit Sotto’s website for a full list of upcoming shows, including: The Lionel Lyles Quintet on November 9 Tashera on November 15 Champion Sound on November 29

Sotto: 1610 14th St. NW, DC;

BACK TO DECEMBER Red wine Mulled wine syrup Lemon Orange St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram

BE MERRY AND LITE Great Taste. Only 96 Calories. MILLER LITE. HOLD TRUE.



©2018 MILLER BREWING CO., MILWAUKEE, WI • BEER Avg. analysis (12 fl. oz.): 96 cals, 3.2g carbs, <1g protein, 0.0g fat.

ML_2018_Holiday_Snow_Globe_ON_TAP_8_25x10_75__W137784JC.indd 1

10/23/18 1:54 PM

KO Distilling’s Black Friday

Bare Knuckle Whiskey Release

THE CROWN & CROW Brian Harrison, Owner, Creator and Barman Ben Sislen, Owner Brooke Stonebanks, Event Coordinator

Brian Harrison & Ben Sislen

On Tap: What inspired your Victorian era theme? Ben Sislen: We were flexible with what we were going to be. It started when we found our bar in the front room and it was [from the] Victorian era timeframe. Brian Harrison: We thought the first room would be rustic, and the other would be sophisticated. Once that vintage feel took hold in the front, it carried throughout. OT: Your cocktail menu seems reflective of that time period as well. What was the creative process for coming up with unique takes on period cocktails? Brooke Stonebanks: I want to go along with the theme. The cocktails we had when we first opened were just plays off classic cocktails. Moving forward, the drinks will focus on obscure ingredients that promote smaller brands. OT: What kinds of cocktails are you looking to make this winter? Stonebanks: I want to focus on the spirit and and [make] simple cocktails. We have a lot of Irish and American whiskeys and we’re looking to add more. I want them to be whiskey-heavy. OT: What’s your process for booking musical acts? Any local names you use regularly? BS: Mostly local acts. We don’t charge a cover because we want the music to be accessible, and we want people coming in and trying out the bar. Visit Crown & Crow’s website for shows as they’re added through the month, including: Anthony Pirog on November 3 and Swampcandy on November 15

The Crown & Crow: 1317 14th St. NW, DC;

THE BURNING CROW High West Campfire Whiskey Five-spice syrup Orange bitters Cinnamon stick

LE CORBEAU SANGLANT Compass Box Great King St. Glasgow Blend Whisky Luxardo cherry sangue Dolin Rouge vermouth Blood orange juice



By Natalia Kolenko Black Friday is infamously a day for buying the newest and coolest gifts in preparation for the holiday season, but this year won’t just see the latest toys and tech making their debut. KO Distilling is releasing a line of new whiskeys, just in time to get a present for the spirit lover in your life. The celebratory release on Black Friday, November 23 features six new products from KO Distilling’s Bare Knuckle Single Barrel line, including Cask Strength (118-125 proof ) and 90 proof versions of their Straight Wheat, Straight Rye and Straight Bourbon Whiskeys. “Cask Strength versions are bottled directly from the barrel without dilution, and can range from around 118 to around 125 proof,” says Bill Karlson, cofounder, president and sales and marketing director of KO. “Bottling our Bare Knuckle Whiskeys at this higher proof produces a wonderful depth of flavor and heat.” Speaking of the distilling process, KO is committed to using 100 percent Virginia-based grain, and including the ingredients used in their Bare Knuckle whiskeys. “We plan to use over 300 tons of locally grown grain, helping our Virginia agricultural economy,” says John O’Mara, cofounder, president and head distiller at KO. The hand-selected Bare Knuckle Single Barrel whiskeys will be released in limited supply and can only be found at KO Distilling. Join them for their commemorative release to get your bottle with a Black Friday deal that includes a “Single Barrel” special label, unique bottle number and handwritten signatures from cofounders Karlson and O’Mara. The distillery will also offer a 20 percent discount on all their spirits for Black Friday. Join KO Distillery on Friday, November 23 from 12-7 p.m. for the celebratory release of their six new Bare Knuckle Single Barrel products. You can also reserve your commemorative bottle today at

KO Distilling: 10381 Central Park Dr. Manassas, VA 571-292-1115;

Imperial Stout Aged in Oak Bourbon Barrels

DONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;T BE AFRAID OF THE

DARK AVAILABLE AT A RETAILER NEAR YOU 495 Cooperative Way. Arrington, VA 22922 | (434) 263 - 4002 | Please Drink Responsibly

Foodie Forecast DC Cocktail Week

Returns By Kayla Marsh

Photo: Courtesy of Sally’s Middle Name

Photo: Courtesy of American Son

DC Cocktail Week is taking our city by storm again this fall with innovative cocktails carefully crafted by 60-plus participating local restaurants and bars. From November 12-18, DC area foodies are invited to enjoy the ultimate one-price food and cocktail pairings at this annual Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington event. On Tap chatted with a dozen DMV-based spots participating in this year’s festivities to get the scoop on their featured cocktails and buzzworthy beverage programs.

Allegory, American Son & Wild Days at Eaton Workshop

The Apple

DC’s brand-new Eaton Workshop isn’t just the latest boutique hotel downtown; it’s a progressive space designed to promote social justice and a strong sense of community. Eaton is home to two cocktail bars, the speakeasy-style Allegory and enclosed rooftop venue Wild Days, and Chef Tim Ma’s latest venture American Son, a stunning comfort food restaurant with a nod to global fare. “Every space [within Eaton] has its purpose and feel to it that’s different than anyplace else,” says Ma, who also owns popular FrenchAsian fusion spot Kyirisan. He says that everything on American Son’s menu is very ingredientand produce-driven. “If you look at the menu, it’s the [main] ingredient – that’s how you name each cocktail. That’s the centerpiece of each one.” Eaton’s beverage manager Alexandra Bookless is particularly excited about the Apple, one of American Son’s fall cocktails.



“I think that the Apple will be a huge hit,” she says. “It’s a quintessential fall/winter flavor. Some whiskey and cherry in there give it some nuttiness. I think it’s super delicious, so I hope people like it.” Guests can enjoy quality tequila- and mezcal-heavy cocktails at Wild Days. Whether you’re lounging by the outdoor firepit or enjoying high-energy live music, you can sip on a refreshing drink like featured cocktail Imagine, an apple-celery margarita with an ancho-celerysalt rim, or Plug on Oaxaca, a spin on traditional cocktail Lion’s Tail that Bookless says is served on the rocks with mezcal “so you get that smoky flavor going into fall.” The celery margarita and smoky cocktail were crafted to pair perfectly with Ma’s Asian-inspired taco menu. Back downstairs, Allegory’s intimate ambiance makes you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a hidden locale. Guests navigate from Eaton’s lobby to its politically charged library where they’ll find a subtly nestled door to Allegory leading to the dimly lit, art-filled space. Ma says the bar was designed to resemble the Bemelmans Bar on the Upper East Side. Bookless recommends Allegory’s Kokoro, a unique take on a gimlet. “Instead of gin, we use a split base of sake, sherry and overproof rum,” Bookless says. Add house-made fino, lime cordial and amazake to the mix and suddenly you have a “really nice light, fermented, yeasty, bready flavor,” according to the beverage manager. “It’s cool and beautiful in its own way,” she says of the Kokoro. But her passion extends to Eaton Workshop as a whole. “We’re a different hotel, and we have very concentrated and curated programs here. I hope people can appreciate and enjoy them.” 1201 K St. NW, DC;;;

Photo: Courtesy of Fish by José Andrés

Photo: Courtesy of Baba


FISH by José Andrés

WU Gentleman

This Balkan cocktail bar tucked beneath Ambar’s Clarendon location offers an eclectic drink menu ranging from light and refreshing to strong and buzzy. General Manager Marijana Skerlic says Baba recently added a new category to its cocktail list – Drinks with Benefits – featuring WU Gentleman, a twist on the famous New Orleans libation Vieux Carre that’s served in a jar full of smoke right before your eyes. “We will be playing with rakia, [our] national brandy made from fermentation of different kind of fruits,” Skerlic says. “Rakia warms you up in any shape.” Pro tip: try the spot’s popular cocktail Welcome to Belgrade, made with apple-based rakia, vodka and apple juice.

Salt Air Margarita

Fish by José Andrés at MGM National Harbor is known for its elevated seafood classics. The cocktail menu “captures the spirit of Chef José Andrés, while equally remaining conscious of the flavors he commands from the dishes he creates,” says MGM Director of Communications Malik Husser. “Our mixologists take pride in [their craft], always wanting to provide an imaginative experience,” Husser continues. “This winter, we have a spirit-focused menu with warm flavors. We’ll be using less sweeteners and juices to allow each spirit to be elevated.” Customer favorites include José’s Gin & Tonic, the Tractor Pull and DC Cocktail Week pick the Salt Air Margarita. Husser says all of these cocktails are balanced and “created to blend seamlessly, allowing the spirit to play the leading role.”

2901 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA;



Photo: Courtesy of Iron Gate

Photo: Maya Oren

101 MGM National Ave. Oxon Hill, MD

Iron Gate

You don’t have to travel far for the holidays to enjoy an island-inspired cocktail. In fact, you can drink a fruity, citrus-flavored rum cocktail right in DC – or nearby Sterling, Virginia – at Cuban-inspired Colada Shop. With an impressive lineup of authentic Cuban coffee, cocktails and fare, beverage director Mario Monte is excited to focus on warm spices used widely throughout the Caribbean like sweet plantains, cinnamon, brown sugar, lots of citrus, tamarind and delicious, homemade cider for Colada’s winter libations. “Our special item this winter season, [the Carajillo cocktail is] a gorgeous blend of rum and Licor 43 that is truly diverse,” he says. This seasonal cocktail is served hot with fresh espresso or shaken up in a coupe. Warm up this winter with the Carajillo and other featured drinks on Colada’s menu.

Greek and Southern Italian-inspired mainstay Iron Gate will incorporate smoke, root vegetables, earthy amaro and nuts into its seasonal drinks. Spirits manager Nick Farrell says the Dupont Circle restaurant’s Choc Full O’Nuts blends Italian coffee liqueur, nocino, port-finished rye and a touch of chocolate, and predicts that the cocktail will be a favorite throughout the winter months. Iron Gate is all about what’s fun for the guests, such as the sharable Greek sangria or the eye-catching Amaro Highball featured during DC Cocktail Week. This Italian cocktail is served in a Coke bottle and is “straightforward, challenging and whimsical all at once.” “The [Amaro Highball] really does taste like a cola so you can just enjoy it without even thinking about it,” Farrell says. “We have fun with ideas and flavors.”

1405 T St. NW, DC and 21430 Epicerie Plaza, Sterling, VA

1734 N St. NW, DC; | NOVEMBER 2018 | ON TAP


Sally’s Middle Name

Famous Sling

This high-end Mexican restaurant at The Wharf is featuring the Famous Sling for DC Cocktail Week, concocted with Fidencio Clásico mezcal, Plantation Rum Pineapple, Aperol and St. George Raspberry Brandy – just one of many ingredient-packed beverages at the waterfront spot. “We celebrate agave,” says beverage director Darlin Kulla. The secondary part of the drink menu “highlights creative cocktails with different agave spirits such as mezcal and sotol.” This season, expect intense, warming flavors at Mi Vida. “We see a similar trend with exploring anejos and mezcal,” Kulla continues. “The smoke and spice in both appeal to guests in the colder months.” If you’re into sweet and spicy, sipping on the Cielo Rojo Margarita made with spicy watermelon juice will add some heat to your chilly days.

Photo: Courtesy of Sally’s Middle Name

Photo: Courtesy of Mi Vida

Mi Vida

Golden Hind

Approachable, local and educational are the adjectives beverage director Gary Enchelmaier uses to describe the cocktail menu at Sally’s Middle Name. “I try to use the most local ingredients and create the drink menu with base spirits in mind,” he says. The hip H Street locale’s cocktails are sure to be warming and welcoming this winter, and Sally’s perfect example of that is DC Cocktail Week pick the Golden Hind made with One Eight Distilling’s District-made, barrel-aged gin, local apple brandy, local amaretto and black walnut bitters. Though the cocktails are experimental and delicious, Enchelmaier says ultimately, the goal is to let the food shine. “I’ll work with the kitchen to really see where they’re going. My decisions for the bar have to pair well with our food first.” Stop by this farm-to-table spot for a unique and fresh pairing experience. And for every cocktail pairing sold during DC Cocktail Week, Sally’s Middle Name will donate $1 to Roots for Life, a nonprofit centered in food-insecure DC areas to educate and empower communities.

98 District Sq. SW, DC;

The Partisan

The Everlasting Gaze

Penn Quarter’s The Partisan, which shares walls with Red Apron Butcher and is a go-to cocktail spot for local theatregoers pre- and post-show, is always trying to find creative ways to express flavors on its drink menu. “We go back and forth with our chef team, [distilleries] and even [local] farmers to create drinks that are whimsical, nuanced and just plain smashable,” says spirits manager Brian McGahey. Chef Nate Anda concocts dishes with rich, deep flavors, and McGahey says the cocktail menu aims to support that with “balanced acid profiles and savory notes.” “From herbaceous to spiced, [our] drinks have enough body and flavor to warm you up.” The Everlasting Gaze seems to be the right cocktail for chilly weather, featuring Maison Rouge Cognac, Velvet Falernum, roasted Yokohama squash puree, coconut cream and St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram. Come try this boozy, flavor-packed drink during DC Cocktail Week. 709 D St. NW, DC;



Photo: Courtesy of Slate Wine Bar + Bistro

Photo: Courtesy of The Partisan

1320 H St. NE, DC;

Slate Wine Bar + Bistro

Flying Monk

“Simple, yet eclectic,” says chef and sommelier Danny Lledó about the Glover Park spot’s drink menu. Slate will offer two new cocktails for DC Cocktail Week: the “light, airy and refreshing” Flying Monk made with vodka, green chartreuse and lime juice, and the festive Pumpkin Old Fashioned featuring roasted pumpkin-infused whiskey. Slate’s extensive wine list looks to “introduce new tastes of obscure and unique wines to discover” while the cocktail menu aims to maintain “a balance of boozy cocktails and more fruit-driven cocktails,” according to Lledó. Indulge in other deliciously balanced Slate favorites such as The Lobbyist (Slate’s take on a rickey) or The Prossecorita, a refreshing margarita topped with prosecco and berries. 2404 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC;

Photo: @uncondiner on Twitter

Photo: Courtesy of Stable


Unconventional Diner

Brandied Pear

This Swiss establishment on H Street offers a particularly creative theme for its cocktail program, focusing on “medicinal” concoctions like absinthe, amaro, schnapps and other authentic ingredients like old-school and herbal liquors from Switzerland. “We’re focusing on our medicinal cocktails during the flu season,” says beverage director Silvan Kraemer. “And hot cocktails come back into play around the end of November.” The Immune Booster has been a popular cocktail this fall, featuring bourbon, raspberry schnapps and lemon juice. “During the fall, people tend to drink darker spirits,” he continues. “They can enjoy this well-balanced cocktail with nice acidity, bourbon notes and that fresh rose hip finish.” Try Stable’s DC Cocktail Week pairing for something truly unique: a ham and Dijon mustard croissant and the Brandied Pear Cocktail made with Asbach Uralt brandy, Williams Pear Schnapps, lemon juice and rosemary simple syrup.

Chef David Deshaies is turning a familiar flavor pairing into what beverage director Andra Johnson calls “a twist on a popular classic” for DC Cocktail Week. The trendy restaurant – just a stone’s throw from the Washington Convention Center – will offer the foie gras PB&J to adventurous eaters during the event. Served on toast with Concord grapes, port reduction, pomegranate seeds, sliced celery and dehydrated peanut butter snow, the dish will be paired with The Jam, made with Dogfish Head Roasted Peanut Vodka, Jack Natural Grenadine, port reduction and lemon. Not into PB&J? Go for the seasonally versatile Paradise City with bourbon, hibiscus liqueur, Velvet Falernum and lime, served on the rocks and garnished with an orchid blossom.  “The flavors are fresh and fun without being too bright or too sweet,” Johnson says. “[The Paradise City has] definitely [been] a crowd-pleaser since I put it on the list back in July.” 1207 9th St. NW, DC;

Photo: Succotash

1324 H St. NE, DC;


Hey Peanut

This upscale, Southern-inspired spot in Penn Quarter puts a heavy focus on whiskey – specifically bourbon – as its driving force, according to beverage director Darlin Kulla. “We update our cocktails based on seasonality while focusing on crafting great classics such as [the] Old Fashioned, Manhattan [and] Mint Julep, among others.” With a menu of fun, Southern-themed cocktails like Hey Peaches and Scarlett Sunset, Succotash is adding another smashing option for DC Cocktail Week: bourbon-based libation Hey Peanut featuring Buffalo Trace Eagle Rare bourbon, house-made salted peanut orgeat and yellow chartreuse. Kulla says bourbon drinkers come out in the winter ready to explore new takes on their preferred spirit, so be sure to check out Succotash during the event to expand your palate.

DC Cocktail Week takes place from Monday, November 12 to Sunday, November 18. To learn more about pricing and participating venues, visit

On Tap Magazine is a proud program sponsor of DC Cocktail Week.

915 F St. NW, DC; | NOVEMBER 2018 | ON TAP



SCOTCH By Travis Mitchell

Quadrant Bar & Lounge

Whisky and bourbon continue to dominate bar shelves and cocktail menus around DC, all the more so as the brisk temperatures roll in and the nights become longer. The sweet, nutty and woody notes of a well-made Old Fashioned cut through even the stiffest of fall gales. Yet for all of DC’s growing interest in and curiosity toward brown spirits, the city is still warming up to cocktails made with Scotch whisky – arguably the most well-revered style in the family. For one, Scotch (referring to whisky made across Scotland) is often seen as a high-quality liquor that shouldn’t be mixed or diluted with other spirits or ingredients. “While Scotch has been around forever and is one of the most beloved spirits in the world, it’s known to be by itself,” says Chris Mendenhall, lead mixologist at Quadrant Bar in DC’s West End. He says he’s only used Scotch whiskies in a handful of the recipes he’s created for Quadrant, bringing up another reason for the overall lack of Scotch drinks on cocktail lists. “Scotch is very difficult to work with,” he continues. “It has such a strong character to it.” This character ranges from the pungent and smoky peat of whiskies from Scotland’s Islay region to sweeter, grassier drams of Speyside. The possibilities are enough to make a drinker’s head spin before ever taking a sip. Placing the spirit in a cocktail requires some additional, careful calculation. “In an original cocktail, using Scotch is tough,” says Ben Long, general manager of Reliable Tavern in Petworth. “The ingredients need elbows.” In other words, they need enough of their own “oomph,” or elbow room, to remain distinct without becoming overpowered. Think ingredients like ginger and zippy citruses. Mendenhall is a fan of the Blood and Sand, a classic drink and a feature on his upcoming cocktail menu. It features Scotch, sweet vermouth, cherry brandy and freshly-squeezed orange juice, resulting in a flavor profile that softens up some of the spirit’s harsh edges. Classic Scotch cocktails are also a favorite at Reliable Tavern, where bartenders guide guests through cocktail orders by asking about preferences in spirits and flavors. Long calls it an Omakase-style experience, borrowing the term from the world of Japanese sushi tasting counters where the chefs take the lead in guiding diners. Long says he and his staff usually tend to gravitate toward classics




YOU HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO PLAY WITH SCOTCH AND MAKE IT APPROACHABLE AND NOT SCARY. and riffs of tried-and-true recipes rather than going for original creation, a technique that’s especially useful when dealing with Scotch. His suggestions for go-to Scotch drinks vary from the citrusy Penicillin with lemon juice and simple syrup to a twist on a stirred drink like an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan. He also recommends a drink called The Short Walk Home made with a dash of honey, a dash of Benedictine liqueur, Scotch, bitters and an orange twist. That’s not to say that Scotch has no place in unique creations. At downtown’s Rare Steakhouse, bar manager Chelsea Wood happened upon the tasty Smoke Signal cocktail after quickly whipping something together for a happy hour regular who asked for something that was both smoky and smooth. The boozy drink features a rinse of Laphroaig whisky, Eagle Rare bourbon, honey and orange bitters. “It’s one of my favorite cocktails that we made for the menu,” Wood says. “You’re not assaulting the palate with a really smoky, peaty Scotch.” Offsetting that bold flavor is key when it comes to acquainting guests with a spirit that many are still dipping their toe into. “The general population that’s coming into restaurants doesn’t really have a palate yet for some of those brown, stronger spirits,” she continues. “You have to find a way to play with [Scotch] and make it approachable and not scary.” Check out the locations below for original takes on Scotch cocktails. Quadrant Bar & Lounge 1150 22nd St. NW, DC; Reliable Tavern 3655 Georgia Ave. NW, DC; Rare Steakhouse 1595 I St. NW, DC;


a r b t i e o l n e C

By Monica Alford


Photo: Trent Johnson

he transition from barman to rum distiller was a no-brainer for Todd Thrasher. Add the opportunity to continue energizing the nightlife at the burgeoning Wharf neighborhood to the mix and you’ve got one extremely confident – and rightfully so – business owner. Thrasher’s Potomac Distilling Company is slated to open this month, a slightly adjusted date based on a few additional construction needs. His distillery’s smokestack is quickly becoming one of the city’s most iconic structures, with the cheeky idiom “Make Rum Not War” painted on one side. As locals impatiently await the distillery’s opening, Thrasher continues to hone the craft of distilling and prep his four rums – his flagship Green Spice Rum, as well as white, gold and spiced – for consumption. After years leading the Eat Good Food Group and its

current spots, the seasoned mixologist says he’s ready to walk away from day-to-day business operations at his NoVa-based ventures. In fact, he won’t be leading business operations at the distillery either. His wife Maria Chicas will, and he says she’s excited about it. Thrasher, on the other hand, says making rum and expanding his rum’s reach both locally and nationally is his sole focus. Thrasher’s three cocktail bars within Potomac Distilling range from Polynesian-style tavern Tiki TNT to a grassy rooftop space including a garden with botanicals used for his Green Spice Rum – and managed by his mom, who apparently has quite the green thumb. He is clearly an option maker, with high hopes of creating yet another reason to visit The Wharf. He wants to pique the interest of locals and tourists alike, offering them access to the distillery, and giving them multiple vibes to choose from for their bar experience.

On Tap: Why is The Wharf the right fit for your distillery? Todd Thrasher: The water and the rum. Really, it came about because [Wharf developer] Monty Hoffman wanted me to do another Bar PX down here, but I wasn’t interested. So, he floated this idea of a distillery – legend has it there was [once] a distillery down here – and I drink rum, so it was a natural fit for me.

we’ll be open till 1:30 a.m., and on Fridays and Saturdays we’ll go until 2 a.m. Me and my business partner have had long discussions about keeping those hours, because that’s a big thing with bars. They say “Yeah, we’ll stay open late,” but when business isn’t happening, they close.

OT: What do you think this neighborhood is bringing to DC? TT: A waterfront. DC has so much waterfront that has been underutilized. I don’t want to park in Georgetown; that waterfront is small, and the dining and options down there are not so interesting. I think The Wharf itself is bringing something that has long been missed: a waterfront opportunity that’s a gathering place. OT: How late will the distillery be open? TT: We’ll be open late, except Sundays. Monday through Thursday



OT: Why just rum? Why not multiple spirits? TT: We may branch out in the future, but there’s a hole in the artisanal rum market right now. OT: Is rum’s popularity shifting in cocktail culture? TT: [Yes], and on the craft level. I think we’ve seen that big influx of whiskey, and God knows there’s enough vodka on the market to choke people. New American gin has been kind of big the past few years, but it’s time for rum now.

WORK MUST-HAVES Music MacBook Pro Coffee maker Non-slip floors or mats Comfortable shoes

CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT My wife Our son Trystan Vacation My bed The ocean (I’m an avid scuba diver)

OT: How long did you spend learning about distilling and experimenting with different rum profiles before setting up shop? TT: In terms of distilling, [I] probably [started] around 2010. I got into home distilling on a very small scale, and most of the stuff went in the garbage. Over the past two or three years, I’ve taken a few classes at Moonshine University and visited many distilleries. OT: Are there any challenges to owning a distillery in an urban area? TT: It’s small in there. I think the distillery itself is just under 1000 square feet, so moving things around is an issue. It’s going to be very tight, so I’m sure storage will be an issue, but hopefully I’ll grow out of the space because of success. OT: What is your wife’s role in the business? TT: Clearly she’s the boss [laughs]. She runs our other restaurants on a day-to-day operations basis, but we’re pulling her out of that role. She’s basically going to be the office manager of the entire operation, and she’ll do private parties and all that stuff. She’ll run the business aspect of the whole entity – the distillery and the bar. OT: How do you feel about Potomac Distilling being in the spotlight? Everyone who crosses the bridge has a prime view of your smokestack. TT: It’s unbelievable. It’s great. I mean, I joked with a friend of mine about how it’s going to be as big as the National Monument. Everyone who crosses the bridge is going to see that smokestack, and hopefully it’s intriguing to them. It’s reminiscent of the older days when there were billboards. OT: Who is your ideal customer? TT: Everybody. I want everyone who’s going to the Fish Market to have a cocktail. I want everyone who’s going to Arena Stage to have a cocktail and a bite to eat. The great thing about DC is it’s a great melting pot of people, and every four years, you get an influx of new people too. I’m equal opportunity. For more information on Thrasher’s Potomac Distilling Company, visit Potomac Distilling Company: 1130 Maine Ave. SW, DC; 202-900-4786 | NOVEMBER 2018 | ON TAP


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? C D in IC S U M e th d in h e B Who’s

By Courtney Sexton

DC’s music scene is an organism in flux. This is not so surprising, with several new venues recently opening – and several closing – and despite the city’s increasing population, it remains a relatively transient town. Still, DMV artists are finding more ways to build community and establish legitimacy on local and national levels, but not without hard work from some individuals behind the music who truly believe in the strength of the District’s musical past and the potential for its future. We caught up with a few of the movers and shakers making an impact on DC music.

Photo: Courtesy of Jamal Gray

JAMAL GRAY DC native Jamal Gray is a musician-curator-organizer who founded the Uptown Art House – a creative incubator and activism-focused artists’ space “without borders” – and leads the avant-garde jazz troupe Nag Champa Art Ensemble. His projects often bridge the underground and the conventional in an effort to elevate the whole of DC’s music scene. On Tap: How did you first come to be involved with music culture in DC? Jamal Gray: My personal connection with music is through my parents. They met working at WPFW 89.3FM, which is a local radio station in DC that focuses on jazz and public affairs. Both of my parents are from DC. My dad was a record producer and [eventually] started his own label. I’ve been around music my whole life. OT: What major changes have you seen in the local music scene in the past 10 years? JG: Once things moved more toward [the] Internet, people were moving less toward trying to cultivate a scene and more toward trying to cultivate a persona. That’s where I think we are in music in general, and DC’s just a microcosm of that. A lot of people are spending a lot of energy to cultivate their persona.

OT: With your own music, the collaborations you work on and the performers you support, it seems you’re trying to counterbalance that and keep the “real” in the music. Is this your goal? JG: If I’m going to support an artist, I want to know what they’re going to add to the conversation. It’s got to be a dialogue, not a diatribe. You should create from yourself, but not only for yourself. You have to be able to jump inside people’s worlds, especially if you want to make an impact. That’s part of what I’m trying to do – push things forward. Art is always a vehicle for progress or change, because it’s usually the artists that will take that risk before other people. That’s what I’m about.

OT: What do you think DC music needs to push forward? JG: There’s a real conversation that has to happen between the artists themselves so we are held to a certain standard, and between the venues and artists so everyone can feel appreciated. A lot of people who want to leave [DC] say there’s no industry here [and] no infrastructure for musicians. I want our community to be globally minded but locally based. People passing through need to know you can come and see good music happening. We need documentation for it – platforms that are invested in the future of it. I’m an advocate, but I’m an artist too. The best thing I can do is continue to push forward good content and experiences, and help build spaces to incubate toward the next level. OT: What projects are you most excited about right now? JG: We are working on a new Nag Champa record. I’m also really excited about my radio show on Full Service Radio called “Late Bloom” that airs live every Wednesday from 7-8:30 p.m. We feature a mix of new and obscure music, and interviews with locally based artists working to make global impact. The Uptown Art House project is continuing, but as a creative agency for artists, musicians, curators and activists.

Listen to Gray weekly on Full Service Radio at www.thelinehotel. com/full-service-radio and check out Nag Champa and Uptown Art House on Facebook: @nagchampadc and @uptownarthouse. | NOVEMBER 2018 | ON TAP


Not only did Peter Lillis help establish Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House’s success as an intimate venue in Adams Morgan focused on local musicians, he’s part of the team behind independent record label Babe City Records, a member of DC-based band Den-Mate, and the marketing manager for Union Stage. On Tap: You have been involved in many facets of the DC music scene for several years and taken on new roles as the energy has shifted. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Peter Lillis: In the past five years and perhaps longer, DC was the center of the DIY music and house show scene and really focused on doing shows in nontraditional venues. I got involved around that time, around 2014 or so. I began throwing shows at similar places. I was inspired by the idea of active participation. I got disillusioned by the idea of covering music and wanted to be in bands and put on shows. It took me a few years of doing that to realize I wanted more, and the DIY community was a great opportunity to dive into that. I was inspired by everybody’s personal and communal interest [in] bettering themselves and the scene. There was an exciting movement happening. OT: Do you think the DIY era is over? PL: There’s still a good amount of it, but DC is not getting more affordable. The spaces that were central to that experience are gone now – torn down or renovated and sold. But for me and my colleagues at the other collectives, everyone seems to have upped their game. DC has done a better job of investing in nightlife and entertainment options for people. There’s a lot of money and young people and new options for performers. The Wharf where I am now with Union Stage is a great space for people to play. Songbyrd does great work engaging locals. [Dangerously Delicious Pies] is open on H Street. The house show arc was necessary to get us here. We all got the practice we needed to develop empathy for promoters and bookers. The DIY concept doesn’t need to be confined to people’s homes; it’s not mutually exclusive from commercial venues. The fact that they are going away just means we’ve built something that people want, which is encouraging.



OT: What do you think is unique about DC as a local musician? PL: It’s a somewhat small city but [a] very big media market, so it’s somewhat easy to navigate compared to some of the more entertainment industry cities where there’s a ton of noise. You can meet people and there’s a scrappy attitude, but being the city it is, we get more eyeballs and cred than a city of a similar size in a different location. [It’s] advantageous for local artists to live in our area and be able to play in Baltimore, Philly, NYC, Richmond – you can play any of those places and still be home in your bed at the end of the night. People need to get out of town and start evangelizing the community here, and that’s the only way we’ll become effective on the national, international level.

Join the DC Music Industry group on Facebook to get involved in Lillis’s community efforts. Learn more about Union Stage at and Babe City Records artists, including Den-Mate, at


Photo: Alicia Raft

Photo: Sam Segal


OT: You organize industry panels and meetups. What is the purpose of those? PL: When we opened Union Stage, [owners] the Brindley brothers had a very welcoming attitude, which is kind of rare. We concocted this effort to directly engage the music community and see what it would bring. The central idea is to give people a platform to meet and talk and see how everybody works together. The music industry is very connections-based. That can make it difficult for people who don’t have the knowledge or resources to be involved but want to be and are talented and motivated. The meetups and platforms we’ve organized have that in mind. It’s been successful so far, [but] there’s a lot of work left to be done. The city could support local arts in a more effective way. The only way we can communicate that to decision-makers is through collective action, so this is a small effort at doing that. We give people the initial tools and contacts to grow their business while keeping it concerted and learning from the community itself, and we can get feedback and learn how to run our business better.

Sasha Lord has promoted, partnered and worked with numerous groups in the DMV. She has also managed tours for several artists, booking shows abroad and traveling with the musicians. Now based in Brooklyn, Lord is currently GM of the Market Hotel (Brooklyn)

Taking care of artists and being mindful of their needs is crucial. and Trans-Pecos (Queens) while remaining the primary booker at Connecticut Avenue-based music venue Comet Ping Pong. On Tap: How did you get into the business of artist promotion? Sasha Lord: I have a background in community outreach and working with at-risk populations. I worked for an outdoor leadership school and I’ve always been community-oriented. In college, I worked at Black Cat and then got the opportunity to [work] at Comet Ping Pong. I also have a background working with people with disabilities, and that’s why I tried to make Comet as accessible as possible. I’ve combined my professional background and community work with my love of music to make a diverse, accessible venue for all ages. OT: What did you see at Comet, in terms of artists and audiences? SL: Comet is beautiful because it’s very much a community. We have a variety of promoters so we have a broad range of types, ages, genres and diversity in music – and that makes it a unique space. My shows will sometimes have an older demographic [while] other promoters have a younger [demographic]. It’s very well-rounded and communityoriented. OT: What should venue operators and promoters do to elevate DC as city where musicians want to come but also pay attention to the artists who are already here? SL: Taking care of artists and being mindful of their needs is crucial. Over the past 10 years booking [at] Comet, I was able to go to festivals [and] tour with people. I curated a showcase at South by Southwest, helped with two events [at] Art Basel and [participated in] art fairs. I toured so I could be a better promoter. It made me realize that Comet is a really good venue, and we’re really good to artists. It made me understand what touring artists go through when they arrive. Maybe they’re exhausted, maybe they spent their last $20 on the Baltimore [Harbor] Tunnel, maybe they’re hungry [and] slept on someone’s floor. I didn’t think about those things until going on tour. I realized how hard it is. So when bands show up, be mindful. I feel for the most part, most of the venues in DC do a good job at that.

Read about Lord and her projects at and learn more about Comet Ping Pong’s winter lineup at

Photos: Beauty by Photography

OT: Now that you are based in New York, how will you stay involved in DC music? SL: I have shows booked at Comet through April and plan to continue to book there. A lot of bands reach out to me now wanting to be booked in both NYC and DC, and it’s awesome that I’m able to do that. I recently booked [80s indie band Beat Happening’s] Calvin Johnson in DC and New York, and have some other things in the works for the next year. I’m cultivating and curating in both cities, so bands will know that they’ll get a good experience at [multiple shows]. I’m not leaving DC. I’m hoping to contribute even more by bridging the cities together. The Avenir Pumpkin Festival showcased the shops at Modera Avenir Place, live music, a beer garden to raise money for the Alexandria Aces, pumpkin decorating, trick-or-treating and more. | NOVEMBER 2018 | ON TAP


Photo: Mark Gorman

By Michael Loria


Elijah Jamal Balbed and the JoGo Project

hirteen years ago, drummer John Heinze played U Street mainstay Velvet Lounge while on tour, and some gravity comes into his voice as he depicts the scene that evening. “It was a Thursday night and there was no one out on the streets,” he says. “It was a ghost town. And it wasn’t a holiday, it was the dead of summer. There was nothing going on.” That DC isn’t the one he knows today. After talking to Heinze, now part of funk-with-soul band Aztec Sun, and other local artists, I pieced together that our jazz community is so small that nearly everyone seems to know one another but big enough that you can find shows all over town – if you know which doors to look behind. The DC jazz scene is undergoing a revitalization spurred by younger musicians committed to keeping the vibrant genre alive. Though the music may seem old-fashioned on first mention, artists like Heinze are


finetuning the jazz experience to engage newer generations. Heinze moved here from Chicago five years ago and quickly became involved in the jazz scene through “musician connecting organization” Flashband and by seeking out open jams. He serves as my introduction to this world, telling me where I should go and on what night – and who I might look to talk to. When he rattles off suggestions, I struggle to keep up: Gypsy Sally’s, Villain & Saint, Service Bar, Marvin, Sotto, Brixton, Bin 1301…the list goes on. He also mentions neighborhood spot Maddy’s Bar & Grille on Connecticut Avenue, where local sax player Elijah Jamal Balbed hosts weekly sessions. Balbed has been on the DC jazz and go-go scene since 2005, when he started playing clubs like Twins Jazz at age 15. Four years ago, he started “genre-bending ensemble” the JoGo Project, inspired by his time performing with Chuck Brown. He tells me the jazz scene is extremely close-knit, and I see what he means. There are faces I recognize at shows from other jams around town. When Balbed’s not hosting sessions at Maddy’s, you can catch him as one of the featured artists at Brixton’s Sunday

“Venues will come and go, but as long as the musicians are around, they’ll keep the scene alive.”


night jams and at Pearl Street Warehouse for his Southwest Soul Sessions cohosted with drummer Isabelle De Leon. Spots on Balbed’s short list of favorite spots include Hamilton Live and Blues Alley, but smaller bars and clubs aren’t the only venues promoting DC jazz. The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage series offers free shows of outstanding quality, and community stalwart the Anacostia Arts Center (AAC) hosts the Second Sundays Jazz series. Kadija Bangura, the AAC’s marketing manager, says that curator and noted jazz musician Vernard Gray is spearheading the initiative, which includes featuring artists who often fly under the radar. “We’re looking forward to being introduced to jazz talent that doesn’t receive the same attention from major clubs in the city,” Bangura says. Because some of our beloved jazz venues have recently closed their doors, the AAC’s continued support is imperative for people in Anacostia and from around the city. The center has created a space for fans to watch younger musicians’ first chance to be in the spotlight, an undeniable asset to the genre and the District as a whole. “We typically pull fans of jazz music from the community,” Bangura continues. “We provide jazz even as other venues close.” Balbed and I talked about some of those notable low points – the shuttering of Bohemian Caverns chief among them. The U Street Corridor institution hosted a score of names since its founding in 1926; in fact, the space has remained empty, and you can even see its sad piano roll marquee still on the building. But the saxophonist doesn’t seem too discouraged. He believes the musicians will keep the jazz scene going regardless of any obstacles. “There have been some down points,” Balbed says. “But even with the venues closing down, the energy of the musicians never dies. Venues will come and go, but as long as the musicians are around, they’ll keep the scene alive.” Learn more about the JoGo Project at, Aztec Sun at and Anacostia Arts Center’s upcoming jazz performances at

Check out these DC area venues for live jazz. Bin 1301: 1301 U St. NW, DC;

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By M.K. Koszycki

In honor of our local music issue, we present DC musicians, both well-established and on the rise, who make the city’s music scene stand out. To check out these tastemakers for yourself, listen to our 30 Days of DC Music playlist on Spotify – you might even find your new favorite artist.


This genre-bending DC duo recently opened for Swedish electropop icons Little Dragon during their sold-out, two-night run at H Street’s Rock & Roll Hotel last month, and stole the show with their live versions of recent releases and a cover of Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song.” They’ll continue to captivate stages while supporting like-minded acts Kllo and The JujuExchange, but be sure to listen to their spectacular EP You Are Here in the meantime. Visit for more.



Bad Moves are doing big things. Four DC natives with very DC day jobs joined forces to lend their incredible talent to make one of 2018’s most exciting records. Their music is cheerful, their subject matter relatable and their lyrics are seemingly handcrafted to make a live karaoke session at their shows a reality – Tell No One is practically perfect. They recently celebrated the release of the album at Black Cat in September, and I’m already eagerly awaiting new music from them while keeping this album on heavy rotation. Follow them on Twitter @BadMovesDC for more.



This DC band’s M.O. is surf rock with a soul, and an ever so slight nod to punk predecessors who occupied hallowed DC venues before them. While their lyrics deal with deeply personal matters – addictions, anxieties and general malaise – it’s clearly an outlet with which they heal and offer joy to others. Their boisterous guitars and penchant for peppering in “la la las” at the perfect moment will have you singing along in no time. No stranger to the myriad of venues on the local music circuit, they’ll be at DC9 on November 14. Visit for more. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW;





Babe City Records-signed BRNDA make jarring, frenetic indie rock akin to Black Lips and Thee Oh Sees. Their short but impactful Thanks for Playing EP clocks in at 18 minutes but stays with you for much longer. The best part of BRNDA? Every member of the quartet contributes to vocals, evoking a fun call-and-response vibe that will have you singing along too. See them live at The Dougout on November 5. $5-$10 suggested donation for entry. Visit for more. The Dougout: 1498 Douglas St. NE, DC;



While the musician, also known as Joshua Karpeh, may be a New Yorker now, his stint in the District as a George Washington University student gives him the right to say he’s part of the DC scene. Following a critically acclaimed EP, he sold out a show this past May and stood out as one of the highlights of this year’s All Things Go Fall Classic. The performance included Karpeh singing, and playing the saxophone and flute onstage. Unfortunately, you must wait until early next year to see him live in DC – he’ll take the U Street Music Hall stage on February 1 – but it will be worth the wait. Visit for more. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC;



“Hey you want to check it out/ this experimental music they’re talking about?” Ian “Chain” Svenonious asks his listeners in the titular track of Experimental Music, the band’s late 2017 release for DC’s Dischord Records. If your answer to that question is yes, Svenonious and company are ready to take you on a journey. With influences from 50s-style surf rock to DC punk, and many genres in between, the track is both on the nose and a statement of the band’s ethos from their many years of making music. While Svenonious has been hard at work with one of his many other projects – Escape-ism – Chain & the Gang remain one of the most exciting and unexpected bands to grace the streets of DC. Visit for more.


This project takes its name from the old school gaming console and borrows nostalgic sounds to make something totally new, courtesy of Davon Bryant. The DC native is a singer, songwriter, producer and drummer who makes extremely groovy tunes with retro sensibilities, but modern production flair. This fall, he released the spectacular jams “Outer Space” and “Up 2 U.” Visit for more.


SHAED’S CHELSEA LEE Photo: Nicole Mago


SHAED is comprised of Chelsea Lee and twin brothers Max and Spencer Ernst. A favorite of the DC pop scene and beyond, their emotive electropop is perhaps best exemplified by their EP Melt, which came out this past September. We caught up with vocalist Chelsea Lee on what the band’s been up to lately.



DC post punk fans rejoice. One of the most exciting bands in the genre right now is one of our own. Their June release for Domino Records, Constant Image, is heavily featured on my “Best of 2018” list. Flasher recently shared the stage with the iconic Breeders and will return to their hometown on November 30 at Black Cat. Follow the band on Twitter @ffflasher. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;



Electropop outfit Foreign Air remains one of the hardest working duos in DC music. The smooth and spacious sounds of their 2016 EP For the Light catapulted them into the national music conversation. Their sounds have been featured in TV shows and commercials and for good reason – their brand of emotion and electronics is the stuff of a music supervisor’s dreams. To the excitement of many fans (myself included), their single “Turning” was released last month and will be included on Foreign Air’s first full-length album, to be released soon. Visit for more.



An amalgamation of members from Priests, Downtown Boys and various other DC musicians, this rotating cast of musicians is anchored by Jason Barnett, Mary Jane Regalado and Daniele Yandel. Their playful beach goth, a.k.a. surf rock with emotional lyrics, infused brand of rock provides the perfect platform for a rotating cast to meditate on ending relationships, independence and navigating existence in the online world. See them live on December 4 at Black Cat. Visit for more. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;


On Tap: I know that you all met at a 9:30 Club show. Can you tell me a bit more about your origin story? Chelsea Lee: I was a solo artist and a friend suggested I go see this band, raving about these twin boys who were opening. It was Max and Spencer on stage playing an acoustic set. I was 15 and instantly fell in love. We started hanging out regularly after and became best friends. We couldn’t fully commit to a project together until SHAED. OT: You’ve played a lot of DC venues – 9:30 Club, Union Stage, Rock & Roll Hotel – do you have a favorite? A place on your wish list? CL: We’ve toured a lot, and 9:30 Club remains one of our favorite venues in the country. We would love to play The Anthem. OT: How has the DC music scene supported you as you’ve progressed in your career? CL: DC has been incredibly kind to us. We just played a sold out show and recognized so many people that have been coming to see us since the beginning. Fortunately, the scene here is growing and some great music is coming out of the DMV. OT: You recently released an EP. Any plans to release a full album soon? CL: Right now we’re focusing on writing. For now we just want to keep creating music and see what happens. OT: Anyone from the DC music scene you’d really like to work with? CL: April + VISTA and GoldLink. OT: Do you have any upcoming shows in the area? CL: We’re playing the 9:30 Club with St. Lucia on November 6. SHAED opens for St. Lucia at the 9:30 Club on Tuesday, November 6. Tickets are $32.50. Doors at 7 p.m. Visit for more. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; | NOVEMBER 2018 | ON TAP





The duo comprised of Lindsay Pitts and Clifford John Usher dropped their first release for the District’s own Carpark Records in 2015. Kill the One You Love is equal parts sad and smooth – everything you could ever want from a synth-pop album. The band kept fairly quiet for three years after but to the delight of all of us who love dancing and crying in equal measure, returned this year with several beautiful singles. They’ve also reimagined and re-recorded John Lennon’s iconic album Imagine in full. I can only hope this is an indication of another melancholy gem (ha) of an album on the horizon. Visit for more.



The brainchild of George Washington University graduates Liz Nistico and Louie Diller burst onto the pop scene in 2014 with “Happy with Me,” a song examining the daunting task of living up to impossible beauty standards with a crazy danceable beat. Since then, the self-described brat pop band set up shop in Los Angeles, California, and worked with artists like Kate Nash and Tkay Maidza. They returned as powerful as ever with three new singles this fall. Visit for more.



I like to think I’m on top of most recent releases, but my little brother is always one step ahead of me – a healthy sibling rivalry of who knows the best new artists frequently ensues. He sent along several tracks by this Maryland born, DC based rapper – 2018’s “Amazing” and “Bag” – and I’ve been hooked ever since. He raps over neo soul beats with honesty and precision, and featured his once DC residence on Quebec Place on the cover of his EP of the same name. He released his fantastic album Keep it Clean this September, complete with features from Pusha T, Taliwhoah and more. Follow him on Twitter @innanetjames for more.




JENNA CAMILLE Maryland-born, DC-educated Jenna Camille has natural talent and classical training in spades. Her gorgeously smoky voice finds itself combined with jazzy electronic production on her infectious tracks. In addition to writing, recording and producing her own music, she is a frequent collaborator of other acts such as BELVE, Poor boY EXP and Seven Jackson. Follow her on Twitter @JennaCamille for more.



I’ve had the joy of seeing this project, helmed by Julia Leiby, open for several bands throughout the city. Bringing together a rotating cast of likeminded musical friends, Julian makes understated but powerful indie pop worthy of soundtracking a dreamy movie montage. Their latest release, Real Distance, saw them polish their sound, and is their strongest and most affecting work to date. Visit for more.



This indie pop group comprised of five college friends makes ethereal anthems for anyone who loves glossy, dreamy tunes with a side of emotional honesty. They cite contemporaries The 1975 and The Naked and Famous as influences, and are a necessary addition to any playlist built for introspection or relaxation. Don’t be fooled by their chill vibes, though – the instrumentation is powerful and refined as well. Visit for more.



This pair of DC natives is set to release their album Me: Dystopia early next year. They’ll bring their vivacious marriage of darkwave (think dark and romantic), timely lyrics and worldly sounds to Union Stage on November 10 and Dupont Underground on November 16. Listen to the lead single “Company Girl” now. Follow them on Instagram @yo_soy_loiloi for more. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; // Dupont Underground: 19 Dupont Cir. NW, DC;


Evoking the dark and powerful feelings of genre greats PJ Harvey and Nick Cave, Luna Honey makes music that can only be described as cathartic and beautiful. While Maura Pond’s vocals stand out on every track, what anchors Luna Honey is the marriage of bare basslines and baritone sax: unsettling and comforting all at once. Don’t miss them take the stage on November 11 at DC9. Visit for more. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC;



Have you ever discovered a band that makes you excited for the future? Both the future of that band and music as a whole? I couldn’t shake that warm, fuzzy feeling the first time I listened to Makeup Girl’s Living Safe EP, released this past summer. While their sound is reminiscent of early Two Door Cinema Club and Humbug era Arctic Monkeys, it’s clear this band is in a league of their own. Catch them at Arlington’s Galaxy Hut on November 11 and keep your eyes on them in general – this four piece group is going places. Visit for more. Galaxy Hut: 2711 Wilson Blvd. Arlington VA;



This band is nothing if not a supergroup. Comprised of two former Fugazi members and several other heavy hitters in the DC hardcore scene, the group harkens back to the heyday of DC punk and reminds us it’s not going anywhere. Their self-titled album was released on the beloved Dischord Records, and is a must for DC music lovers and anyone else who appreciates an excellent rock record. They’ll play Baltimore’s Rams Head Live on December 27. Visit for more. Rams Head Live: 20 Market Pl. Baltimore, MD;



I recommend Nick Hakim’s 2017 release Green Twins to just about anyone who will listen. What I won’t recommend, however, is putting Hakim’s music in a box. His retro-futurist vibe and hypnotic vocals are just the beginning of what makes his music stand out. Citing a whole host of “one of these things is not like the other” influences, Hakim’s music is perfect for a dreamy, cold winter’s day and something you have to synthesize for yourself. He dropped the single “Vincent Tyler” this summer, and I can’t wait to see what’s on the horizon for Hakim. Visit for more.


WYDLER’S WILL MCCARRY Photo: Mark Story Photos


Wylder’s dreamy blend of folk pop is heavily influenced by the natural surroundings of their native Virginia. As they gear up for their much-anticipated sophomore album, singer and guitarist Will McCarry told On Tap all about influences, favorite venues and upcoming music.


On Tap: With roots in DC and Virginia, how have both influenced your music? Will McCarry: Rural Virginia had a huge influence on my musical taste and the kind of songs I want to write. The organic and naturalistic elements of our sound comes from my upbringing. OT: Do you have a favorite local venue? Any that you haven’t played on your wish list? WM: DC is home to amazing venues. In February we headlined U Street Music Hall for a show presented by the 9:30 Club. Performing in front of fans that braved a snowstorm to be there made it one we’ll never forget. Recently we had the chance to perform on stage at The Anthem, the venue is unlike any space we’ve performed in before. OT: How have the music scenes in DC and Virginia supported you? WM: [We] began in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The early days playing on campus helped us discover our path. As we began performing in DC more often, venues like Black Cat and Jammin Java gave us a chance to headline. OT: What can listeners expect from your sophomore album? WM: I think this new record represents the next logical step for Wylder and features the most fully realized version of what I’ve always wanted this band to be. It is at once a major departure from Rain and Laura and an expansion on all the things fans enjoy about that record. Our first single from the record, “Ready to Break,” will be out on November 16. OT: Anyone from the DC music scene you’d really like to work with? WM: We’d love to put together a show featuring a full orchestral section performing the songs alongside us. OT: Any upcoming shows in the area? WM: You can catch us performing live in DC at Gypsy Sally’s on November 30 alongside The Last Bison or in Tysons Corner on December 1 for an acoustic set at Records and Rarities. Catch Wylder at Gypsy Sally’s on Friday, November 30. Tickets start at $15. Visit for more. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; | NOVEMBER 2018 | ON TAP





I was lucky enough to catch OG Lullabies, the project of singer and violinist Taylor Brooke, earlier this year right around the release of her EP CRUESCONTROL. The otherworldly nature of her music evokes peace and an existence on a different earthly plane at times. With an emphasis on the all-encompassing experience music creates in a listener, Brooke’s beautiful sounds create a welcome respite from your everyday woes in sonic form. Visit for more.



I have no idea what this DC duo’s name is in reference to, but I love it. I also love their bass-heavy, neo soul and refreshingly honest songwriting. To date they only have one single and a three song EP available, but I have full confidence the duo of Cynthia Johnson and Anthony Valenti will bless us with more repeat worthy tracks soon. Visit for more.



“I am an alien, I am a ghost, I am the devil, I am alone,” sings vocalist Nenet on the band’s track “Alien,” a meditation on identity. Self-described as “degeneration rock,” this group’s music could easily soundtrack a noir film (or more realistically, a long DC drive on a foggy day). Be sure to add their latest release, Silk, to any winter playlists you may be curating. Visit for more.





DC’s most prolific punks of today released their album Nothing Feels Natural last year and have focused heavily on the District’s creative circuit and national tours. They run Sister Polygon Records and lend their talents to other DC bands, all while providing an unwavering political voice that’s needed now more than ever. They’ll take the stage at Baltimore’s Metro Gallery on December 11. It’s worth the trek to Charm City to see these icons in action. Visit for more. Metro Gallery: 1700 N. Charles St. Baltimore, MD;



Everyone loves Rico Nasty but only the DMV gets to call her our own. She’s one of the hardest working artists in any genre. At 21, she’s already released six mixtapes, including her first release as an Atlantic Records signee, Nasty. She calls her catchy, sweet blend of rap “sugar trap,” and while she’s certainly come a long way from her first hit “iCarly” to her newer releases soundtracking shows like Insecure, she’s bound to be a fixture on the national rap scene for a long time. Visit for more.



This experimental electronic duo will have you dancing as much as contemplating a variety of timely topics. They blend 80s synth sensibilities dating back to The Cure or Talking Heads with theatrical and impassioned vocals. Their 2018 full length release There is No Stronger Sex is a smart breath of fresh air and the answer to everyone’s contemplative but groovy needs. Visit for more.



This band provides an unlikely combination of pop and punk, but not in the way bands you loved in middle school did. Instead, it’s more like jagged, heavy instrumentation layered with catchy choruses sung sweetly. By combining the best elements of these two genres, the trio provides some of the most exciting tunes to come out of the city this year with their self titled debut. Visit for more.


Photos: Lauren Melanie Brown

By M.K. Koszycki


en-Mate began roughly five years ago as a literal bedroom pop project. Frontwoman Jules Hale’s music might not be in the bedroom pop genre, but she did use music to express herself by self-releasing early recordings via sites like Tumblr and SoundCloud while



hanging out at home. Through the power of the World Wide Web, she caught the attention of DC’s homegrown Babe City Records and the Virginia native struck up a fierce friendship with the people behind the label before meeting any of them in person.

Two-thirds of Den-Mate’s current lineup – Jon Weiss, Peter Lillis and the singer/songwriter herself – now run the independent record label, with Jonah Welt and Rick Irby rounding out the five-person band. The electro-meets-dream-pop band has been a stronghold in the DC scene for several years now, playing a host of the best venues, opening for national acts and headlining cathartic, transformative shows. This year marked a new chapter for Hale, one she says was several years in the making. Babe City released Den-Mate’s first album, Loceke, an evocative and lush record that’s as personal as it is relatable. And since the 24-year-old artist now has a hand in running the label, she has nothing but forward momentum as an indelible force in the DC creative scene. “As the process of Loceke happened, which took about four years to complete, I became best friends with the scene,” she explains to On Tap over a cup of La Colombe coffee in Blagden Alley. “I was just thinking, ‘I have to be a part of this. I love this.’ They welcomed me with open arms.” DC has been Hale’s safe haven to express herself through music for awhile, but the release of Loceke found her sharing herself and collaborating with others at a greater intensity. “At first when I expressed the process, there were parts of me that felt hesitant,” she tells us earnestly of sharing her music and by proxy, her personal experiences with others. “But if I don’t say it, then I’m not being honest about where my music is coming from. If I’m sacrificing myself and saying personal things, maybe it will inspire someone who’s not doing so well. They can be like, ‘Hey, this person went through this shit, they didn’t think they were going to get out, but they did.’ I hope that me doing that is going to eventually possibly help someone else.” Hale’s passion for music as a whole is evident as our conversation continues. “Music is super mystical – the way it’s able to control people, change people’s perceptions, change how you feel with no actual action. It’s magic.” She’s one of those artists who makes music because music has had a profound effect on her life, a kind of intensity that lays the framework for everything she does – her music, discovering other local bands through Babe City and even her live performances. “Performing is my favorite thing, aside from creating. I want to play the most energetic songs. I want to play the most dancy songs. I want to play songs that are chill but that I can translate into being energetic.” One of Den-Mate’s biggest strengths is the band’s ability to take what’s on record to an otherworldly and raucous live performance.

“There are a few different dimensions of Den-Mate and I think that if people like the music, they should go to the show because you’re going to get a whole other sense of it. Sometimes people listen to a song and think, ‘Oh this is super chill! I’m going to put this on my bedtime playlist.’ And then they get to the show and they’re like, ‘Holy shit, who is this person?’” Every aspect of Den-Mate is a well-thought-out form of creative expression. Imagery and visuals play an important part too, as Hale tells us her sights are set on eventually creating a visual album to further explore those outlets. But for now, Hale and her bandmates are gearing up for a tour to support Loceke this month. Hale says she’s lucky to be surrounded by and contributing to the strength of the creative world in the District, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I feel like sometimes the odds are stacked against us in DC, but we’re able to use that to our advantage. People don’t think a lot of things are happening here, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. DC is flourishing with artistic creatives and I think that’s what sets us apart. In DC, people think of the city as being political or monotone, but some of my favorite artists are right here. I think that’s our secret weapon. It’s so hidden.” What’s not hidden, though, is that Hale’s future is filled with opportunity to shine light on her talent and those of her peers in the District. The release of Loceke and tour dates across the country will surely bring with it more fans and growth beyond what Hale has already accomplished. No matter where that talent takes her, DC will continue to welcome the artist back home with open arms just as before. Den-Mate will embark on a tour beginning with a stop at Baltimore’s Metro Gallery on Wednesday, November 7. Doors are at 9 p.m. and tickets are $10. Check the band’s social media for updates on local shows. For more on Jules Hale and Den-Mate, follow @imdenmate on Instagram and Twitter. For more on Babe City Records, visit Metro Gallery: 1700 N. Charles St. Baltimore, MD 410-244-0899;






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Photo: Cara Robbins

By M.K. Koszycki

he early aughts of music discovery via blogs were exciting and electric. As a budding music enthusiast in my early teens, I held a sacred daily routine: arrive home from school, snack on whatever the junk food du jour in my childhood home was and pull up a pantheon of blogs to deep-dive into the world of music that wasn’t accessible to suburban radio. One of my first discoveries via the blogosphere was Wild Nothing’s massive, sparkling and mechanical-sounding track “Chinatown.” It lived on heavy rotation on my iPod classic, a favorite to soundtrack my rides home on the school bus. The haziness calmed the nerves that public school left frayed and the chorus of “We’re not happy ‘til we’re running away” spoke to the feeling that something out there was better than what I had – an inescapable permanence of teenage years. Jack Tatum, the Virginia native and mastermind behind Wild Nothing’s consistently electrifying blend of 80s synth-pop and yes, chillwave, began in the dorms of Virginia Tech when his music was picked up and circulated around the burgeoning blogosphere. “It was a very natural, grassroots form of getting your music around, and I took it for granted,” he says of his beginnings. “I didn’t really realize how nice it was at the time. It’s the whole reason why I’m still making music.”



Nearly 10 years out from his initial debut and five albums into his career, Tatum is exploring his affection for 80s pop à la Tears for Fears and Roxy Music on Indigo, released this past summer. “I wanted it to sound like a pop record,” he says of his latest album. “By referencing more pop-leaning 80s groups and records, [I started] digging into more taboo production techniques from that era that I really love.



I can’t really make the argument for them not sounding dated, but I never thought of that being a negative thing. To me, it’s just another palette to work with – another collection of sounds I can use for my own music.” Wild Nothing will hit the road in support of Indigo this month, after a tour hiatus between records. And while Tatum is excited to share it live, he says it’s never been his style to “beat people over the head with the new record.” He’s currently going through all of Wild Nothing’s material to relearn the older tracks and teach his bandmates, a process he describes as cathartic. “It creates a bigger story for the band and fans of the music. I always try to have a good mix of songs, old and new. It’s very important to me to honor the whole story of the band. It’s a blessing and a curse to have more material to pull from. It makes it so much more fun because you can curate it super heavily, but it becomes impossible to figure out what you want to play and how to please everyone.” While Indigo allowed him the opportunity to expand the sounds Wild Nothing has encompassed over the years, Tatum also experienced a host of new audiences discovering his music through “Chinatown” in Netflix rom-com To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. An early scene of the movie sees teenage protagonist Lara Jean in a schoolyard montage soundtracked by the Wild Nothing single. A testament to its permanence and Tatum’s ability to capture fleeting feeling in a threeminute song, the track saw an uptick in popularity with fans new and old. “It’s been amazing and palpable,” he says of the experience. “I can see that people are listening to this song a lot because of this movie. It’s a good reminder that [this] kind of stuff can make a difference. It’s cool that it resonates in a way with people who are much younger than me.” At the time this was published, “Chinatown” had over 9 million streams on Spotify. I can only hope the next generation discovering Tatum’s music for the first time experience the same electric joy I did upon first listen. And with the release of Indigo, Wild Nothing is sure to resonate with listeners for many years to come. Wild Nothing plays 9:30 Club on Sunday, November 18 with Men I Trust. Tickets are $25 and doors open at 7 p.m. Follow @wildnothing on Instagram and Twitter and learn more about Tatum at 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; 202-265-0930;



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OT: In addition to your own work as Toro y Moi, you’ve been producing work for artists like Astronauts, etc. and Tanukichan. How does approaching these projects differ from your own solo work? CB: When working with new artists, the first thing that I’m drawn to is a person and their actual character. If their music is good on top of that, they become a friend who makes dope music and it’s like, “Oh man, we should make more music together,” and we just go from there. The motivation behind making music with friends comes from the idea of building something together within our community. Everyone on Company Records is based in the Bay Area. It’s a label that’s sort of eclectic in the sense of [having] a lot of different genres. It’s also still very honed in with a community vibe.

Photo: Ray Polanco

By M.K. Koszycki

Chaz Bear

has written, recorded and released music under a host of names over the years, but is perhaps best known for his work as Toro y Moi. One of the most successful names to come out of the chillwave movement in the early 2010s, the Berkeley, California-based musician has done much more than simply be part of the larger scene. The release of his most recent effort as Toro y Moi, Boo Boo, saw a more introspective and stripped-down era for Bear. He’s lent his production talents to some of this year’s most exciting up-andcoming artists like Tanukichan (who’s signed to Bear’s label Company Records, an imprint of DC’s own Carpark Records) and Astronauts, etc. We caught up with the artist ahead of his 9:30 Club show on November 12 to chat chillwave, community and what’s next for one of the hardest working names in music. On Tap: Your album Boo Boo sounded like a slight departure from the more electronicinfluenced sounds of your previous efforts. What were some of the themes surrounding this record? Chaz Bear: This record was written in 2016, a time when I was going through a change, and that’s what the record is about. It’s not really about a relationship with another person. It sounds like that, but it’s more of a relationship with society and about how to navigate the world in hectic times.



OT: You came onto the scene during the chillwave zeitgeist in the early 2010s. Were you ever worried about being associated with one of the first trendy blog rock genres? Do you care how people classify your music? CB: It was never intimidating to be part of the genre. I always felt like it was helpful and useful to be connected to a scene. I’ve always used it to my advantage. It’s definitely easy to want to play into it and satisfy the listeners you have, but my goal with Toro y Moi is to explore as much as possible. I want to grow and explore different types, styles and sonic palettes, whether they be lo-fi sounding or shiny and hi-fi. I think that’s the whole challenge for most, if not all, listeners: to take down those sonic barriers and enjoy music from everywhere – all genres, all qualities. OT: Your background is in graphic design. Has your work in that field influenced your music at all? CB: Graphic design initiated the conversation in my head about taste and style – what I think I want to present and how I want to present myself. That carried on to music as well. Before I got into graphic design, my music was more of the times: emo and post-punk stuff. I never really referenced music from the past until I got into graphic design. It taught me how to achieve and maintain a sense of timelessness.

OT: Speaking of community, Berkeley recently honored you by declaring June 27 “Chaz Bear Day.” What was it like to be recognized by the city in such a public way? CB: That was a really big turning point for me because I hadn’t realized that my presence was so impactful. I needed to truly think about how the city was looking at me and where I wanted to go with this. It was truly flattering, and it still is an amazing thing. It was kind of like more of the city recognizing you for your good work. That’s really all I can do: keep working. OT: You’re also overseeing the aforementioned Company Records. What are your goals for the label, and how are you choosing who to sign and work with? CB: There’s two ways to approach it: working with new and younger acts and working with your peers. Everyone I’m working with, I’ve known them first not as musicians. I like that approach more. I do feel like we’re all around the same age – 20 and 30-somethings – and we all started playing music around the same time. But some of us didn’t get the exposure, so I think bringing up the community is what I’m focusing on and making sure there is a solid, level platform for everyone I’m rising with. It will make the city better, it should make the Bay Area better and inevitably it should make (laughs) everything a little bit nicer. Toro y Moi will play 9:30 Club on Monday, November 12. Tickets are $25 and doors open at 7 p.m. Follow Bear on Instagram and Twitter @toroymoi. His next album Outer Peace will be released on January 18 via Carpark Records. Learn more at 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC 202-265-0930;

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November 2018  

November 2018