Sign of the Whale reopens, returns to slinging classic bar menu

Media Credit: Matt Dynes | Senior Staff Photographer

Sign of the Whale, a popular bar for students, reopened this month at its original 1825 M St. NW location.

Sign of the Whale has made a comeback at its original location.

Earlier this month, Sign of the Whale’s cocktails returned with a splash to 1825 M St. NW, after the popular student spot closed and rebranded to DC Tap House in October. The short-lived venture closed in February after attempting to change the bar’s reputation and cater to more than just college students – leaving Sign of the Whale to return to its place.

Samuel Gobrail, one of the bar’s three owners, said he wanted to reinvent the bar while keeping elements like college night specials and a bar food menu intact.

“We’ve got some cool ideas that are true to the history but with a new flavor,” he said.

Sign of the Whale brings back old favorites with new drink specials and a revamped interior. The red exterior has been painted bright blue, but inside, the space has retained two bars, one on the main level and one on the upper floor.

Gobrail said he and his partners, Victoria Fakhoury and Britt Swan, were intent on preserving classic elements while making improvements to the bar. The signature cocktail, dubbed the Whale Pail ($25), is still a bucket full of mixed liquors, but can now be ordered with a sweet kick of Swedish Fish and other candy garnishes.

In the coming weeks, the bar will expand to offer a weekend brunch, Gobrail said, but for now, the food menu boasts greasy classic bar foods like mozzarella sticks ($8) and wings ($6). The entrees stick to standards as well with cheesesteaks ($13 to $14) and burgers, but they also go oversized with the gargantuan whale burger ($15 to $18) sandwiched between two grilled cheeses – with waffle fries and tater tots as toppings.

“Think of the best burger you’ve ever had,” Gobrail said. “That’s what we’re going for.”

Sign of the Whale returns their daily drink specials with happy hours from 4 to 8 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends, where beers, rail drinks and shots are just $4.

The bar is also bringing back “college nights” on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 11 p.m with draft beers for $2.50 and will continue hosting raffled happy hours during which the host drinks for free and attendees receive discounts.

D.C. Tap House attempted to change the bar’s reputation as a watering hole for college students by offering a more upscale menu featuring a raw bar and cutting down on discounted beer and shots.

But, Gobrail said there was “a lot of demand” for the reopening of Sign of the Whale because it was a neighborhood staple.

“It was a place you’d go to grab a drink after work. It was a place you’d grab some really good lunch. And it was also a place you came to party,” Gobrail said.

Holly Cohen contributed reporting.

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