D.C. residents can now say “I do” to an extra upscale cocktail in a playful wedding-themed atmosphere.
A new cocktail bar called Destination Wedding opened this weekend in the space formerly occupied by 2 Birds 1 Stone. The bar on 1800 14th St. NW may not have guests in white gowns or tuxedos, but it makes up for it with crafty cocktails and a vibrant, open bar with nooks of privacy for those looking to get hitched.
Robin Miller, the bar manager for Destination Wedding, said the bar sets itself apart as a carefree alternative to 14th Street speakeasies with more secluded interiors.
“There’s a billion dark, smoky, cocktail speakeasies, and I think it’s important that we set ourselves apart from that somehow,” Miller said. “We’re still making quality drinks, we’re still doing things that are fun and challenging, but we wanted to do it in an environment that people could actually have fun in, and a little more lighthearted.”
Miller said the bar decorations and punny names are just the employees “poking fun at ourselves” and the bar is purposefully serving “cheesy classics.” A baby blue bar, an ode to the tradition of carrying something blue on your wedding day, is lined with stools dripping with ribbons of translucent tulle and tiny hanging lights give off a warm, romantic ambiance.
Each nook in Destination Wedding features a seating area dedicated to a typical nuptial locale, teeming with decor in different colors and themes. One corner mimics a Las Vegas elopement, with cards, dice and poker chips spread out on the walls. Settings of Paris and Morocco, with plush cushions and curtains, complement one another side-by-side among the busy decor.
The cocktails ($9 to $13) are named after marriage puns, but their concepts still commit to the technical flair you would find at some of the District’s best bars, Miller said.
“A handful of our drinks are carbonated and served on draft and then you’ll see a few of our drinks are actually infused with nitrogen and the nitrogen has this cascading, soft, velvety effect that is very similar to the effect you get when you shake a cocktail,” Miller said.
Sip on a J Rickey ($9), a low-calorie version of a mojito, which also happens to be Miller’s favorite. The Fairy Vodmother ($10), a vodka soda with rosé also plays on a combination of two favorites.
Miller said tying into its retro signage outside, the bar serves up its own take on drinks from a “parents’ generation of cocktails.”
“We decided to make these classic cocktails from before we could really drink and make them more modern, more complex, more interesting, just higher quality in general,” Miller said.
Around the corner from Destination Wedding’s subterranean entrance, the bar’s sister restaurant Doi Moi provides South Asian snacks for the bar, including grilled chicken skewers ($12), spiced cashews ($5) and grilled chicken wings ($12).
Miller said he worked closely with veteran bartender Lukas Smith to bring Destination Wedding to life. They met six years ago at one of Miller’s first bartending gigs, and he looked to Smith for inspiration, he said.
“He was always a sounding board for me when it came to getting ideas and advice, when we started working together, it was much more of a collaboration,” Miller said. “We geek out together about cocktails and cool ideas.”
Despite its novelty concept, Miller said he wants Destination Wedding to become a neighborhood establishment – not a pop-up bar you enjoy once for a picture. The bar marries elements of classic and modern for a lighthearted space with technical beverages and yummy bar food to boot.
While the bar is currently closed on Sundays and Mondays, Destination Wedding opens at 5 p.m. and stays open until 1:30 a.m. on weekdays and 2:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday.