I probably don’t need to come here more than once, but it was a fun experience with creative cocktails and lots of photo ops. It gets crowded, so go early to get all your pics, then have a cocktail and hit the road.
Do you like things that look pretty? Me too. What about something that looks pretty in a picture, but upon further examination, is actually a bit of a lipstick–on–a–pig situation? If so, you should come to the Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Bar, and Instagram your heart out. Yes, you will get a bunch of great pictures among the fake cherry blossom trees, the faux butterflies swarming in the back bar, and best of all, a laser-light-show-fire breathing Godzilla and his bestie Mothra. Now, Godzilla will always be a top monster to me, but this version did seem to be sporting a bit of a dad bod. I’ll cut him some slack, though, since he is a few million years old. FYI – in case you didn’t know, the famous D.C. cherry blossoms were a gift from Japan in 1912, hence the style mashup of pretty flowers and Kaiju monsters. In fact, the more I reflect on it, the bar could be a symbolic mashup of the #friendsnotfriends relationship with Japan. Here are 3,000 cherry trees, oh yeah and we’ll see you at Pearl Harbor in 29 years. That’s all in the past though. The second best part about this pop-up bar is the creative drink names, and third best is the way they taste. Clearly their priorities are intact.
Money Score: Good
The cocktails are $13, but before you start huffing and puffing about the price, hear me out. These drinks are unique, on-theme, and quite delicious. I sampled four, and by that I mean I drank three full ones and sampled the fourth. And that brings me to my next point: these drinks could benefit from a bit more alcohol. Each has a Japanese flair, and even if you’re confused by the ingredients, I promise they work together. If you want to immerse fully in this alternate reality, I suggest the Beana Colada, which comes in a ceramic good luck cat. If you want a drink that tickles both the tongue and your fancy, go for the A God, An Alpha Predator, Godzilla. That’s the name of the drink, and it has the most delicate honeydew melon taste – a fitting tribute to please our great lizard god.
Consciousness Score: Needs Improvement
When you have thousands of faux cherry blossoms blooming inside a bar, it’s hard not to wonder how wasteful the décor truly is. Take away the trees and the butterflies, and you’re left with a dive bar in the middle of DC. I get it, it’s an experience, but at what cost? The decorations may feature a local artist, which is cool, but I think it would be a good move if they donated some of their proceeds to a local charity, since it has generated so much buzz. Plus, Godzilla is nothing if not charitable. He’s always helping us stupid humans out, anyway.
‘All the Feels’ Score: Good
The staff made this a really fun and worthwhile experience. One bartender even posed so I could take a picture of his flower-wrapped man bun. That’s the kind of customer service I look for in my dive bars. But this place might also be intended for a more recent vintage of Millennial. The ones not born in the 80s, I mean. I’ve never really felt old until I stepped over the threshold into this bar. At least Godzilla felt my pain. Mothra just stared down at me like a large, oblivious insect.
Overall Score: Okay
Absolut Elyx Vodka, Blanc Vermouth, Strawberry Grenadine, Calpico, Sparkling Water
This drink was refreshing and yummy, if a bit sweet. It came with a pretty purple flower, which made me feel like I was sipping a cocktail by the pool in Hawaii. Then the door to the outside opened, and I was blasted with arctic air. Perhaps that was a good thing, since it snapped me out of my fantasy just in time for me to notice a Rice Krispies treat on top of a drink (the Chu-Hi, if you’re interested). I can always get behind a drink that comes with a snack.
Cherry Blossom G&T
Tanqueray and Cherry Blossom Tonic
I’ll be honest, my memory of this one is that it looked and tasted exactly like the Calpico Fizz. Still good, but perhaps there was more alcohol in these drinks than I originally thought?
A God, An Alpha Predator, Godzilla
Unfiltered Sake, Sochu, Blanc Quinquina, Fresh Honeydew Juice, Melon Spheres
This is the elixir of a monster god, and let me tell you, it is divine. I don’t know what a quarter of the ingredients are in this drink, and I do not care. I would swap this for my morning coffee and put it in my water bottle.
The Way of the Tea
Barr Hill Gin, Sake, Matcha, Honey, Lemon, Egg White, Green Tea Dust
This one had a really unique flavor that is hard to describe. A little frothy, good tea flavor, and all the way delicious. I imagine this is what Godzilla would serve if Mothra and King Gidorah came over for tea time. Points if Godzi remembers to set out three cups for King G.