Feb 28, 2024 - News

Exclusive: Bar stars to open vinyl and cocktail lounge in Dupont Circle

A yellow cocktail on a yellow table (left) and two pink cocktails with a garnish being applied with tweezers

Press Club's cheffy cocktails. Photo: courtesy of Hive Hospitality

Miso-washed cognac cocktails. Vinyl records. "Sando-based" snacks. There's a lot to make headlines at Press Club, an intimate record and cocktail lounge coming to Dupont Circle by early summer.

Why it matters: Barmen and longtime friends Will Patton (Bresca and Jônt) and Devin Kennedy (ex-East Village destination Pouring Ribbons) both have résumés studded with Michelin-starred restaurants and Spirited Awards, so it's exciting they're teaming up for their own venture.

The vibe: "Discotheque meets '90s record shop," Patton tells Axios. Though there will be vinyl and Japan-esque touches, Kennedy says, "It's not like a tranquil Japanese listening bar where you sit and listen to records."

  • Kennedy, the self-appointed "vibe coordinator," will man turntables stacked with vinyls that pay homage to his D.C. upbringing (Pusha T, No Malice) as well as funk, disco, neo-soul, new wave, post-punk, "anything with a base and beat."

What to expect: Lyrical drinks. The bar will offer two menus, each themed around a rotating playlist of favorite tunes.

  • "Track list," an à la carte core menu, features a dozen-odd cocktails showcasing the bartenders' favorite spirits and techniques — think yogurt-washed Michter's bourbon or a coffee-spiked cocktail with chef-favorite Harry's Berries. Plus, fun bites like nori fries or katsu sandos.
  • "Play list," a deep-cut tasting menu, will rotate bi-monthly with cocktail flights that highlight seasonal ingredients — some pulled from the nearby Dupont Circle farmers market — all presented tableside with snacks.

The intrigue: The name — not to be confused with that other press club — nods to pressing records and ingredients for cocktails. And yes, a little to the National Press Club, where Patton's father was a member.

  • "We wanted something that was evocative of D.C. without being like 'Monument Bar,'" says Patton.

Zoom in: The lounge is a Hive Hospitality production, chef Ryan Ratino's growing restaurant group that includes Bresca and Jônt, where Patton is beverage director. His approach takes a lot of cues — and super specialty ingredients — from the Michelin-starred kitchens.

  • Patton's "nerdy," scientific style of cocktail creation utilizes homemade creations (lacto-fermented carrot, anyone?) and flavorful drink stocks.
  • "If you're cooking, you use chicken stock instead of water. I figure out different liquids to maximize the flavor," he says.

Meanwhile, Kennedy describes his style as more "minimalist and conceptual."

  • Sustainability is big — you'll find a lot of preserved and pickled ingredients on his bar — as is highlighting small farmers and producers.

Yes, but: Don't expect a 20-minute wait for mixology. A lot of the cheffy prep is about getting drinks into hands quickly to please customers.

  • As Patton says, "It doesn't matter how good the cocktail is if I treat you like a prick while I'm serving it."
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