Let’s face it — Washingtonians love their speakeasies. The latest in the growing roster is Harold Black on Capitol Hill, located quaintly at REDACTED. Just kidding, it’s right above the Italian restaurant Acqua Al 2 across from Eastern Market.
Unlike other such bars dotting the District’s landscape, HB feels like a true speakeasy. It’s only open at night, and you need a reservation, which is only procurable via text message from a number that isn’t published. Because of course there’s no sign, you have to walk into a door marked only for the adjoining restaurant SUNA, walk up a staircase, at which point you open a sliding door that reveals the most secret bar you’ve never seen.
It’s equal parts Boardwalk Empire and 007, on the rocks. The decor is dark and vintage – even the bathrooms have an old-time W.C. feel. You’ll see what I mean.
The mixologists at HB don’t mind taking risks and use some awfully obscure liquors in their creations. Stone-pine liqueur, shochu, stone water madeira, just to name a few. All the special cocktails (aptly titled elixirs) are a not-unreasonable $12.
There’s a full bar and a few beers available too, for those not feeling quite so adventurous. If you’re one of the fortunate ones, you might just get one of the big spherical ice cubes they make at the beginning of the evening.
As a distinguished establishment, they have a few non-negotiable rules (no cell phone use, no flash photography, keep conversation low and civilized), but curiously the first rule isn’t to not talk about Harold Black.
There are several booths and some seats at the bar, but this place is very exclusive. You can’t book any more than six people at a time, and reservations are strictly limited to 90 minutes. Highly recommended.
212 7th St SE
On a final note, since DC Style Is Real is in its last week – it’s been a joy reviewing local things for you over the last few years. Until next time, friends.
Written by Joel Church.