By Travis Mitchell
Spring is mere weeks away, and with its return come the pink, white and purple blossoms of D.C.’s beloved Japanese cherry trees. The National Park Service predicts this year’s peak bloom will occur from March 17 through 20. After a morning of sightseeing and snapping photos around the Tidal Basin, relax at one of the restaurants getting into the festival spirit with food and drink specials. Here are five to bookmark over the coming weeks.
Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Bar
1843 7th St. NW
This themed bar is the place to be for all things cherry blossom. Its cocktails and décor blend the flora and colors of the festival with Japanese ingredients and flare. Sip on drinks ($13) made with ingredients like Japanese whiskey and shochu while gazing at a 10-foot-tall Godzilla robot and rooms adorned with butterflies and paper cranes. The bar — a temporary project from Drink Company, the creative minds behind the popular Game of Thrones and Miracle on Seventh Street bars — will remain open through April 29.
1414 U St. NW
Away from the crowds on the National Mall, this U Street distillery is preparing a three-course meal ($45) designed with cherry blossoms in mind. Feast on dishes including baby spring greens with cherries and shaved asparagus and an entrée of crispy skin duck breast. The bar has created accompanying cocktails ($11) using the distillery’s own spirits, such as its Backroom rye whiskey and WildJune gin.
1520 14th St. NW
Logan Circle’s rustic Spanish restaurant is swapping cherries for sherry with a program of classes, sherry dinners and parties from March 20 through April 15. Highlights include the kickoff party on March 20 at 5 p.m., featuring sherry flights and cocktails. The kitchen has also prepared three pinxto pairings ($9 each) — a skewered snack and a two-ounce pour of sherry — available weekdays from 5 to 7 p.m.
2401 M St. NW
From March 20 through April 15, the Fairmont is offering a cherry blossom afternoon tea ($40) from 2 to 4 p.m. daily. Tea service takes place in a lounge overlooking the hotel’s blossom-lined courtyard. The menu comes with a bento box with both sweet and savory cherry treats like curried chicken, mango and toasted almonds on a cherry marmalade brioche. Upgrades are available for rosé ($50) and champagne ($55).
The Ritz-Carlton, Georgetown
3100 South St. NW
Visitors to the Ritz-Carlton can start a day of touring with a plate of cherry blossom pancakes ($28) with brandied sour-cherry compote and whipped cream. For a nightcap, consider the hotel’s cherry blossom daiquiri ($15), a blend of Pyrat XO rum, house-made cherry blossom syrup, fresh lime and orange bitters. Both items will be available during March and April.