22 Dec 2010

Very Early Peek at Church & State

The light over the bar at Erik Holzherr's latest cocktail den, Church & State

Welcome to Church & State.  We are Americans: inventors of juleps, sours, rickeys, fizzes, and martinis. All of our ingredients are born, bred, & blended within the United States, exclusively. Innovation is our heritage and our calling.

So says owner and Capitol Hill mixologist extraordinaire Erik Holzherr of his third and newest bar above Fruit Bat on H Street. You may have heard that the space is going to be open on New Year’s Eve, as part of Fruit Bat’s festivities. I had a chance to check it out and chat with Erik a bit about what we can expect when the space is finally open in January.

The focus will be on American small-batch spirits by purveyors like Leopold Brothers, whose products will be featured prominently in Church & State’s cocktails. All the products – beers, wines, spirits, liqueurs – will be American.  Anyone who’s been to Wisdom and/or Fruit Bat knows that Erik and his team know what they’re doing behind the bar, so it’s fair to expect expert takes on American classics. Holzherr told Smorgie.com that he’ll also be carrying Blue Coat Gin and Vieux Carre Absinthe, among others, which regulars at his Pennsylvania Avenue SE bar Wisdom will recognize.

So what’s the new spot look like? Find out after the jump…

Well, that’s easy: Church. No, seriously. There’s a freakin’ confessional, which is mildly reminiscent of the curtained siderooms in Wisdom. Not to mention ample pew

The bar at Church & State. That's the confessional there at the end. (Please pardon my crappy photography.)

space for patrons to SIT UP STRAIGHT AND STOP FIDGETING IN FRONT OF JESUS, GOD AND MARY (sorry, I’m having flashbacks of my Sundays spent in the pews of St. Margaret Mary’s back home… where was I? Oh, right… pews). The bar foot rail is a kneeler (thankfully the bar itself – made by Erik’s uncle – is normal height) and the Holy Spirit floats in stained glass… above

The Holy Spirit preparing to keep a watchful eye on the spirits.

the spirits. There’s a sense of humor in the decor, and much like Erik’s other bars, it doesn’t take itself too seriously despite pouring some of the best drinks in the city.

So, if you’re still looking for something to do on New Year’s, consider Fruit Bat and sneaking a peek at Church & State. Or you can hit up Wisdom, which will be showing episodes of Mad Men and featuring specials on Old Fashioneds and other Mad Men -esque cocktails. None of the bars is charging a cover. For more ideas on what to do for New Year’s, stay tuned for my New Year’s Eve on the Hill round up post coming very soon!

Stained glass, salvaged from a church, sits above H Street NE.

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7 responses to “Very Early Peek at Church & State”

  1. Topher says:

    mad men, blue coat and the best cocktails on H? sounds a lot like Toyland to me!!

    the church stuff is kind of a left turn though- thanks for the story Nichole.

  2. Thanks, Topher.

    Mad Men is NYE @ Wisdom though!

  3. …but I thought they separated?

    Alcohol and church décor seems like an unholy alliance to me. That or delirium tremens.
    Sorry– couldn’t help myself: I’ll be handing Mr. Holzherr my money over there soon, anyway.

  4. C says:

    This looks awesome. I still haven’t tried Fruit Bat because it’s always empty inside and I don’t want to be the only person there!

  5. Sandra P says:

    C, You don’t like empty bars? I only like bars when they are empty so you get to chat with the Bartenders and get good service. I bet you like rollercoasters for the long lines you get to stand on…jk

  6. monkeyrotica says:

    “”I like bars just after they open in the evening. When the air inside is still cool and clean and everything is shiny. The first quiet drink of the evening in a quiet bar — that’s wonderful.” — Raymond Chandler

    But then the noisy crowd shows up with the flailing hands and the air kisses and they turn the tv up and the spell is broken.

  7. C says:

    Sandra, I guess that works if the bartender wants to chat with a customer but I usually don’t get that vibe (especially if they’re nowhere to be seen when I peek in).

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