But, like its sister bar, The Imperial will feature an expansive list of vintage and obscure bottles, but take a more varied approach with spirits such as rum, brandy, and Chartreuse. Thomas hopes to continue and educate drinkers in the same way. “I think what happened with Jack Rose is going to happen again,” he said. “Cocktails are an open calling card to other spirits.”
Beyond the drinks, The Imperial will also feature a varied a set of service areas. The first floor will house the restaurant headed by Chef Russell Jones, who has crafted a seafood-forward menu that Thomas describes as “Mid-Atlantic through the lens of Southern France.” The menu will include creative seafood options like lobster imperial, seasonal vegetable-forward plates, Koji-aged steaks, and handmade pastas. The raw bar will pull double-duty as a lunch sandwich counter during the day and a rooftop bar area overlooking the chaotic U St-18th St.-Florida Ave. intersection for the ultimate people-watching.
The basement will see the return of beloved cocktail bar Dram & Grain headed by Andy Bixby, which will have an expanded footprint and new tasting menu. The wine program, headed by Morgan Kirchner that Thomas describes as “more creative” than the list at Jack Rose, will incorporate a full complement of vintages that Thomas has collected along the way.
The Imperial is on track to open by the end of the month and spirits nerds would do well to check out the early menus to catch some of the most interesting bottles in Thomas’ arsenal, but it is looking like there will be more than enough to warrant repeat visits.