Lots More Info on Red Light Cocktails & Dessert Bar Coming to the former Bar di Bari space in April

14th and R St, NW

Earlier in the week we noted Red Light coming soon signs had been posted in the former Bar di Bari space at 14th and R St, NW. Props to our tipster who seems to have gotten most of the details correct on Red Light.

From a press release:

“Partners Aaron Gordon, Robert Underwood, and brothers Ari and Micah Wilder are joining forces to open Red Light, Cocktails & Dessert Bar at 1401 R St. NW. The name gives a playful nod to 14 Street’s colorful past as a red light district in the nation’s capital. Those wishing to visit this libation haven, which will also have a show-stopping dessert menu, can anticipate an April, 2014 opening. The collaborative efforts will also result in imaginative sweets with potent spirits, taking ‘boozy desserts’ to a new level. Red Light will serve nightly and also feature weekend brunch, a perfect date spot and to gather with friends.

“Distinctive craft cocktails and inspired desserts in a fun, relaxed bar will be the ideal complement to 14th St. – DC’s top restaurant destination, explains Aaron Gordon. “Who doesn’t love delicious chocolate and Champagne?”

Gordon tapped Robert Underwood as executive chef for Red Light. Underwood was previously the head pastry chef at award-winning Komi and Marcel’s in Washington, DC. His menu at Red Light will offer ten desserts changing daily, reflecting the season, and a featured soufflé. Opening selections planned include Soufflé of the Moment– white chocolate Grand Marnier; Pistachio Tea Cakes – with local strawberry jam and lavender gelato; Abuelita’s Tres Leches – with toasted coconut cake and Zapaca rum; Black & Tan Donuts – ale batter beignets with a chocolate stout filling; and a Quinoa BrûléePudding – with caramelized bananas and spicy candied cashews. Dessert choices will be priced from $8 to $10. A pre-fixe menu, complete with a cocktail or wine pairing, will also be available for $16 to $20 per person.

The cocktail menu and wine list is being developed by the talented Wilder brothers, who will serve as Red Light’s beverage directors. Since 2008, when they founded Wilder Bros LLC, they have created over a dozen successful cocktail programs and opened Fed Restaurant in May, 2013. Their innovative list for Red Light will include a selection of eight to 12 specialty drinks, as well as ‘adult’ desserts that combine cocktail and dessert ingredients for a spirited treat. Red Light’s upcoming list will include the Riverstone Slush –ice wine with seasonal nectar, shaved river stone ice and winter fruit; the Double Down –Buffalo Trace Bourbon, rose bitters, B grade maple syrup, Ruby Red grapefruit and lime; andthe Cake Shake –Red Velvet cupcake, homemade ice cream, Atlantico dark rum, Velvet Felernum and cocoa bitters. The menu will also offer a boutique wine selection as well as eight to ten Champagnes by-the-glass, including four Champagnes on-tap.

Design studio SwatchRoom is responsible for the scheme for Red Light. The intimate 27-seat interior will have ‘love-nest’ seating options of red leather banquettes and club chairs for lingering plus a sprinkling of two and four top tables. Guest can grab a stool at the dramatic concrete 18-person bar and see the chefs in action at the display pastry bar. The seasonal 44-seat outdoor patio will be the destination gathering place with its warm and inviting environment featuring communal, cocktail and lounge seating.

“The contemporary design for Red Light will call back to the dangerous and salacious history of 14th Street, a dessert lounge and a place where the edge of rock & roll is juxtaposed to classic romance through color palette, found objects, and sensual textures,” states Warren Weixler, co-owner of SwatchRoom. “The design will illuminate the natural allure of voyeurism and the intoxicating art of the performance; specifically preparing craft cocktails and delectable desserts.”

Red Light Cocktails & Dessert Bar is located at 1401 R St. NW, Washington, DC 20007, and will operate Monday through Thursday from 4 PM to close, Friday and Saturday from 12 Noon to 2 AM and Sunday from 12 Noon to 10 PM.”

54 Comment

  • “Colorful” isn’t exactly the word I’d use for 14th street’s darker past. Nor does prostitution make me think of “the natural allure of voyeurism and the intoxicating art of the performance,” it makes me think of human trafficking, drug abuse, and oppressive poverty.

  • WTF… Can I get a vial of crack or maybe a driveby shooting for some entertainment also?

  • Nope, still gross. Agree with what Allison said – prostitution and the sex slave trade does not deserve a “playful” nod in the form of a concept-style, overpriced restaurant. Disgusting.

  • “The name gives a playful nod to 14 Street’s colorful past as a red light district. . .” Seriously? (see above – human trafficking etc.) There was nothing colorful or playful about 14 year old junkies being raped 5 times a night.

  • Agreed with Allison, Adam, AJNE, and Victoria.

  • Agreed with Allison, Adam, AJNE, and Victoria. But textdot…that’s the worst kind of attitude.

  • haha – what a mess! I love these press releases. Libation Haven!

  • Ditto the other comments on how distasteful and offensive this concept is.

    And please. Why do so many restaurateurs think it’s “pre-fixe”? Prix fixe, people! Prix fixe!

  • I assumed this wouldn’t really work… but reading more about it, I actually think it might be a cool place. I often think about “just grabbing dessert” somewhere, and this might work well, instead of taking up a table at a more typical restaurant. I’m excited to try it.

    Also, can everyone take a chill pill on the name? good grief! “A playful nod to 14 Street’s colorful past” might be of questionable taste, but I don’t think they’re in favor of trafficking and shootings.

    • Right?! I stopped caring about the terribly written press release and the ridiculous pretensions of the restaurant theme when I read the pastry chef is formerly of Komi’s, which is generally considered DC’s best restaurant. If the desserts are good, everything else is irrelevant.

  • Yup, still sounds lame.

  • This is tasteless and sick. Here’s wishing empty tables and financial ruin upon them.

  • “Yes, bartender, I’ll try the Bloody Mattress, and my wife would like the Dirty Needle, on the rocks, please.”

    • Would Sir care for a starter of some garlic bread perhaps?….No, thank you. I will proceed directly to the intravenous injection of hard drugs, please….

  • Gross. I have no business here.

  • Agree that the idea of a place focusing on dessert & drinks sounds awesome, but the “colorful nod” nonsense is really repulsive. I hope they change their mind on that FAST. Then I’d love to give them my business. But until then – not a chance.

  • Love the idea for a dessert / drinks place. Hate the name and concept.

    My real question: is this a post-swagger jacking restaurant concept? Swagger-jacking jumping the shark?

  • The idea of “love nest” seating sounds pretty gross too. I would imagine this idea would be more of a draw for girls-night-out groups, not just couples. It just sounds like schtick. Maybe some people want a creme brulee without a side of PDA.

    • Seriously. And since when was any red light district about “love”? I’d say it’s pretty much the opposite.

  • Sounds like a terrible idea. People in the 14th Street Area are very health conscious and not into desserts. I love fine dining, but haven’t ordered a dessert at a restaurant in years. I love craft cocktails but not with sweet dessert like things in them. Doubt this will be in business for long.

    • “People in the 14th Street Area are very health conscious and not into desserts.”
      How exactly do you know that people in the 14th street area are not into desserts? Or health conscious for that matter? (plus I think this place is not just for the people in the 14th street area.)

    • “People in the 14th Street Area are very health conscious…” So, they won’t eat desserts (except for the huge selection of dessert/baked goods at Whole Foods), and a healthy alternative to sweet desserts are “craft cocktails.” Sounds much healthier!!

    • This comment cracks me up. I imagine that Glinda’s reasoning goes something like this: “I live on 14th street and I do not like desserts. Therefore, noone who lives on 14th street likes desserts.” Logical fallacy at its finest.

    • This is the silliest thing I’ve ever read. The one thing 14th St is missing is a good place for dessert and drinks (and I say this as a health nut). Unfortunately, based on this concept, there’s no way I can give them my money.

    • …and I’ve never seen a line out the door at Ted’s Bulletin Bakery.

  • I don’t understand how this guy can keep churning through investor money. You’d think people wouldn’t give him another dime for another schlock’y concept.
    Unless, of course, he’s independently wealthy. In that case, he’s like the bizarro Hilton brothers.

  • Puhhllease. All the people complaining on here that this theme is in poor taste have probably all vacationed in Amsterdam, partaken in the cafe’s, and giggled through the red light district. It’s just a theme, they’re just desserts.

  • Coming Soon! “Pipe.” The name of the new lounge gives a playful nod to the colorful history of drug use in the nation’s capital. Decor will be based on vintage, 90s crack house aesthetic.

  • What exactly is an “inspired dessert”? Can someone please explain that to me. Also, what is a “distinctive craft cocktail”? Who comes up with this bullshit??

  • What a terrible and insensitive concept. I live one block away and surely will not be visiting this establishment. “Red Light” = gross. I don’t want to be reminded of prostitution while eating a souffle. Blech.

  • Ugh, PR fail. In place of the “red light district” and “14th St. history” tie-ins, they should have just marketed this as inspired by vintage-y burlesque, or something. Sure, the press release would still be overwrought, and the concept would probably still seem a bit silly–but at least they could have maintained the atmosphere of naughtiness and voyeurism in a more playful/sexy way, instead of romanticizing a history of street prostitution, with all the drug addiction, violence, desperation, etc. that went with it.

  • I won’t add to commentary on how tasteless (and cheesy) the theme is…..BUT i will remind everyone that 14th Street once had a dessert and wine bar: ACKC. Sure it was more focused on dessert but they tried the drinks thing and it didn’t work. Now that space is occupied by Drafting Table – the awful pub owned by the same fellow that came up with this ridiculous Red Light concept. Hopefully a decent tenant will take over the Drafting Table and Red Light spaces soon!

  • justinbc

    Is he trying to break Roberta Donna’s record for most restaurants closed in DC?

  • well, i’d agree with the few others who are interested in the content — i’d love a place to stop for a dessert and a drink or coffee after dinner — when you’re ready to leave the restaurant but not ready to go in yet…

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