King of Kitsch Continues to Kill It In Shaw

line sat night
Photo by Avin Sharma

Speaking of cherry blossoms – thanks to Avin for sending Saturday:

“Back of line a block down from entrance to Southern Efficiency.”

This is the “Ode to all things Japanese will include origami, waving cats and Super Mario Bros.-inspired cocktails”

Southern-Efficiency-Cherry-Blossom-PUB-Photo-by-Farrah-Skeiky
Southern Efficiency at the Cherry Blossom PUB (Photo by Farrah Skeiky)

“The Cherry Blossom PUB at Mockingbird Hill and Southern Efficiency will be open March 1 through April 15, 5pm to 12:30am Sunday through Thursday and 5pm to 1:30am Friday and Saturday.”

You can see the menu here.

42 Comment

  • Walked by this on our way to the movie theater on Saturday… and as I said to my husband – I guess I just have never been “hip” enough to stand in a line like that for a cocktail.

    • Tom

      Same. You couldn’t get me to stand in that line. To each his or her own, I suppose!

    • I think it’s less about being hip and more about having nothing better to do with their free time…

      • Well, that’s awkward. Not sure you need to project here – you know literally nothing about the people pictured.

        • Not true. It’s clear by looking at the photo that we can tell they like standing in lines, and it’s also clear that some of them get really upset over other people opining that it’s dumb to wait in long lines to get into a bar just for the opportunity to buy expensive, mediocre drinks and Instagram some pictures of fake cherry blossom trees that thousands of people have already posted. But if it’s your type of thing, by all means, have a ball!

        • Actually – I think it clearly states that said people value the desire to visit said places more than anything else going on at the moment (otherwise they would not be waiting in said line). So while “having nothing better to do” is a backhanded comment of the activity, it’s not too far off from reality.

    • skj84

      Maybe because the concepts are a lot of fun? Its not just the cocktail, its the ambience. Don’t have to be hip to enjoy a fun time. I swear to goodness there are way too many people who offended by the concept of standing in a line. If you don’t want to do it, then don’t, but you are not better than anybody who chooses to wait.

      • I liked the Christmas bar. This one seems fun, but I agree with everyone who says the cocktails aren’t particularly good. If the line was shorter, I’d check this out but I’m not sure it’ll be worth the amount of time it takes to get in.
        .
        And I have no issues waiting in line for something I really want to do. I waited for an hour to get into Dacha so that I could drink $20 beers on Saturday. I might have had better things to do, but there was nothing else I wanted to do more 😛

      • Tom

        That’s perhaps the best explanation of it I’ve heard so far. It may not be my style, but at the end of the day, I’m not really in any position to look down my nose at anyone for choosing to stand in a line.

      • There are apparently a lot of really bitter people in DC. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • justinbc

    I actually really miss Southern Efficiency and Mockingbird Hill as they were, not this pop-up nonsense. It’s all a ploy for Instagram / social media hype, and the drinks have just been awful. They decided instead of making good cocktails to just add copious amounts of sugar to everything and give it a funny name. And there are more in the pipeline after these are done too. Just ugh all around.

    • I agree, but they can’t seem to stop minting money, so I don’t think they care much about our opinion. (These restaurants were fairly empty prior to these gimmicks.)

      • justinbc

        Yeah I remember routinely going to either of the two (I never cared for Eat the Rich) and usually being one of about 3 or 4 people in the bar. It’s unfortunate that one of the first guys out there on the Shaw bandwagon has to now resort to gimmicks to get people in the door. (and to his credit, down the block) I wonder if it says more about the neighborhood being unwilling to support the bars as they were, or the rest of the city population’s desire to show/tell everyone that they’re at the “cool” place…

        • I think the original iteration was simply “too grown up” for that part of Shaw – not enough easily Instagramable material for Millenials to consume.

          • While I love Right Proper all around, they have a similar level of cool, pop-y kitsch/art on their walls, and they are regularly packed. The difference, though, is that they deliver with their beers (and their chick filet).

    • Yes to all of this. I love the cocktails at Southern Efficiency. Can’t wait for a lull in the pop up concept so I can go back.

    • I would say that if you’re looking for an upscale bar in Shaw but lower-key/less focused on Instagram/a little more grown-up, La Jambe is a good bet. It reminds me of Mockingbird Hill pre-gimmicks. They do a steady business, but the bartenders are wonderful and the wine and cocktails are excellent.

    • Tried the pop-up because some friends wanted to. I had two cocktails, and they were both good and neither were sugar-y. One was with sweet vermouth and the other with amaro, and both were tasty. While I don’t need to stand in line to get back, I’m surprised to hear all the comments about the cocktails being bad, or “awful” even. Maybe I just lucked out with the right Mario-costumed bartender, but I don’t think so.

  • Eat the Rich is still one of my favorite spots in DC, but this pop-up is a mockery of a cocktail bar. The drinks are awful and all made with too much sugar. Would prefer things go back to the way they were and we stick to one pop-up a year – a Miracle on 7th!

  • This iteration probably doesn’t deserve these lines, but my SO and really enjoyed it. We went the first day and were able to walk right in.

    • I was there the first day too. Pleasant, no lines, etc. Was walking down to the tailor nearby that following Saturday, and it was crazy.

    • I was able to go the second day by chance when there was no line and had a very pleasant experience. It’s not only about the drinks but overall fun and unique ambience and experience. Cocktails were good, decent for the price but not stellar. That being said I personally would not wait more than 30 minutes if I were to go back.

  • Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but if you go down the alley at the back of this strip of retail you can get in through the backdoor without a wait.

  • The concepts are really fun, and it’s worth going if you can get in at an off-hour, but honestly both the Xmas and Cherry Blossom cocktails themselves are not worth queuing up all the way to the Metro entrance.

    • I waited in line for the first Christmas bar, and it was cute and fun (plus winter drinks just have a certain special-ness to them), but I don’t think I would have waited in line if it was this long. Not because I have something soooo much better to do; it’s just not my cup of tea. I was in line for well over an hour that one time and that was just a bit down the block. To each his own though. Good for the bar for making money, and I hope the people in line are enjoying themselves.

      • Totally agree — not a value judgement on my part as I quite enjoy the themes/ambiance, I just would not go only for the quality of the cocktails.

  • I don’t have a comment on the merits of this place over any other as I have not been, but the notion of changing the theme and decoration of your bar every quarter seems like the logical end of the the movement of culture from one that values familiarity to one that values variety. There was a time when people had their beer that they drank at the bar they drank at and the restaurant they went to once a year and ordered the same entree. Now a place is so tired after 3 months they have to rebuild the whole damn thing.

  • Anyone gone on a weekday? Curious whether the lines are like this at like 5pm on a Tuesday.

    • I did and we had to wait only long enough for the bouncer to check IDs at the door — absolutely the way to go. I’d just line up by about 4:45 or so

    • Somehow we missed all these crowds when we went a few weeks ago. There was no line at all when we went on a Thursday around 9pm. We (a group of 7) were the only ones in the back part of the Mario bar, which was awesome, and stayed there without any crowding until midnight. Though it is gimmicky, the cocktails and atmosphere is just so fun and cool.

    • I showed up right before they opened on a Wednesday and got right in

  • So depressed to see them do this. The drinks at the first Christmas Bar were great, the drinks at the second Christmas Bar were okay but basically sugar bombs (which I figured was simply for the holidays), but this confirms the super sugar is not a one-time thing. Boo.

    The drinks at the old SE were easily the best in town and the generally quiet, laid-back vibe was wonderful. Can we get a reverse pop-up: pay them a few hundred bucks to let me and my friends drink good-quality stuff in peace and quiet for a night?

  • I think it is great – you don’t have to get the seasonal drink – they’ll make your favorite drink. We all complain that nothing is original anymore and that we are drowning in uninspired architecture and small plates. This is a wonderful change to all of that.
    Sure you standing in a line isn’t fun – but if you don’t want to, don’t – the wait is worth it for some and is a fun change of pace.

  • as a mom of 2, i wish had this kind of free time, although i don’t think i’d spend it waiting in line, but hey, whatever floats your boat

  • My husband and I got in line @ 3:45pm Saturday and there were 5 people ahead of us – by 4:00pm there were at least 40 people behind us. Pretty crazy, but it was a nice day and we grabbed coffees from Uprising Muffin Co. (not the worst way to spend an hour). It was a neat experience, the inside was so fun and pretty. Not all the drinks were superstars but I really enjoyed the I Call Yoshi! and the “As We Say in Brooklyn, Bonzai” was delicious (the world needs more sesame flavored cocktails). I get that it seems silly, but we thought it was a lovely way to spend a few hours before our dinner reservations that night.

  • Seriously, how long would it take that line to move? Isn’t there pretty limited seating inside that bar? (never been but it looks small in the photos.) Do they have a one drink policy to keep the line moving?