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I’m Pretty Sure this is not an Elaborate Joke – “1920’s Themed Chaplin Cocktail Bar To Open This July”

by Prince Of Petworth June 11, 2014 at 10:25 am 51 Comments

1501 9th Street, NW formerly Mandalay Burmese restaurant which closed at 9th and P St, NW in May

From a press release:

“Mixologists and brothers Ari and Micah Wilder, along with their partners Armin Amin and Adrian Williams, are pleased to announce the July anticipated opening of Chaplin Cocktail Bar at 1501 9th Street, NW. Chaplin is a nod to Sir Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin, an English actor, comedian and filmmaker who rose to fame in the silent era. The restaurant will showcase cocktails from the 1920’s with a unique, handcrafted twist. Chaplin will serve Monday through Thursday from 4 PM to 12 AM; Friday from 4 PM to 1 AM; Saturday from 12 Noon to 1 AM, and Sunday from 12 Noon to 12 AM.

Ari and Micah Wilder have a rich mixology background with 29 years of combined experience. While Micah was opening cocktail bars throughout San Francisco, his younger brother Ari was following his lead in Washington, DC. Then, in 2008, Micah joined his brother in the nation’s capital to found Wilder Bros LLC, a cocktail consulting company. The dynamic duo created over a dozen cocktail programs throughout the city since launching their company. They also opened their first venture together, Fed Restaurant in May, 2013 and supply cocktail programs throughout the city with their proprietary mixers and lost ingredients.

The cocktails at Chaplin will be influenced and named after Charlie Chaplin’s comedic films. Standouts include the Gold Rush, Champagne, Montenegro amaro, peach liqueur, peach bitters and golden flake; The Tramp, rye whiskey, Bénédictine, Peychaud’s bitters and burned orange peel; The Vagabond, Tom Cat gin, blanc vermouth, lemon bitters and tonic; The Pilgrim, Genever, Crème de Violet, ginger beer and lime; Lime Light, vodka, Leopold’s apple liqueur, green apple soda and lime vin; Sunny Side, made from a combination of three rums, orange Curaçao, cherry liqueur, Peychaud’s bitter and pineapple with citrus; By The Sea, Speyside scotch, Porto, apricot liqueur, Champagne and lemon, and the Laughing Gas, Blue Coat gin, blackberry liqueur and lemon laughing gas soda, which is made combining helium to their house-made soda to create laughter while imbibing. Cocktails are priced at $10 each.

Design and fabrication agency SwatchRoom will be responsible for the interior scheme for Chaplin. The two story, 83-seat dining room will be enveloped by the nostalgia of a flickering black and white cinematic experience. The space will feature layers of antiquated textures and artifacts from film and entertainment. Bold accents of rich gold and reds can be found throughout the space leading to the private Opium Den located on the second floor. Additionally, an expansive 80-seat outdoor patio “Piano Bar” will be available during the spring and summer months, and is sure to become a neighborhood gathering place.”

Image via Chaplin Restaurant’s website

  • Ronald

    Oh god. Three things:

    1. That press release needs some punctuation. Took me four times to realize they were listing drink names and ingredients, and not just every bottle in the bar.

    2. I’m sure there’s probably some copyright lawyer on retainer to the Chaplin family who will be all over this.

    3. This concept will get tiresome really quickly. Over/Under: 6 months.

    • textdoc

      +1 on the need for punctuation. They did use semicolons, which is good, but they needed parentheses too in order to distinguish the drink names from the drink ingredients.
      And +1 on this being rather suspect copyright-wise.

  • AG

    A 20s inspired cocktail bar would be a fun, ,sophisticated, interesting concept (a little overdone in other cities, but not so much here), but getting into the whole Chaplin thing just makes this place seem kitschy.

    • Los


      A speakeasy with flappers and all that jazz would be fun.

    • djdc

      RIP Temperance Hall

  • Anonymous

    Opium Den?

    • Anonymous

      yea, thats what got me lol

    • textdoc

      I skimmed too quickly — I see now that’s actually in the press release. What the heck??

  • jim_ed

    I hope they spend too much effort honoring Chaplin’s role in ‘The Great Dictator’ and the bar ends up looking like a gathering space for Hitler enthusiasts.

    • textdoc

      Cola on monitor!
      (Well, very nearly.)

    • Anonymous

      The “Beer Hall Putsch” theme didn’t pass muster.

  • Wtf are lost ingredients?

    • ash

      Helium, obvy. But seriously, I had to read that thing 3 times and I’m still sitting at my desk like “huh?”

    • textdoc

      Dunno, but they should pair them with “found objects.”

      • +1 the ultimate Lost & Found speakeasy, effectively vibe driven.

    • Anonymous

      “Honey, where are the cocktail cherries? For the life of me, I can’t find them anywhere!”

  • Emilie504

    No rotgut moonshine? I’m disappointed.

  • $10 cocktails? That part has me intrigued.
    Silly gimmicks like laughing gas in my drink? Not so much.

    • textdoc

      And as far as I can tell, it’s not even “laughing gas” as in nitrous oxide (which would probably be illegal for a bar to dispense anyway), but soda that’s carbonated with helium, so when you drink it your voice gets all squeaky and makes others in your party laugh.
      I think.

      • Oops, you’re right, they’re using helium. Either way, I put it on par with the dumb gimmicks like liquid nitrogen drinks (though those can actually injury you). I would rather the drinks be made to taste good than to get press.

      • Does that stuff really work? I’ve never actually tried it.

        • textdoc

          Never tried it either, and I’m a bit puzzled — it seems like you’d need to inhale the helium to get a squeaky voice out of it, but if you’re drinking something with helium in it, wouldn’t it just go to your stomach?
          Maybe they announced the “concept” for this drink before actually test-driving it. ;)

        • Anon

          You’ve never inhaled helium from a balloon? It’s hilarious.

          • Nope, I’ve never been presented with the opportunity.

      • Beau

        If you’re going to swallow helium, rather than breathe it, you’ll have gas, rather than a squeaky voice.

        • Petworthy

          Yep- just like all those crazy kids getting uncontrollable gas from drinking that newfangled carbonated “soda pop”. I’ll never try Pepsi or Coca-Cola for that reason.

  • Formerly Broken Jaw

    Shareable small spoons in the Opium den.

    • Anonymous

      dark side of the spoon

      • textdoc

        Actual LOL.

  • Anonymous

    Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin, an English actor, comedian, filmmaker and pedophile.

    Between this and Red light bar nod to 14th St. history of street prostitution drug violence are we running out ideas on bar themes?

    • Anonymous

      We don’t have a crack epidemic-themed bar yet.
      I hope these guys have cleared the name with the controllers of the Charlie Chaplin estate, because his name and likeness aren’t exactly in the public domain.

    • It’s no coincidence these guys designed the drinks for Red Light as well.

  • Anonymous

    I hope it’s like Chaplin’s films: silent.

  • wasn’t it supposed to be another asian restaurant? maybe I’m thinking of another place…?

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, the initial announcement was that a Chinese restaurant would be taking over. Too bad. This concept sounds ridiculous.

    • Anonymous

      that’s what they first mentioned a while back, but maybe plans changed?

      • textdoc

        Perhaps the only remaining element is the opium den.

    • Anonymous

      No, you’re correct. It was originally supposed to be dim sum.

    • Anonymous

      was it supposed to be Charlie Chan themed?

      • Formerly Broken Jaw


  • Charlie (not Chaplin)

    I thought they said an Asian dim sum shop would open when Mandalay closed . . . . . . . .

  • Laurie

    Can’t believe Mandalay has opened and closed already. Too bad.

  • Bnon

    “Chaplin is a nod to Sir Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin, an English actor, comedian and filmmaker who rose to fame in the silent era.”

    Thanks for elucidating…

  • kook47797

    These guys had a “cocktail consulting company”? Who knew. Much respect for pulling that off. $10 cocktails actually seem like a bargain in DC now and a piano bar option would be nice to have in the area. That flickering black and white cinematic background could get real annoying real quick though.

  • Alan

    Anything honoring Chaplin is kind of cool. Comic genius, legend, and co-founder of United Artists. I still need to watch his biopic, this reminded me to add it to Netflix!

  • Anon
  • The Dude

    Don’t know what to make of that… but can we get a reasonably priced restaurant in here please? Preferably Asian?

    I’m not going to drop $70 for a 5 course meal, or $10 for a speak-easy cocktail hardly ever… but bring in good $10-$15 entrees, and I can promise you I’ll be in (or doing carry out) about monthly dropping $60+ each time with the family.

  • Chelsea

    I am so excited for this!


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