Passing by, you’d likely miss For Rent, the new K Street cocktail bar that just opened its doors last week. For those lucky enough to discover the cleverly disguised spot, a parallel universe exists behind the hidden door. The subtle “For Rent” sign in the window deceives as it looks more like an advertisement to attract potential tenants, than patrons for a cocktail bar. I graciously accepted the invitation to check out this fascinating new destination.
The Movers and the Shakers
Previously, the basement bar was The Speak which boarded up its doors after issues arose from operating without a proper liquor license. Jermaine Jones took over and transformed the space into a quirky lounge. The lounge was conceptualized by the premise that the space was available “for rent.” The original sign signaling its vacancy still stands. For Rent is the second bar owned by Jones, along with Vieux Carre, the New Orleans-inspired bar upstairs. Jesse Raines, the decorated beverage director developed the cocktail program. Previously, Raines worked for Bacardi, LivingSocial, and as a senior mixologist at Founding Farmers. Joining forces, For Rent creates affordable craft cocktails mixed with 90s tunes in a vintage atmosphere.
While we sipped cocktails during happy hour, we did notice that the lounge picks up around 9 p.m. For Rent undoubtedly brings a laid-back vibe back to K Street in comparison to its neighbors. The door, notably missing handles, leads you to a cozy room, furnished with items purchased on Craigslist. The sitting room is lined with rugs, a bookshelf, lamps, and velvet seating that transforms you to a friend’s house from your childhood. A cork board prominently hangs with classifieds of the cocktails and invites guests to leave their mark or post listings. Old school board games and re-purposed furniture makes it accessible and inviting. If you’re looking for pretension, you won’t find it here as a dress code is not enforced and reservations are not necessary.
Is This Seat Taken?
I spent the evening catching up with my best gal pals over cocktails before the holidays in a setting that couldn’t be any more ideal. Jen and Manisha reveled in 90s hip hop while sitting on plush velvet couches noshing on charcuterie. For Rent is the perfect destination for happy hours, late nights and first dates as it’s surely a conversation starter from the moment you step inside the street entrance. Whether you’re looking for intimate conversation or a dance party, you’ll likely find it here.
The Craigslist-inspired cocktail menu consists of “D.C. Neighborhood” themed drinks, which highlight the city’s unique corridors and range from $10-$13. Our cocktails were complemented by a charcuterie board filled with soppressata, spicy salami, aged gruyere, Manchego, and a sampling of nuts, olives, quince paste, and herbed goat cheese.
To no one’s surprise, I started with the Southwest, which calls for gin, Italian bitters, passionfruit, and lemon juice. The bright cocktail came in a coupe cocktail glass and quenched my thirst immediately. It was a strong drink in both citrus flavor and alcohol content, but it worked well together.
As a whiskey girl, Jen was amped to try the K Street which truly captures the essence of its namesake. Whiskey, Vermouth, and two types of smoke are incorporated to play off the smoke and mirrors facade often found on K Street. Jen was intrigued by both the physical and liquid smoke served tableside and poured into the clever concoction.
The most expensive cocktail on the menu is appropriately titled the Palisades, after one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in D.C. A champagne cocktail containing lemon, vodka, elderflower liqueur, and simple syrup was served with a half bottle of bubbly for $40.
Manisha was intrigued by the Anacostia, which seemed like an appropriate winter drink. Bourbon, calvados, and apple-ginger syrup brought her to a very happy place. I decided to also try the U Street, a blend of cognac, triple sec, simple syrup and angostura. From the first sip, I knew this was not a decision I would regret. At this point we were beginning to feel the effects from these delicious, but powerful libations.
We were intrigued upon arrival and sought solace in the hidden basement bar with killer craft cocktails and the classifieds.
1413 K St., NW.
Washington, D.C. 20005