Wednesday night I was graciously invited by Erik Holzherr (owner of one of We Love DC’s favorite bars, Wisdom) to a preview of his new bar, Fruit Bat. Located on H Street NE between 12th and 13th, in the spot formerly occupied by the H Street Martini Lounge, my first impression is that it will quickly become a favorite of Atlas District locals, and certainly is worth the trip for those of us in other parts of the city. Tonight is the official opening; here’s a taste of what you can expect.
Erik is part Colombian, and he wanted to give Fruit Bat a relaxed Latin American feel. The most striking feature of the long narrow room lined with simple tables and a bar is the “living wall” that will develop organically as time goes by. Hung on the exposed brick wall are staghorn ferns mounted on wooden boards with grow lights. They’re just babies now but I can imagine how amazingly lush they will make the space as they grow. Fresh herbs are also grown behind the bar and fruit is everywhere. The scent of fried plaintains drove me mad. It all adds to the tropical feel – I think Hemingway and his daiquiri would’ve been right at home.
Speaking of drinks, as you would expect from the owner of Wisdom the craft cocktail menu at Fruit Bat is thoughtfully delicious.
You can go several ways with drinks at Fruit Bat. Dive into a craft cocktail menu featuring quirkily named libations like the Columbian Necktie (freshly squeezed orange juice with anise-flavored aguardiente). Or indulge in some smoothies which will change up weekly – Wednesday featured a luscious honeydew and banana blend. Alcoholic smoothies are a great idea for the summer, and I’m sure Erik will come up with an appropriate warming switch when winter hits.
You can also work with your bartender to come up with your own cocktail based on freshly squeezed fruit juices and several infused spirits. Or, try the infusions straight up. Next to the bar is a little shelf where you can continue the personalization process by adding flavors to taste – like agave nectar and cinnamon. It all fits the laid-back casual nature of Fruit Bat. I loved the pineapple cardamom infused rum straight up (yes, it was that kind of week, dear reader), and other options that night included cherry vodka with cucumber, and tequila with watermelon and thyme. I’m eager to see what other infusions will be on bar as the seasons change.
Bar bites will focus on Latin American street food. I tore into a queso blanco pupusa that was just the right combination of, well, salty cheesy bready goodness. A side of pickled spicy slaw was just the thing to cleanse my palate and leave me craving more. Sadly I missed out on the fried plaintains whose amazing aroma tempted me upon entering, but there’s always next time.
And since Fruit Bat is all about a casual, friendly vibe with an accent on fresh fruit and refreshing combinations, there will definitely be a next time for me.
Fruit Bat is located at 1236 H Street NE. For more information call (202) 399-2323.