Last night I braved the serious chill and stomped my frozen legs over to American Ice Co. to warm up at their soft opening. It only took a few minutes to defrost with a perfect Vieux Carre cocktail at the marble bar, courtesy of one of my favorite bartenders, Patrick Owens. This lowkey spot has been hotly anticipated (as it’s co-owned by Joe Reza with Eric and Ian Hilton, giving it Midas touch credentials). The official opening is this Thursday, December 16, after which American Ice Co. will be open at 5pm seven days at week. If last night was any indication, it will fast become my go-to neighborhood bar. Here’s a quick peek at what to expect!
With layers of paint scrubbed from brick walls and industrial details like exposed piping and stark wooden booths, you wouldn’t think it would be as inviting as it turns out to be. But the intoxicating smell of BBQ permeates the place and there’s a seductive amber glow. Besides the long marble bar and several booths, there are also strategically placed wooden counters to perch at, a really welcome touch for a spot that’s bound to get crowded.
In addition to a few drafts, twelve beers are available by the can (listed as “Metal” on a chalkboard above the bar) including Bellhaven, Konig, Strongbow, and 21st Black. Plans for batching cocktails in mason jars with about three options a night are in the works, a really fun idea echoed in the mini mason jars used to serve liquor neat.
Patrick explained that all food is made in house, from the pickles to the slaw, with the BBQ being smoked daily in the afternoon a few blocks away (delivered by pushcart bike!). I sampled a few items and was convinced I’ll be hitting it for dinner as well as drinks. Normally I hate pickles but here you have two options that changed my mind they were so good. I ate the entire crunchy salty one and loved the sweet bread-and-butter pickles as well. The BBQ will probably be the big draw – to this Yankee girl’s untrained tastebuds, the pulled pork shoulder was ridiculously edible, meaty fatty goodness with a nice tang to the sauce. There’s also smoked turkey, chips and chili con queso.
No doubt the outside patio, sheltered from the street, will be killer next year when we all defrost again. Though there have been neighborhood worries expressed about noise, friends who live at the nearby Rhapsody say they are “more excited than a four-year-old at Christmas.” Me too. The eastern stretch of U Street has taken longer to develop, and the more great options like this within a few blocks of my house, the happier I will be.
American Ice Co. is located at 917 V Street NW, Washington DC 20001. Closest Metro stop: U Street/Cardozo (Green/Yellow lines).