Artisan spirits and historic accents make up the foundation of the collaborative hospitality project slowly taking shape behind the soon-to-be reopened doors at 319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.
Stanton & Greene, the three-story, 180-seat restaurant expected to replace the Pour House/Top of the Hill construct that shuttered last April, is an experiment in upscale boozing. The powers that be behind Sonoma and Beuchert’s Saloon — which is formally reviewed in Roll Call's inaugural dining guide — have joined forces to carve out something different for the neighborhood: a serious drinking spot.
“We’re trying to be to cocktails what Sonoma is to wine,” partner August Paro told CQ Roll Call. That objective does not, however, include setting the bar so high “that you can’t just roll into happy hour and get a great drink.” According to Sonoma principal Eli Hengst, creating this new space is all about paying homage to local history.
In a statement announcing the forthcoming venue, Hengst et al. note the name is a mashup of the two figures immortalized in a nearby park: former Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, the Civil War figure for whom the park is named, and revolutionary war hero Gen. Nathanael Greene, whose statue surveys the park at the intersection of Massachusetts and Maryland avenues in Northeast Capitol Hill.
"The inspiration for the name comes from these two American figures who are linked across the centuries in the park as close neighbors," Hengst said in the release. "It's the kind of historical footnote that's unique to Capitol Hill and D.C. and we hope Stanton & Greene evokes the same sense of place."
Paro, a Beuchert’s vet, said once the restaurateurs saw the Pour House spot was available, they pounced on the opportunity to have some fun.
“There was just a lot of potential for events and what we feel is lacking in this part of the neighborhood,” he said.
The missing element? A head-turning perch from which to properly pickle one's liver.
“Our main focus is making a great cocktail bar,” Paro said of the central mission.
Wisdom owner Erik Holzherr has been tasked with creating two sets of tippling opportunities: a program highlighting classic 20th century cocktails and a handful of signature drinks distinct from other local bar offerings.
“We’re trying not to jump on any bandwagons in terms of craft or mixology,” Paro said, signaling a reluctance to over-think what goes in each glass. The goal, rather, is to strike a balance between artisan imbibing and the classic Capitol Hill hangout.
“We’d really like it if staffers could rub elbows with senators,” Paro said, noting that crowding the menu with $12-plus drinks is not anyone’s idea of a good time.
And while the crew digs dive bars — “We’re patrons of Cap Lounge. And I was really bummed when Lil’ Pub got sold,” Paro said — Stanton & Greene is all about stepping up the drinking game on the Hill.
“We’re talking about how to make it accessible. We’ll probably have it tiered,” he said of the shared desire to keep the carefully concocted beverages within discretionary spending limits.
For the moment, the only level anticipated to enjoy dedicated table service will be the main floor. The area, which Paro painted as having a pre-World War I vibe, is expected to be appointed with a marble-topped bar, leather booths, tile floors and clover-patterned designs incorporated into the ceiling.
The upstairs will be reserved for private parties and group functions, though Paro is inclined to open it for general use when not formally booked. The new owners have retained the open layout, installed a 24-foot long, 12-foot high bar and updated the light fixtures.
“We’ve done our best to clean it up and reveal its true beauty,” Paro said of the natural, light-collecting expanse.
The plan is to develop an autonomous bar concept in the basement, but that motif will depend on how the second floor lounge plays out. “We definitely have plans for it,” Paro said of the subterranean lair. “We’re just waiting to see what direction we’re going in.”
Sonoma Executive Chef Josh Hutter and Chef de Cuisine Damian Brown are on the hook to provide sustenance for all three floors.
“It’s American classics,” Paro said of the closely guarded carte said to include a gourmet burger (custom grind of grass-fed beef from two local farms), as well as other locally inspired, organically sourced fare.
The restaurant, which Paro projects should open in the coming weeks, will roll out dinner service first, with happy hour specials expected to flow from 4 to 6 p.m. Lunch, Paro suggested, should follow shortly thereafter. Brunch is also in the cards.
Stanton & Greene: 319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE; stantonandgreene.com
Related: Roll Call's Nom, Nom, Nom-nibus: Allocating Your Dining Dollars The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.