During the 1920s, Washington, DC found itself at the center of prohibition. While "dry" crusaders pushed for prohibition laws on Capitol Hill, just a few blocks away some of the most popular speakeasies of the decade were setting up shop to keep the booze flowing through our nation's veins. Fast-forward to today, and you will find one place still keeping the tradition alive.
Beuchert's Saloon is named after John Ignatius Beuchert, a German immigrant and prominent Capitol Hill businessman who, as legend has it, operated a speakeasy in the same location where the restaurant still stands today.
We stopped by Beuchert's Saloon to hear from General Manager and Beverage Director Ed Howard on how this speakeasy-turned-modern day mainstay maintains their incredible history on Capitol Hill by offering a dining and drinking experience rich with local and fresh ingredients that offer a creative twist on American fare.
Tell us about yourself…
I’ve been bartending for about 10 years now. I got into it because I had already worked every position in a few restaurants, from serving, hosting, food running, and bussing to managing. I even worked in the kitchen on a few stations when needed. But as soon as I got behind the bar, I knew it was for me. To me it had a very natural flow.
What do you do when you’re not bartending? Any hobbies/side jobs/secret identities?
I like knocking new restaurants off of my "must try” list, traveling, and experiencing new things. If I had a secret identity, I would be a mix between Victor Krum from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Idris Elba. Oh, and my name would be Lance.
What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
My brother, Rock Harper, was the Season 3 winner of Hell's Kitchen.
What’s your favorite thing to drink? Favorite classic cocktail? Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?
Favorite drink is a shot and a grapefruit raddler. A Painkiller or a Naked N' Famous is the best classic cocktail. When no one’s looking, I’ll sneak a Long Island Iced Tea, but with Fernet instead of Coke.
Tell us about your bar…
Beuchert's Saloon has a very laid back, speakeasy feel. We’re located in probably the best neighborhood in Washington, DC. We’ve got a very loyal and friendly group of people here on the Hill.
What makes your bar unique?
Consistency and service. Every bartender here is passionate about their craft and understands that service is key. We can craft a cocktail based upon your tastes if you don't see anything on the menu. It is truly a gift.
What’s your favorite part about working there?
My favorite part is the family aspect of the place. Guests become regulars, and regulars become close friends. The same applies to the staff. Usually everyone here starts out as co-workers, but then ends up finding a friend for life. This makes working together easy and fun! Also, when we learn something new, we get very excited and apply it right away - either through educating the guest or applying a new technique to a cocktail.
What’s a good night look like for you? What are people ordering?
A good night consists of people going off-menu, testing our bartenders' knowledge and skills, and ending up with a mind-blowing product.
What’s your favorite menu item / cocktail pairing?
The Roseda Farms Top Sirloin paired with our Beltway Boy (Rye, Amaro, Aperol, Peychauds Bitters, absinthe spray).
Can you share a Belle Isle creation with us? What inspired it?
The High Moon at Noon was inspired by our 3-year anniversary. For the 3rd year of an anniversary you are to give leather, so we went with a western-style cocktail list and food menu. High Moon at Noon just came to me and I had to have a cocktail on the menu containing moonshine. The rest is history!
Photos by Alex Kreher
- 2 oz. Belle Isle Premium Moonshine
- ¾ oz. lime juice
- 1 oz. blueberry shrub*
- Blueberry “caviar”
Combine all ingredients into a shaker, shake, and strain over ice. Garnish with a spoonful of blueberry caviar and lime zest on top.
*Recipe for Blueberry shrub
2 quarts sugar
2 quarts water
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 cup champagne vinegar
Simmer and crush 1 quart sugar, 1 quart water, and blueberries. Then add the additional quart of sugar and water, along with champagne vinegar. Boil all ingredients together, then strain and let cool.
Recipe by Ed Howard of Beuchert's Saloon