As the saying goes, “When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich.” Luckily for DC residents, there’s plenty to both eat and drink at Derek Brown’s oyster bar, Eat the Rich. Featuring both local oysters and a Chesapeake Bay-centric menu, Eat the Rich is a tribute to the great oyster houses of Washington, DC and Mid-atlantic cuisine. We spent the afternoon with Lauren Paylor, Head Bartender at Eat the Rich, to talk cocktails, locals, and a heavy metal band close to our own heart.
Tell us about yourself…
I started bartending a year and a half ago, but I’ve worked in different roles across the industry. I got into bartending by meeting Derek Brown, the owner here at Eat the Rich, through his brother Tom. I was intrigued by how passionate both the Brown brothers were about cocktails and food, but also extremely intimidated by it. I started out as a server in a few years back, then became the AGM and a bartender a year later, and made my transition to Head Bartender this year. DC is a great city for bartending, because there are so many passionate and talented people working here. They've all really inspired me and made it easy to fall in love with this industry.
What’s your favorite thing to drink? Favorite classic cocktail? Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?
My favorite thing to drink are Goses, a sour-style German beer. My favorite classic cocktail is an Old Fashioned, especially when it's made with PX Sherry in place of simple syrup. My favorite thing to drink when no one is looking is a nice, cold Coors Light and a shot of whiskey.
Tell us about your bar…
Eat the Rich is a heavy metal oyster bar located in Shaw, an up-and-coming neighborhood in Washington, DC. When you first walk in you'll more than likely hear Motörhead, Richmond’s own Gwar, or Guns N’ Roses playing on the speakers. We have a solid clientele, they always make it fun being behind the bar. Our customers mainly consist of people that live in the neighborhood, young adults, and heavy metal fans.
What’s the neighborhood like?
Shaw is lively, as there are a lot of restaurants located up and down 7th Street, Howard Theatre and the 9:30 Club are located fairly close, and U Street is just up the block. It is a residential and family-oriented neighborhood, but there is a huge population of young adults. You’ll see plenty of foot traffic up and down 7th Street on a typical Friday night.
What makes your bar unique?
Our locals-only Happy Hour is what makes us unique, as well as our focus on locally produced spirits, wine and food. We sell $1 oysters, food and drink specials. You really can’t find anything else like it in the city.
What’s your favorite part about working there?
My favorite part about working at Eat the Rich is the staff. I've worked at Eat the Rich in almost every position, and in each one I've always felt supported. The people I work with are some of my closest friends. They really push me to be the best that I am capable of being.
What’s a good night look like for you? What are people ordering?
A good night for me at Eat the Rich is a busy locals-only Happy Hour, where customers are enjoying each other's company and having a good time. You will see most of our customers ordering oysters, caviar, draft cocktails and pitcher cocktails at the bar.
Can you share a Belle Isle creation with us? What inspired it?
My cocktail, the RIC (Richmond International Airport), was inspired by the classic Aviation cocktail. I wanted to create something floral, yet simple, that would showcase Belle Isle Moonshine.
- 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Premium Moonshine
- ½ oz. Dolin Blanc
- ½ oz. Luxardo Maraschino
- ½ oz. Lemon
- ¼ oz. Rich simple syrup
- 1 barspoon Creme de Violette
Shake all ingredients, fine strain into a chilled coupe, and garnish with a brandied cherry.
Recipe by Lauren Paylor of Eat the Rich
Photos by Alex Kreher