ABOUT COLUMBIA ROOM
Columbia Room is a cocktail bar created by Derek Brown, where the ingredients, techniques and lore of cocktails merge together to create a memorable experience. We focus on exceptional service and meticulously crafted cocktails paired with food. But, in the end, our bar is about people— the people who make the ingredients, drinks and, especially, those who drink them.
At Columbia Room we have three distinct spaces—our Tasting Room, Spirits Library and Punch Garden. Seats at the Tasting Room are ticketed and we offer two menus: a three course and five course menu of cocktails paired with snacks. Our Spirits Library and Punch Garden are open seating at tables, though space is limited. At the Spirits Library, we offer one-of-a-kind spirits as well as classic and original cocktails à la carte, along with a selection of snacks. Our Punch Garden is outdoors and serves carefully crafted punches and bottled cocktails.
We hope you’ll join us for a drink.
COLUMBIA ROOM: where we've been
Derek Brown created Columbia Room to showcase the cocktail, to delve into the minutiae of its history, techniques, ingredients and presentation. We wanted to show that a well made cocktail is one of the greatest American inventions and part of our culinary heritage. Eschewing the overly simplistic pre-Prohibition trends or modernist cocktails, we wanted to use whatever tools possible—past or present—to create beautifully made, hand crafted cocktails. That extended to building a special room within The Passenger, selecting vintage glassware, curating the music and adding small plates paired to the drink; more “fine sipping” than “speakeasy.”
Our influences were diverse but we found that one of our major influences came from an unlikely place—Japan. When Derek traveled to Japan in 2009, he was in awe of the meticulously made drinks, high level of service and earnestness of the bartenders. Japanese bartenders were originally trained by American bartenders of the late 19th century and those Japanese trainees, in turn, passed their trade down to other bartenders at “American” bars. This created an unbroken chain of succession, since Japan never experienced Prohibition, retaining many customs of America’s “Golden Age of Bartending” (1860s to 1919). These Japanese bars also added elements of ritual and craft unique to Japanese culture. Enthralled by what he experienced, Derek took a seminar with one of Japan’s greatest bartenders Kazuo Uyeda, where he absorbed some of Japan's much lauded techniques—such as carving ice diamonds and the famous “hard shake”—and was eager to apply them.
However, Derek’s greatest influence remained his own experience as a sommelier and bar manager at D.C.-area top restaurants and bars. He understood that what makes a great restaurant or bar is the aspect of discovery—for guests to find that incredible cocktail or special spirit. For guests to not just be treated well and receive excellent drinks, but to hear the stories behind the bottles and connect to the people who made the spirits, learning their provenance and their history. Drinkers wanted more from their spirits and cocktails, just as they were demanding more from sommeliers and chefs. What they wanted was an experience and that's what we set out to create. Because of it, we’ve been lucky to be consistently included as one of the top bars in the country, rated 3-stars by Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema and twice James Beard-nominated. Clearly we’ve done something right, but we feel like we're just getting started.
COLUMBIA ROOM, 124 BLAGDEN ALLEY NW, WASHINGTON, D.C. 20001 (202)316-9396