Allegory wraparound mural depicting Ruby Bridges in an “Alice in Wonderland” world. Photos by David Tran.
Allegory, the speakeasy-style bar hidden behind a wall of books in DC’s downtown Eaton’s Hotel, reopened last August after a long pandemic shutdown. While the dimly lit lounge’s drink menu has always been ever-changing, its latest iteration might be its most ambitious. The volume inspired by children’s books has 23 pages, has a title (down the rabbit hole), and is divided into 12 chapters, just like Alice in Wonderland.
It’s filled with custom artwork by DC artist Erik Thor Sandberg, who is also behind the bar’s decorative focal point: a mural depicting childhood civil rights figure Ruby Bridges on a mystical journey, struggling Wonderland monster the Jabberwocky. Bridges, at age 6, was the first black child to enter an elementary school in Louisiana.
Head bartender Deke Dunne oversees the drinks, which were inspired by Sandberg’s mural and Bridges’ artwork. “It’s the story of someone who is super powerful and we really want to dig deeper,” he says. “We try to put the guests in his place: how would you be at the age of six in a chaotic and frightening world like this? Think about racism and where does it come from?
Dunne’s “Looking Glass” cocktail is a fusion of vodka soda and Japanese highball, which is topped with a champagne/lime sorbet. There are classics like mai tai, Ramos gin fizz and margarita. And some drinks showcase the personal backgrounds of other Allegory bartenders. Princess Johnson’s ‘Crow from Tobago’ is a bold tropical blend of gin, rye, carrot juice, lime and curry from Trinidad. Julio Zavala from El Salvador plays on a jungle bird with his “Jabberwocky Part Dos”, made with whiskey juice, nance and jocote (fruits found in El Salvador), coffee-infused amaro and Salvadoran cocoa and pineapple juice.
The cocktails will be available for six months, after which Dunne hopes to partner with a new artist.
Allegory to Eaton DC. 1201 K St. Northwest.