Radiator, a cocktail bar and neighborhood gathering place featuring contemporary American small plates with global influences, will open on April 19 in Washington, D.C. Radiator nods to the spirit of its surroundings in both its name—a reference to 14thStreet’s rich automotive past—and lively, engaging experience. The bar is located adjacent to the new Mason & Rook Hotel.
“We’re embracing the shift toward unpretentious dining, while remaining mindful of quality and craft in both food and drink,” says lead bartender Sarah Rosner, who helms the beverage program. “Radiator is first and foremost a hangout spot for the neighborhood where you can grab fun, funky bar snacks or more composed large-format plates alongside your perfectly made cocktail.”
Keeping a firm grasp on the classics as a foundation, Radiator’s bar program leaves plenty of room to play and experiment. Rosner, who comes to Radiator with 15 years of experience at such acclaimed establishments as Copycat Co., Derek Brown’s Eat the Rich, and Jack Rose Dining Saloon, has designed a beverage selection that puts an original slant on time-honored cocktails, while highlighting a carefully curated range of whiskeys and off-the-beaten path spirits, as well as a discerning selection of local beers and wines. Her cheeky house creations include the Singani-based Bolivian Sage (muddled strawberry, fresh sage, lemon juice, house-made orgeat, and pineapple juice), the Rickey Goes to Hawaii (gin, li hing powder, lime, and soda), and the show-stopping Folk Art (muddled lime, mint leaves, Cynar, aged rum, green chartreuse, and pineapple juice), all accessibly priced in keeping with the laid-back neighborhood setting.
Food is central to the Radiator experience, and Executive Chef Jonathan Dearden, formerly of Ardeo + Bardeo, complements the liquid offerings with a menu of soulful, sophisticated dishes. Spanning snacks, sharable plates, and large-format items, Radiator’s culinary program presents a global perspective reflecting Dearden’s deep knowledge of Caribbean, Creole, French, and Pan-Asian cuisine. Highlights on the ambitious menu include Kimchi Pickles with Cucumber, Mango, and Jicama; Bacon Fat Fries with Smoked Sea Salt; Harissa-Roasted Romanesco with Black Bean Hummus and Cilantro Tabouleh; and Lamb Belly Tacos with Curried Chickpeas, Tzatziki, Feta, and Mint, an inventive riff on shawarma.
Set in a neighborhood once home to many mid-20thcentury car dealerships and auto repair shops, Radiator brings a historical point of view to its design with a strong use of industrial elements. The large, 57-seat bar area includes a communal table and is accented with rich woods and leather. A 23-seat lounge and private dining room includes several nooks where small groups can gather. The space is outfitted with playful diversions and games, such as backgammon, chess, Jenga, and life-sized Connect Four. During warmer months, guests can enjoy a 50-seat patio featuring a large fire pit and a shuffleboard court under a retractable mesh overhang. Conceived by D.C.’s award-winning GrizForm Design Architects, the space keeps an eye toward craftsmanship, ranging from large checkerboard floors to vintage car parts to displays of rare whiskeys.