Partners Aaron Gordon, Robert Underwood, and brothers Ari and Micah Wilder, are joining forces to open Red Light, Cocktails & Dessert Bar at 1401 R St. NW. The name gives a playful nod to 14 Street’s colorful past as a red light district in the nation’s capital. Those wishing to visit this libation haven, which will also have a show-stopping dessert menu, can anticipate an April opening. The collaborative efforts will also result in imaginative sweets with potent spirits, taking ‘boozy desserts’ to a new level. Red Light will serve nightly and also feature weekend brunch, a perfect date spot and to gather with friends.
“Distinctive craft cocktails and inspired desserts in a fun, relaxed bar will be the ideal complement to 14th St. – DC’s top restaurant destination,” says Gordon. “Who doesn’t love delicious chocolate and Champagne?”
Gordon tapped Robert Underwood as executive chef for Red Light. Underwood was previously the head pastry chef at award-winning Komi and Marcel’s in Washington, DC. His menu at Red Light will offer ten desserts changing daily, reflecting the season, and a featured soufflé. Opening selections planned include Soufflé of the Moment–white chocolate Grand Marnier; Pistachio Tea Cakes–with local strawberry jam and lavender gelato; Abuelita’s Tres Leches–with toasted coconut cake and Zapaca rum; Black & Tan Donuts–ale batter beignets with a chocolate stout filling; and a Quinoa BrûléePudding–with caramelized bananas and spicy candied cashews.
The cocktail menu and wine list is being developed by the talented Wilder brothers, who will serve as Red Light’s beverage directors. Since 2008, when they founded Wilder Bros LLC, they have created over a dozen successful cocktail programs and opened Fed Restaurant in May, 2013. Their innovative list for Red Light will include a selection of eight to 12 specialty drinks, as well as ‘adult’ desserts that combine cocktail and dessert ingredients for a spirited treat. Red Light’s upcoming list will include the Riverstone Slush–ice wine with seasonal nectar, shaved river stone ice, and winter fruit; the Double Down–Buffalo Trace Bourbon, rose bitters, B grade maple syrup, Ruby Red grapefruit, and lime; andthe Cake Shake–Red Velvet cupcake, homemade ice cream, Atlantico dark rum, Velvet Felernum, and cocoa bitters. The menu will also offer a boutique wine selection as well as eight to ten Champagnes by-the-glass, including four Champagnes on-tap.
Design studio SwatchRoom is responsible for the scheme for Red Light. The intimate 27-seat interior will have ‘love-nest’ seating options of red leather banquettes and club chairs for lingering plus a sprinkling of two and four top tables. Guest can grab a stool at the dramatic concrete 18-person bar and see the chefs in action at the display pastry bar. The seasonal 44-seat outdoor patio will be the destination gathering place with its warm and inviting environment featuring communal, cocktail and lounge seating.
“The contemporary design for Red Light will call back to the dangerous and salacious history of 14th Street, a dessert lounge and a place where the edge of rock & roll is juxtaposed to classic romance through color palette, found objects, and sensual textures,” says Warren Weixler, co-owner of SwatchRoom. “The design will illuminate the natural allure of voyeurism and the intoxicating art of the performance; specifically preparing craft cocktails and delectable desserts.”