Daru - DC's New Indian Cocktail Bar
Planning to open in Maypril (May/April) on H Street, Daru is a unique Indian spiced soon-to-be cocktail bar created by Chef Suresh Sundas and barman Dante Datta formerly part of the opening team at Rasika West End eight years ago.
The pop-up event at the Green Zone on January 27th opened at 6:00 pm, and there were lines out the door when I arrived at 6:15. Incredible!
Luckily, it wasn’t too cold and the queue goers were offered peanuts, and the menu of the night was distributed amongst the dedicated fans. Indian inspired cocktails and snacks were the appetizing items on the menu, very unique to DC. Yes, there are some Indian restaurants, but none offering interesting drinks or spicy duck kebab. On the food side, they did provide the option of the typical Indian food which Americans love: garlic naan and chicken tikka masala, but with a flair.
After munching on some peanuts, reading the menu five times deciding what to get and making friends with strangers in line, I finally got into the small two-story venue twenty minutes later. The ground floor, which held the bar, was tiny and overcrowded with people slowly and unsuccessfully trying to push their way towards the front of the bar to order one of the intriguing Indian flavoured cocktails.
The game plan was for people to order drinks and food at the bar downstairs, and then make their way upstairs to gather. But of course there were too many people standing at the bar, and not that many who made the trek up a few stairs. What is puzzling is that there was a bar upstairs, but no drinks were served. Very inefficient.
Nevertheless, I managed to get one drink, (could have had more if it weren’t for the wait) the Kali Cooler with Rhum and Black Cardamom Soda as well as a spicy duck kebab. I was excited about the Black Cardamom Soda in the cocktail, and while it tasted delightful, I didn’t feel the Indian zing from the cardamom I was hoping for. The spicy duck on the other hand was fireworks in my mouth. Perfectly cooked, with the right amount of spices. Made for an Indian - I loved it! Although I was not too enthused by the Indian flair of the Kali Cooler, I sipped a few other drinks and pecked at some other people's snacks. From my sampling, I thoroughly enjoyed the Hari Daiquiri, and buckwheat pakoras. Such an ingenious mix of flavors. Many of the drinks, true to the Indian style had whiskey, which does not tickle my fancy, but produced rave reviews all around.
In spite of the long lines, waits and stuffy bar, the pop-up bar was a brilliant success.
Mouthwatering food and drinks, unique to the area, enjoyable and very popular. As I was leaving much later, there was still a line to get in. That’s a true sign of success. I’m excited to see whether another pop-up bar brightens our Monday and am counting down the days until Maypril for the real deal to open.
Mark your calendars and follow Daru.dc on Instagram for updates.