When Anxo Cidery opened their first restaurant and bar on Florida Avenue last summer, they were Washington, DC’s first licensed winery to open since Prohibition, and the premier spot in the city to find ciders sourced from around the world. Now they’ve opened a second location in Brightwood Park—a tasting room with 10 times the fermentation capacity so customers can taste the house ciders straight from the source.
To help transport guests into the heart of the cidermaking process from the barstool, the 1,000-gallon stainless steel fermentation tanks and 660-gallon Italian wooden aging barrels are fully on display in the 13-seat urban tasting room. “Our style is definitely industrial, which is perfect for a tasting room inside a working cidery,” says co-owner and director of operations, Sam Fitz. “A touch of greenery and the elaborate wooden bar top tone down the industrial look a bit, hopefully enticing guests to stay a while.”
Visitors will find the same great Basque-style food at the new bar, in addition to housemade ciders (cidermaker Greg Johnson, a veteran of Virtue Cider, will join the team this year to make his mark on the house style), Spanish wine, vermouth, sherry and cider cocktails on tap. The design of the new tasting room was lead by bestudio founder Michael Blake, who was responsible for the original Florida Avenue location. Blake says that because the two locations opened within a year of each another, he wanted the cidery to feel like an extension of the original restaurant, so he used similar materials.
Located in a former warehouse, some of the original elements, like the concrete floors and exposed brick, were kept intact, but boarded-up windows were opened and replaced with steel frame windows for light and a connection to the outdoors. The garage doors open during good weather, and an alleyway converted into a small patio helps expand the footprint.
Beyond the obvious ties to the building’s industrial past and its current use as a working cidery, Blake turned to the wineries in his wife’s hometown of Mendoza, Argentina for further inspiration. “A bottle of Malbec becomes so much more meaningful when you experience the bodega that it came from, and it’s always most delicious in the tasting room surrounded by the sights and smells of the production process,” he explains. “One of my favorite places is the cellar at Bodega Salentein, where hundreds of barrels surround a lone piano in a dramatically lit, sunken amphitheater. The barrels take on a sculptural presence and the entire space is filled with a sense of anticipation, waiting for either the wine to ferment or the pianist to begin.”
Blake and Fitz agree on the design element they love the most: the cider casks. “They’re such beautiful pieces of equipment and their scale makes the space feel special,” Blake says. “[We wanted] guests to feel like they were getting the backstage experience, sort of like a chef’s table in a restaurant.”
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