Mistletoe hangs above the bar at Maxwell Park Navy Yard’s Christmas bar. Photograph courtesy Brent Kroll.
Adriana Salame Aspiazu has built a reputation for herself as DC’s Christmas Bar Queen. She was previously one of the designers behind the over-the-top decor at the city’s most popular Christmas pop-up bar, Miracle on Seventh Street (along with Drink Company’s other themed pop-ups, from cherry blossoms to Game of Thrones). That venue, sadly, is now long gone, but Salame Aspiazu will be bringing the holiday spirit—and all the tinsel you can handle—to a handful of other bars this year, beginning with Navy Yard wine bar Maxwell Park.
Salame Aspiazu says she’d been doodling on the chalkboard bar at Maxwell Park, her favorite wine spot, when owner Brent Kroll asked what she had planned this holiday season. “I was like, ‘I don’t know! I just had this big project fall through.’ His expression changed, and he was like, ‘OK, we’re doing Christmas bar.’”
While Salame Aspiazu’s previous pop-ups have been a bit more “punk rock,” she’s going for a sophisticated gold and red color scheme at Maxwell Park with ribbons, ornaments, wreaths, and neon “Merry Christmas” signs. Mistletoe hangs above the bar, while images of wintry landscapes and a cozy fireplace decorate the walls. She’ll also be transforming the patio greenhouses into candy cane huts decorated with jazzed-up PVC pipes. Each greenhouse has an electric heater and bluetooth-enabled speaker, so guests can play the holiday music of their choice.
The festive drink menu (see below) includes eggnog and peppermint shooters alongside cocktails like the “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out Kid” (a cranberry negroni) and “Reindeer Buzz” (a cold-brew martini). Maxwell Park will also offer its usual wine list, including more than 30 sparkling options and half bottles of Laurent Perrier Champagne for $50. Bonus: manager/sommelier Rigel Kaufman may pour you a glass while wearing a Santa suit, and Kroll has a reindeer costume.
Seats are first come, first served, but reservations for the candy cane greenhouses are available here with a $300 deposit (applied toward your check). The pop-up will run from Black Friday through New Year’s day.
Salame Aspiazu says she’s since been inundated with requests from bars that want to go all out for Christmas this year. “I turn down requests pretty much every day now,” she says. Ultimately, she’s building out or consulting on at least three other holiday-themed bars. Brookland Pint will be decked in silver-toned Christmas decor. Shaw’s Ivy & Coney will bring back its annual Hanukkah pop-up with some new touches imagined by Salame Aspiazu. And at the Passenger, she’s helping to conceptualize a Seinfeld-inspired Festivus theme, embracing the anti-holiday spirit with an aluminum pole and molded middle fingers hanging from the ceiling. To top it off—why not—she’s releasing an NFT line of Santas flipping the bird called “Merry Cryptos.”
Salame Aspiazu is also looking to make a career as an installation artist beyond the holiday season.
“Next up is cherry blossom season,” she says. “I have a lot of other crazy plans.”
Maxwell Park. 1346 Fourth St., SE.