Opened in 2018 by DC Bar Director Deke Dunne, Allegory was created to represent Washington DC’s diverse community through cocktails, culture and art.
True to its name, Allegory implores guests to dig for hidden meanings present across its whole operation. Where some of these double-entendres are obvious – the entrance to the speakeasy is obscured behind a nondescript door in DC’s Eaton Hotel – its pivotal parallels are those it draws from the bar’s literary theme.
Everything about Allegory is designed to stimulate the mind and senses. Arguably the most domineering and prominent aspect of the entire venue is its expansive mural, occupying the majority of the wall space. Painted by Erik Thor Sandberg, the surrealist artwork is the first sign of the bar’s overarching theme: a re-imagination of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with civil rights pioneer Ruby Bridges in place of the titular character.
This masterful artwork extends through its menu too, designed by Keiry Benitez and Dunne. Titled ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’, it continues the fusion of literature with social justice, art and culture, melding together the stories of Bridges and Lewis Carroll’s literary epic with cocktails designed to match each chapter. As the menu first sets the scene in 1961 New Orleans, the opening drink, the Looking Glass – Dunne’s blend of a vodka soda and whiskey highball – is paired with a bespoke illustration of Alice (Bridges) taking her first steps into the unknown, surrounded by mystical creatures and uncharted frontiers.
As guests turn each page, the intertwined stories of Bridges and Alice continue, drawing further parallels between Alice’s strange encounters and quotes from Bridges across the chapters of her struggle with Civil Rights activism. As Bridges slays the Jabberwocky, Dunne pairs it with the Eyes of Flame, a mezcal and rum concoction with reclaimed mandarin, passion fruit and Palo Cortado sherry. As Bridges emerges triumphant at the end of the tale, the Queen Alice (Caribbean-spiced highball with orange and bay leaf) and the Awakening (a clarified milk punch of tea, coconut, pineapple rind and yuzu) offer an astute double bill of non-alcoholic closers.
Just as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland earned its reputation as a fantastical page-turner, Allegory’s highly-curated offering has become lauded for its clever intersection of art, culture, literature and seriously good drinks. As selected by 50 Best’s panel of Academy Chairs, Allegory is awarded the Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu Award 2023.
Discover more about the previous award winners