Bar We Love: D.C.’s Southern Efficiency

March 20, 2014 | By | Comments (2)
Bar manager J.P. Fetherston mixes up drinks. Photo: Scott Suchman

Bar manager J.P. Fetherston mixes up drinks. Photo: Scott Suchman

Our Nation’s Capital is all aflutter about the latest addition to Derek Brown’s bar crawl—Southern Efficiency sits next to Mockingbird Hill and Eat the Rich, collectively referred to as Derek’s 7th Street trifecta or DB3. (Farther down the street are The Passenger and Columbia Room, Derek’s first D.C. ventures.) At Southern Efficiency, bar manager J.P. Fetherston stocks the rustic wooden shelves with 40-some Southern whiskeys.

The Vibe
JFK’s cheeky musings about D.C.’s “Southern efficiency and Northern charm” inspired the name.

First Round
Simple and easy to drink, the on-tap white whiskey and house-smoked cola is refreshingly clean.

The intimate Southern Efficiency. Photo: Scott Suchman

The intimate Southern Efficiency. Photo: Scott Suchman

Best Bar Snack
Nosh on chef Julien Shapiro’s bourbon-soaked chicken liver-and-gizzard spread on warm cornbread with pickled vegetables.

Second Round
Try one of the house favorites, Blackstrap and Switchel, which comes sealed in a Mason jar. An updated version of what J.P. refers to as “farmer’s Gatorade from Colonial times,” this sipper is made by diluting apple cider vinegar with water and flavoring it with fresh ginger and blackstrap molasses rum.

Tip Jar
Go off-menu and order a Sazerac. As J.P.’s personal drink obsession, this native New Orleans cocktail is destined to be Southern Efficiency’s calling card. “I love the preparation and presentation of it,” J.P. says. “You don’t serve it over ice; it’s neat but in a chilled glass. It’s got the absinthe rinse and a lot of different layers while still being a simple drink at heart.”

Vintage soda siphons. Photo: Scott Suchman

Vintage soda siphons. Photo: Scott Suchman

Make It At Home

Blackstrap and Switchel

Combine 3 Tbsp. black rum (such as Cruzan Black Strap Rum) and 6 Tbsp. Switchel in a 10-oz. glass filled with ice cubes. Gently stir.

Makes 1 serving. Hands-on 5 min.; Total 5 min., not including Switchel


Combine 2 cups water, ¾ cup apple cider vinegar, ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. maple syrup, and 2 Tbsp. peeled and chopped fresh ginger. Cover and chill 24 hours. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer; discard solids. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

Makes about 3 cups. Hands-on 5 min.; Total 5 min., plus 1 day for chilling


  1. Three Things You’ll Be Drinking This Year | Your Hub for Southern Culture

    […] bar owner Derek Brown (Mockingbird Hill, Eat the Rich, Columbia Room, The Passenger, Southern Efficiency) and his team are on a mission to help you drink better. There exists no pretense or snobbery, […]

    July 22, 2014 at 4:35 pm
  2. Lizzie

    I’m moving to DC in the fall for more grad school..This is now on my “To Do” list!

    March 20, 2014 at 2:18 pm

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