Bites: 1986 opens with more than 125 different whiskeys

The specialty bar lives inside Alexandria’s Union Street Public House.

Union Street Public House
Photo courtesy of Union Street Public House
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This is not a modern speakeasy. There is no password, no secret door, no air of superiority. This is a whiskey bar. Straight. Cocktails. Some beer, bites and more booze.

“The goal is to be approachable,” says Dan Patrizio, the general manager and creator of 1986. The whiskey bar officially opens next Wednesday, Dec. 6 (the day after Repeal Day) inside the Union Street Public House, though it’s been in soft-launch mode since before Thanksgiving.

The menu lists over 125 bourbons and whiskeys (Angel’s Envy, Bib & Tucker), with additional breakdowns of ryes (Sagamore Spirit, Whistle Pig), Virginia spirits (Filibuster, Virginia Highland), scotches (Glenmorangie, Laphroaig) and more. The rest of the bottle list includes vodka, gin, rum, tequila and mezcal, plus specialty flights of Virginia-made bottles, small-batch sips and tastes from around the world.

Patrizio, a seasoned hospitality player working under some of the biggest names in the region (Knightsbridge Restaurant Group, Passion Food Hospitality and Neighborhood Restaurant Group), joined the Alexandria restaurant at the beginning of the year and has been working on the concept ever since. He started with the beer program first, all the while collecting ideas and shaking strainers for this new venture embedded in the restaurant, named after the year it opened.

The bar will have its own food menu with shareable, casual items: cheddar, chive and black pepper popcorn, buttermilk fried wings, fried oyster on challah and a crab cake slider. The full Union Street menu will also be available to complement spirits.

“If I had my way, we’d get back to thoughtfully presented cocktails,” says Patrizio, by which he means a return to the classics, or at least those with no more than four ingredients.

The cocktail list is divided into three categories, including house originals, featuring Dramboozled with Islay scotch, Drambuie, vermouth and an absinthe rinse that Patrizio likens to drinking an “orange honeysuckle.” There’s also a tribute section dedicated to knock-offs from trendy bars around the country and a classic section, of which Patrizio is a fan of the Manhattan. 1986’s version includes Bulleit rye, Pune e Mes and Dolin with two Luxardo maraschino cherries slipped onto a bamboo stirrer. Patrizio orders the drink “100 percent of the time.”