The smart, funny and forever bummed out people behind the Vodka Soda Pop-Up are back with another themed bar meant to get you talking (and make a little fun of you too). DC9‘s GARBAGE BARge, a celebration of trash opinions and actual trash, opens up tonight. A mixture of literal garbage (I cannot stress this enough, there is real, live and in stereo trash all over the walls) and an under-the-sea theme pulled straight from every coming-of-age film, the GARBAGE BARge is a conservation fever dream. With booze.
It’s like if Dario Argento came back from the dead and teamed up with all of Nat Geo to open up a bar at Sea World. There’s some great causes involved, a little menace and some fantastic pool floats. The idea came to beverage manager Lauren McGrath while she was venting about an annoying customer to kitchen manager Amber Bursik. It ballooned into a lush concept that takes over the entire first floor of DC9 (and highlights their dedication to stop using plastic straws). By McGrath’s estimation, they used at least 1,000 six pack rings for decoration, on top of all of the plastic bags, soda cups, empty bottles, license plates and (of course) straws that litter the walls. Dispersed between the garbage is (fake) dying coral, (fake) dying seaweed and (fake) dying fish of all shapes a sizes.
That sad / funny / sad combination is intrinsic to the pop-up. While the messaging is aggressive (just check out that “save a sea turtle, choke on a straw” sign behind the bar), the takeaway is that everything little thing goes a long way. Besides donating a portion of their proceeds to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, DC9 has teamed up with Ocean Conservancy and Our Last Straw to help people cut down on their straw habit. Our Last Straw has even erected a wall that you can weave your final straw into and pledge yourself to a less plastic lifestyle.
The black humor continues well into the drink menu. We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat is a bright blue confection that tastes like candy, but its description reads, “Don’t go in the water… really.” The Maritime Madness is served in a beautiful glass shaped like a fish and comes with the reminder, “255,000 tons is the estimated amount of plastics floating on the worlds ocean surfaces.” Cheers!
As McGrath tells me a story about a customer who recently asked for a straw and then bragged about donating to the Sierra Club, she laughs and surveys her garbage kingdom. “It’s a Disney ride through hell,” she jokes.