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Cherry blossom madness has already begun. With the wonky weather and the hope that spring is right around the corner, Washingtonians have already started to obsess over the bloom date, and with good reason. Traditionally, unless you go in the middle of the night or at the crack of dawn, checking out the cherry blossoms involves pushing your way through tourists and locals alike as you fight to grab that elusive (yet repetitive) photo of the flowers lighting up the Tidal Basin. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can stress about peak bloom dates and weather changes… Or you can bask in the glory of the blossoms while you casually knock back some sake in one of D.C.’s most beautiful bars. Your choice.

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Sure, the trees at Drink Company‘s Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Bar (or PUB if you’re feeling real casual) aren’t real, but they’re as luscious and breathtaking as anything you’d find outside. Duck into the old Mockingbird Hill space and you’ll be inundated with the blossoms. The white and pink flowers are more dense than they were last year (they have more than doubled the amount of branches) and hang low from the ceiling while textured tree trunks climb up the walls. Make your way into the back and you’ll find yourself in a bright and lively courtyard that looks like it’s come straight out of a Better Homes & Garden catalogue. Just don’t forget to look up.

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Cross the threshold into the next bar and you’ll find yourself in the middle of a Japanese tea house, complete with paper cranes, delicate woodwork and even more cherry blossom trees. Easily the most calming and meditative room in the pop-up, you’ll want to make a beeline here after you’ve made it through the line. And then you’ll probably never want to leave. Luckily, you don’t have to. Kickback, order the Calpico cocktail (I’ve only taken one sip of the Japanese soda and I cannot get enough of the stuff) and relax.

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Of course, if you only stay in one room, you’d miss the magic that is the old Eat the Rich bar. Pass through the manga covered hallway and you’re quickly transported from the Japanese countryside to the middle of Shinjuku’s Memory Lane, a tight alleyway crammed with bars and restaurants in Tokyo. Drink Company has completely recreated the street, from the bright signs (can you tell what they say?) and hanging lanterns to the crossing electrical wires. Take a seat at the bar and you’ll spy some old school TV’s playing nothing but clips of Godzilla. And speaking of the Tokyo-terrorizing lizard beast, head to the back of bar and you’ll find an ten-foot-tall animatronic version of the monster, posed mid battle with his old enemy Mothra.

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Cherry blossom madness has definitely begun, but with a cold drink in our hands and the company of a giant lizard beast from our childhood, we don’t really mind it so much.

The Cherry Blossom PUB is located at 1839 7th St NW and opens up on March 1.

Words by Kaylee Dugan, Photos by Nicholas Karlin

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