By DCist contributor Leigh Giangreco
When Todd Luongo got his inspiration to host a Will Ferrell pop-up bar, which opened at his H street restaurant Mythology (816 H St. NE) earlier this month, he heard about it the way any self respecting Ferrell fan would: a news report from a local anchorman.
During a trip to Boston, Luongo caught a report on the “Stay Classy” bar opening in town. He saw fertile ground for a Ferrell stint in D.C., which had exploded with pop-ups and welcomed an official "Anchorman" exhibit at the Newseum ahead of the film’s sequel in 2013.
Luongo also felt that the pure absurdity of a bar filled with "Stepbrothers" and "Talladega Nights" references was just the antidote D.C. needed following a contentious presidential election. Unlike political loyalties, he believes an affinity for Ferrell can bridge the gap between Democrats and Republicans.
“There isn’t one person I know who doesn’t love at least one Will Ferrell movie. And if there is, don’t want to know that person,” he says. “Not everyone likes every one of his movies, but find me one person who doesn’t like at least one or can’t quote at least five taglines.”
Luongo called up Zach Neil, who started the Stay Classy pop-up in New York and has since covered the country’s watering holes from coast to coast in mustaches and Mugatu paraphernalia.
“Will Ferrell has been the guy that can make you laugh on your worst day,” Neil says. “I feel like we’re bringing a moving party everywhere we go.”
With a bar dedicated to Ferrell’s oeuvre, Neil made sure to cover his legal bases when he set up the original pop-up. But while he examined whether he could name drinks after Ferrell's Anchorman character Ron Burgundy, Ferrell himself got in touch with Neil. The actor visited Stay Classy in New York and the two eventually collaborated on events for press junkets, including a guest spot making themed drinks on The Andy Cohen Show.
The New York bar also hosted events benefiting Ferrell’s charity, Cancer for Colleges, which raises money for students who battled cancer in their adolescence and would otherwise struggle to pay for school. The pop-up bar in D.C. sells t-shirts emblazoned with phrases like “Smelly Pirate Hooker” and proceeds go toward the charity.
One of Stay Classy’s signature cocktails ($10-$16) also references Burgundy’s “Smelly Pirate Hooker” insult from Anchorman. The margarita is as fun to drink as it is to order, with a sweet and spicy citrus taste that sneaks up on you with a latent jalapeno heat. For those seeking a bit of whiskey to pair with their collection of leather bound books, there’s the Shake and Bake, a super-charged whiskey sour that sparkles with ginger beer and muddled cherry. Most of Stay Classy’s drinks feature irreverent names, but patrons shouldn’t be shy about ordering them.
“At some point, I’ve watched someone’s grandmother order a Whale’s Vagina or a Big Foot’s Dick,” Neil says. “It’s all in good fun.”
Other cocktails like “Great Odin’s Raven” and “Beard of Zeus” play on Burgundy’s obsession with mythology, but also dovetail with the restaurant’s namesake, which is a nod to the Atlas strip of H Street.
D.C. is the first Ferrell pop-up featuring a full food menu along with themed drinks—and the main dishes don’t stray from the irreverent or deep-cut references. Fans of Mythology will recognize most of them from the restaurant's standard menu.
“A nice seafood dinner” ($19) includes cajun fried shrimp, crayfish, and cheddar grits, but don't blame Stay Classy if your date doesn't call you back afterwards. If you need more vegetarian options there’s always More Cowbell ($19), a curried chickpea ragout with stewed eggplant and spinach.
Luongo also serves his restaurant’s signature frites ($13) in a large human head-shaped vase, with the frites emerging from its skull like Athena springing from Zeus’ head. The fries are more than your average potato though. Frites like the Wess Mantooth are covered in crab, bisque, and Old Bay, while the Fantana takes on an Eastern flavor with grilled beef and kimchi.
Listen carefully to the bar’s playlist, which includes “Don’t Fear the Reaper” from the infamous Saturday Night Live cowbell skit. Every time the song comes on, the bar gives a house shot to every person in the bar.
While it was originally billed as a one-month run, Stay Classy will stay open through July. They plan to host several weekend theme parties featuring various Ferrell movies, including a Catalina wine mixer. And when the bar opens its rooftop, Mythology will turn into an “Old School” bash complete with red Solo cups. The party might even include jello wrestling, insurance provided, Neil notes. Either way, patrons will be able to partake in a drink called “We’re going streaking.”
“Our goal would be we have such a good time, we would go streaking after,” Zach says. “Something tells me the president won’t mind.”
As a nod to both Anchorman and Ferrell’s earlier mustachioed Saturday Night Live impersonation, Robert Goulet, Stay Classy will throw a mustache bash every Saturday. Gentlemen and ladies are encouraged to come with follicles, real or not, and the bar will give away cash prizes for the best mustache. If patrons don’t arrive with their own mustache, the bar has packs of adhesive handlebars ready to go.
Mythology's Stay Classy pop-up is open for dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. The bar is open from 5 p.m. until 1 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday, from 5 p.m. until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Sundays. Reservations are available through the restaurant's website. They'll be open through July.