Step 1: Enter donut shop. Step 2: Pull secret lever. Step 3: WHOA.
Walking through the doors of the Sugar Shack donut shop in Alexandria, VA, is like walking straight into a sugary paradise. There are more donut flavors than one person could ever hope to eat, and the space offers a cozy space to chow down.
That in itself would make a visit to the Sugar Shack worth the trip, but this donut shop contains a boozy secret waiting to be discovered. Hidden behind a tucked-away wall off the shop’s main room is the entrance to Captain Gregory’s, a moody speakeasy with an artisan cocktail menu that you must try – if you can figure out how to get in.
If you can find the right wall and pull the hidden lever (hint: it looks a lot like a flag), the wall will slide open to reveal a cozy cocktail den. It’s got everything a speakeasy needs: mood lighting, low whispers, delicious food and the prettiest cocktail presentations you ever did see.
The venue is named for the legend of Captain Gregory, the man who is rumored to have invented the donut. Gregory, the legend goes, was manning his ship when the seas grew choppy, forcing him to stash his doughy meal on one of the spokes of his ship’s wheel. The rest, they say, is history – and in honor of this dessert trailblazer, you’ll find nautical-inspired design throughout the bar.
As creative as the venue’s name is, the names of its 15 nightly cocktails are even more inspired. There’s the Cottonmouth’s Dilemma, made with rye infused with toasted pecans and spices. There’s Remember The Maine, which is dominated by bourbon and sweet vermouth. If you’re in more of a summery mood, go for the Anais Needs A Vacay, a gin drink loaded with tropical ingredients.
Captain Gregory’s bartenders love a little spontaneity, so if their menu options don’t do it for you, they’ll whip up an off-menu drink for you based on your favorite flavors and liquors.
If even that’s not creative enough for you, your best bet is to drop in for what the bar calls Experimental Sundays, when each bartender offers up a special new concoction they’ve been refining. Talk about pleasant surprises!
The venue is intimate, so it only holds about 25 guests at a time, and visitors are sometimes held to a two-hour time limit. (That certainly adds to the aura of exclusivity, am I right?) The most eager guests make reservations, but walk-ins sometimes have luck in the early evenings.
Of course, Captain Gregory’s gladly encourages you to devour donuts alongside those highbrow cocktails. It’s the best of both worlds – and sugary treats always make your drink of choice a bit sweeter, if you ask us. Happy sipping!