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A creative offering from The Green Zone |© The Green Zone / Facebook
A creative offering from The Green Zone |© The Green Zone / Facebook
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This Washington DC Bar Had The Perfect Response To Trump’s “Muslim Ban”

Picture of Kathryn Maier
NYC Food & Drink Editor
Updated: 22 February 2017
The most wonderfully timely and relevant cocktail menu we’ve ever seen is found at The Green Zone, a Washington DC-based weekly pop-up bar run by Chris Hassaan Francke, a bartender (and World Bank contractor) of Iraqi descent. Francke uses the Middle Eastern ingredients and flavors he grew up with in his wittily-named cocktails. Given recent political events, he’s got some thoughts, and The Green Zone provides the ideal forum for registering his discontent.

Here’s the menu from this past Tuesday’s pop-up. Take a look.

It’s perfect for these times, right? “I’ve often named drinks after current events going on in the Middle East, usually vitriol aimed at the regime in Turkey or the corrupt politics of Lebanon,” says Francke. “But in the last couple of weeks, I’ve taken a bit more of a domestic focus.”

New on the menu this past week is the “Refugees Are Welcome Here,” a spiked version of sahlab, a popular warm winter drink in the Middle East—it obviously got its name following Trump’s immigration ban and the ensuing protests. “As an Iraqi-American I’m utterly horrified and outraged” by the ban, Francke says. “Several of my relatives are green card holders and are directly affected, to say nothing of many regulars of my bar, who are on my mind daily. It’s immoral, reprehensible, and in my opinion, illegal to ban visitors solely based on nationality, especially when a ban on certain Muslims is clearly the agenda. The ban on refugees is equally disgusting, and undermines American values and a large part of what defined this country.”

Just before Trump’s inauguration (and the Women’s March the following day), Francke added the “Human Rights, Human Love,” inspired by the sour grape paste he picked up in Lebanon during a recent trip. It’s combined with grape molasses (also popular in the Middle East) and cognac (distilled from grapes), and garnished with three grapes of different colors. “Just as all the ingredients in the drink are quite different, they’re all ultimately grape products and create a harmonious drink,” he says, “just as a diverse, healthy society is made of many different types of people, who are ultimately all human and all deserve the same rights, respect, and love.”

And of course there’s the “Richard Spencer Punch,” alternatively known as the “F*ck Trump! Punch,” itself a variation on the “F*ck ISIS! Punch” that’s been on The Green Zone’s menu for a while. “To turn it against Trump,” Francke says, “I added mezcal to the other ingredients in order to create an Arab-Mexican fusion—because what would annoy him more?”

“The Green Zone started with a goal of being relatively apolitical and nonpartisan, but desperate times have swung the Green Zone into a loud voice in support of equal rights, feminism, and other progressive values,” Francke says. “Over the years, it’s become much more than a mere cocktail bar,” he continues. “It’s become its own community and a weekly meeting point for open-minded, irreverent, well-travelled Washingtonians.” Appropriately named for the heavily fortified International Zone in Baghdad, the bar offers a safe space for its guests. “Just last night,” Francke says, “a guest told me, ‘I realized something: In here, Donald Trump isn’t president!’”

The party currently goes off every Tuesday evening at Zeba Bar. What will we find on the menu next week? Well, that’ll likely depend on what horrific stunts the Trump administration pulls in the meantime. At least there’s an appropriate place to drink away your sorrows and fears for the night, among like-minded friends.