Seth McClelland Opens ‘The SPEAK’

Michael Clements, Anchyi Wei, The Speak owner Seth McClelland and Ashtan Moore

K Street Magazine’s own former night life contributor Seth McClelland has always relished skirting the rules.  Now the former owner of ONE Lounge returns from taking a two-year sojourn in New York City — to help launch top nightlife hotspots like 205 Club — to give his hometown another McClelland rogue gem — this time, his relaxed interpretation of a speakeasy, which he calls The SPEAK.

BuzzFeed Reporter Darren Sands and ABC 7 Morning Show Anchor Jummy Olabanji

Before you enter the bar you are greeted by an empty 200 square foot space with a mirror and a rent sign hanging on the wall.  The small room may quickly remind you of a small empty art gallery…  And as you wonder what’s behind that wall… The SPEAK gives you a chance to discover the big reveal, highlighting that thrill of the unknown as the best aspect of going to a secret place.


After you open the “door,” The SPEAK unveils itself as a quintessential speakeasy.  With the low ceiling and low hanging lights, you may immediately feel transported back to the 1920’s during prohibition… but The SPEAK’s modern industrial twist mixes feelings of the past with modern touches, like art and chandeliers on display.

The Speak head bartender Jeff Coles

“I want this to feel like a classic neighborhood bar with super friendly staff, while also offering a cocktail menu rich with a variety of ingredients, house-made syrups and unique garnishing,” says McClelland. “Our goal is to give customers the ability to start their cocktail journey in a place where they feel comfortable.”

Jake Garcia and celebrity makeup artist Carl Ray

The biggest difference between The SPEAK and other DC speakeasy — no rules!  Guests are welcome to stay, dance, sit or stand with no rush to leave.  And that’s exactly what guests did at The SPEAK VIP preview last week, as guests were welcomed to an open bar that ranged classics to seasonal hand crafted cocktails, beer and wine.  Now that The SPEAK is open, DC bar-goers have their own chance to indulge in classic craft drinks such as the Moscow Mule and Negroni as well as unique cocktails including the Bobby Burns, Scofflaw, New York Sour and Old Cuban. Sips won’t break the bank, with $11 cocktails, $8 vodka shots and $5 beers.

Photo credit: Joy Asico

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