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Found 13 results

  1. when i want to go to a bar/lounge 9 times out of 10 i want to sip, and sup, someplace sawnk. oh, but that 10th time, i want to go to a old fashioned dive bar. good jukebox, faded vinyl booths, and crusty bartenders that usually call everyone champ or hon. my favorites, in no particular order... the raven, 3100 block of mount pleasant street, mount pleasant - great jukebox with an eclectic range of rock'n'roll and old motown, and no credit cards accepted. has gotten a tad bit too popular for my tastes. packed on weekend nights. tune-inn, 3rd and penn., capitol hill - this place is the perfect anti-dote to bars packed with hill staffers who can't seem to talk about anything but politics. fox and hound, 17th and q (i think), dupont circle - you have to love a place that serves you a glass of vodka and a small bottle of tonic. what are your favorites?
  2. I want to start this thread in order for experienced diners to offer up helpful ideas for bartenders. Speaking for myself, and I believe speaking for others, the diners on this website (and I remind people that our members are 25-30% industry insiders) have a deep-seated respect for bartenders, and can use this thread to communicate helpful hints to make tricky situations easier. What I don't want this thread to be is a finger-wagging "shame list," full of "Thou shalt not" commands designed to be passive-aggressive venting. The overwhelming majority of diners here have a genuine compassion for our bartending brothers and sisters, and can use this to suggest things to create win-win situations for all involved. Most of these types of lists in other publications are of the form, "10 Secrets Your Bartender Doesn't Tell You," and are designed not only to be click-bait, but also to make the diners feel like shit about themselves. I want none of that here, although I would love to start a reverse thread titled, "Advice to Diners from Bartenders," with the same spirit of mutual respect as its goal. I could probably think of fifty things to rattle off, but I'd rather do them one at a time, so that they can be discussed and absorbed - maybe some of them aren't even valid points, I don't know; but hopefully, with an attitude of mutual respect and admiration, we'll be able to accomplish quite a lot here. I'd like to start out with one thing that's small, and relatively unimportant, as an example of a single issue that most people might have differing opinions about. The issue is, "When Happy Hour ends at 6, and it's 5:50." All the diners are possibly holding a separate menu, and people undoubtedly try to put in a big order at 5:58. I can see where this could be annoying from a bartender's point-of-view (especially when it's 6:05). A couple of thoughts from my perspective: * In general, people don't like being lied to, but this is one particular instance where it might be best for the menus to announce the end of Happy Hour 15 minutes before the restaurant actually wants it to end, i.e., the "real" ending time would be 6:15 PM. This will make customers feel like their bartender is doing them a favor by "sneaking in" one last order, and might even result in a bigger tip. Diners really appreciate gestures such as this - just have your staff sworn to secrecy! * Clear and concise communication is always best, and I personally like it when a bartender traverses the bar, collecting up all the Happy Hour menus at 5:55 (or whenever), and clearly asking, "Are there any more Happy Hour orders?" While this may err on the aggressive side, it's for the best, as it leaves customers no wiggle room, and clearly establishes that Happy Hour is now over, while giving diners one, last chance to order three beers for "those friends who are about to arrive." (Yeah, right!) * If the bartender is swamped at 5:53, make sure to give everyone one, last chance to get a drink order in, even if it means going over. It always amazes me how bars clear out when Happy Hour ends, so I guess people in general can be pretty cheap. I like to arrive about 15 minutes before Happy Hour ends, so I can save a couple bucks on my first drink (which I tend to enjoy by itself), but then I have the luxury of an empty bar afterwards. Note to diners: While I don't think it's required to tip on the full price, I do think it's important to remember that this is these people's livelihood, and adding something extra may mean more to them than it would mean to you - but again, this would be generous on your part (then again, the world would be a better place if more people were generous). If you're wealthy, keep in mind that they probably aren't, and they've been working to please you. * If it's possible, have your cash registers set up so that it's physically impossible to enter a Happy Hour item after the witching hour. This gives the bartender an "out" without looking like a creep. Also, if possible, set up the registers to allow an override for emergency situations - but when that happens, make it look like a big deal by calling the manager over to unlock the register, etc. Make sure the diner knows you've broken the rules in this one, particular situation. I can't think of anything else about this particular issue - if any bartenders have any "dos or don'ts" for diners, that would be an excellent chance to quote this post, and put the response in a new, "bartenders-to-diners" thread. If you don't know how, just say so, and I'll do it for you - it's simple when you know how (then again, so is brain surgery). Cheers, Rocks
  3. "It only makes sense to stop talking about the dynamics of an article written about a bar and start talking about the bar itself", I was told, as part of a request* to start a thread on Hummingbird to Mars. So, for those of you who haven't been following the other thread, or don't read the blogs or the Post, Hummingbird to Mars is a speakeasy-type operation run by three of our city's most talented bartenders: Derek Brown, Justin Guthrie, and Owen Thomson. I don't have an official mission statement from them, and I'm not going to source info from the blogosphere, so I'll just give my impressions. The guys have worked hard to establish an ambience that allows for appreciation of craft bartending. It's comfortable furnished, softly lit, but not a hush-hush quiet altar to alcohol. They offer classic, original, and borrowed cocktails. I had my doubts when I heard about it. I have a strong knee-jerk reaction to anything that comes across as elitist; indeed there are several well-regarded restaurants that I don't go to because they have an "either you're in or you're out" vibe. But on the other hand, I've seen highly-regarded bars loose some of what makes them special when the clientele changes and customers start demanding Red Bull and vodka drinks from a bartender who would rather take five minutes to make something unique. Although H2M has a bit of a clubby atmosphere (and some may find that off-putting), it doesn't feel trendy or falsely upscale. I love it because I love good cocktails, and I love quiet (but not dead), comfortable, uncrowded places where civilized (but not formal) clientele know how to comport themselves. It's not just the drinks, but the total experience that makes Hummingbird to Mars a special place. Hummingbird to Mars edited to add: *by a hummingbird or two
  4. I just got back from a short vacation in Berlin. While there, I discovered (again) that one of my premier pleasures in life is sitting at a bar, whiling the time away while chatting with bartenders/bar managers who (1) are friendly and charming and interesting and fun, (2) have the time and inclination to chat back, when not busy,* and (3) know their **** inside and out, serve (or recommend) consistently delicious drinks, and -- as a bonus -- are unabashed cocktail/wine/sherry/what-have-you geeks. The kind of place where the people who work there are enthusiastic about what they do and enjoy discussing their craft -- and, here and there, parceling out complimentary tastes of cool things -- or various other topics with semi-random customers who take an interest. There are places with people like this in D.C.: Bill and the entire bar staff at Tail Up Goat; Sean and Nate in particular at Room 11; Chantal at the Reading Room when she's not slammed; a few people at Lapis, Barcelona, Bar Pilar (although I've also had strikingly bad service here recently), and Ripple whose names now escape me; and of course Gina, Adam, Owen, and a couple of others back in the day when they were regularly behind the stick at a place I frequented. But I'm sure I'm forgetting, overlooking, or not aware of some places that fit these criteria, so: who are the cocktailiers/bar managers/bartenders in D.C. who are most likely to enhance your bargoing experience by their combination of skills and personality? I'm especially interested in places that (1) are in D.C. proper and not too far from public transit, since I'm thoroughly carless; or (2) I could plausibly walk into on a random night and sit down at the bar with minimal wait or advance planning (so not places like The Columbia Room, Dram & Grain, or Rose's, or The Red Hen). Thanks. *The proviso of "when not busy" is especially salient in this city, since my sense is that the really good bars (and really good bartenders) get jam-packed here even on an average weeknight more often than certain other cities with a denser, more variegated craft bar culture,** and I'm certainly not going to be that guy who tries to make small talk when someone's got six orders to fill. **(I probably spent about 9 hours of my 2.5 days in Berlin just hanging out at the bar of Pauly Saal chatting with the barstaff -- all three of whom were absolutely awesome, and absurdly credentialed -- on a Friday and Saturday night, and the room was never more than a third full, and for much of that time I was the only person at the bar itself. Also great Berlin bar experiences in this vein: Rutz Weinbar and Twinpigs.)
  5. So last week was my week in Bethany. We didn't really eat out much this time, but met friends at Seacrets. It certainly wasn't for the food, not for getting s***t faced, but it was for the novelty of eating outside under full sized palm trees with a sand floor. It was the first time I had been there in probably a decade. Time has pretty much stood still (G-Love and Special Sauce was the headliner band that night). It is also a different experience when you are there with your child, and they hand you the "rules" for being there with someone underage (kind of funny considering my daughter is 5. They just opened a distillery on-site in June, which is new. Okay, now on to the food--it was pretty bad and the service was pretty bad as well. My wife and another friend had salads, one topped with grilled shrimp, the other with tuna. The first time they made the salad with the tuna, it cam with tuna salad. They acknowledged the mistake, re-made it, asked how the tuna should be cooked and it came about 15 minutes later well done. Regardless, they comped it which was nice. I had "Jamaican Tenders" and a side of fries. They were pretty dried out, not very spicy, not very good to say the least, and pretty puny. Someone else got a veggie wrap which looked pretty good and they seemed to like it. Bottom line--don't come here for the food, some here for the ambiance or to get a frozen rum drink called a "Pain in the Ass", served in a plastic cup and sit in an oasis like setting with a canopy of palm trees and a sand floor. If you don't take yourself too seriously and you enjoy the company you are with, you will have a good time at this classic.
  6. I know there's already a thread on dive bars, but not all neighborhood bars are dives. I often hear that DC doesn't have many neighborhood bars, but I disagree. Some neighborhoods will never have their own bar/pub based on zoning, but you don't have to go too far in the district to find one. Based upon years of arduous research, here's a list of DC neighborhood bars that pop to mind (in no particular order) Palisades - DC Boat House (although I have high hopes for the Kendle Tavern when it opens) Foxhall/Spring Valley - Chef Geoff's (it has a great long wooden bar) Friendship Heights - Chadwick's Chevy Chase - Chevy Chase Lounge Tenleytown - Dancing Crab/Malt Shop (although I preferred the old location) Cathedral Heights - Cafe Deluxe Glover Park - Bourbon Georgetown - Martin's Tavern Cleveland Park - Cleveland Park Tavern Woodley Park - Woodley Grill Dupont - Childe Harold Dupont East - Townhouse Tavern Foggy Bottom/West End - Red Lion or 51st State Tavern Golden Triangle - Bottom Line Logan Circle - Stoney's U Street - Saloon or Polly's Mt. Pleasant - Raven Adams Morgan - Toledo Lounge or the Reef (except on weekends) Columbia Heights - Wonderland Petworth - Temperance Hall (not technically in Petworth, I know, but right across the street) Takoma - Takoma Tavern Brightwood/Manor Park - Jackie Lees (a cool and historic place but with eratic days/hours) Brookland - Colonel Brooks Woodridge - Saints Bourbon Street Union Station - Irish Times or Dubliner Penn Quarter/Downton - Matchbox, Harry's or Irish Channel Shaw - Dominion Brew House Capitol Hill (Senate side) - Union Pub Captiol Hill (House side) - Tune Inn Eastern Market - Tunnicliff's Potomac Ave/Hill East - Trusty's Trinidad - Argonaut (again, not technically in Trinidad, but esentially across the street) Congress Heights - Georgina's aka the Player's Lounge Neighborhoods sorely lacking neighborhood bars: Shepherd Park Brentwood Van Ness (I miss Passport; it was a dive, but a likeable dive) Southwest (Cantina Marina doesn't really fit my idea of a neighborhood bar) Eckington (hopefully EC-12, if it ever comes to fruition, will change that) Navy Yard/Ball Park district (this should change with the opening of the stadium and all the new residences under construction) Anacostia and most other neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River --- Hawk 'n' Dove (Pat)
  7. I've seen this news repeated in several media sites (I guess a "good story" gets repeated again and again). Neighborhood bars are on the decline That pace is continuous and per the article Virginia is one of the places where the decline is most rapid. Meanwhile restaurant liquor sales are up in total...so the "joints" are being replaced by higher end establishments. Now if you want to see how people "search" for different kinds of bars, here is some data from google trends over the last some years. Craft beer searching is up up up. Wine bar searching might have maxed out and looks to be slowing down, but people are searching more and more for dive bars. Maybe the searches for dive bars are increasing because they are more difficult to find???
  8. Good evening I will be hosting an out of town friend this summer. I live in the hellburbs and will be looking to escape downtown at all available opps. Or at least Clarendon. Any suggestions? Someplace fun but not so bloody loud or crowded we can't hear each other talking. I know that is a tall order, especially for July 4th. Thanks!
  9. I just recommended Artie's to a friend needing a place near Vienna for a diverse mix of people to get hammered on a Saturday afternoon, then my mind quickly shifted from the bar at Artie's (which is a fascinating square) to the bar at Round Robin (which is a fascinating circle). These two bars (the bars themselves) are really lovely, and I was wondering what other people thought were the most attractive, interesting, or appealing bars in the area. I have several others in mind (Hudson is an example of one that closed), but I'd love to hear other people's favorites. What are the nicest bars in the city, with alcohol selection and bartenders not taken into consideration, but perhaps considering the bar stools and immediate surroundings? And why do you find them appealing? I'd also love to hear some answers from bartenders, architects and designers in terms of design efficiency, proper spacing, quality of construction, etc. which will lend a Frank Lloyd Wright perspective ("That ugly thing is worth *how* much?!")
  10. http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2012/04/how-to-build-a-better-wine-bar.html I tweeted this link - but yeah, it seemed pretty spot-on to me.
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