Second room first floor bar at The Big Hunt

The Big Hunt has a tavern license with entertainment and summer garden endorsements

In DC, bars and restaurants who want to serve booze must first obtain a liquor license from the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). This post is a primer on the different types of licenses and special endorsements that are required.

License Types

To sell alcohol for drinking on-site, a bar/restaurant can get a restaurant, tavern, or nightclub license. Although some spots get a “D” license that allows the sale of beer and wine only (Dacha Beer Garden is a notable example), the overwhelming majority have “C” licenses that allow liquor to be sold too. The differences between these kinds of licenses are explained further below.

Restaurant License

Most spots, even places that seem more a place to drink than eat (e.g. Front Page, The Ugly Mug), have a restaurant liquor license. Although this is the most common type of on-premises license, this is not necessarily the most coveted. Why? There are a host of restrictions for restaurant license holders, including:

  • Having a kitchen open until 2 hours before closing
  • Having advertising/signs emphasize food instead of booze or entertainment
  • Have annual gross food sales of $2000 per occupant (based on certificate of occupancy; $1500 for D licensees) OR 45% of gross annual receipts
  • Can’t have dancing, entertainment, or a cover without an entertainment endorsement (discussed later)

To certify their food sales, restaurant license holders must file quarterly statements detailing their sales and expenses; new bars/restaurant often get dinged and fined for failing to do so. Still, much to the chagrin of some neighbors, bars who don’t meet the food requirements rarely actually get their liquor licenses revoked; instead, there’s a grace period and ABRA routinely issues warnings and issues fines.

Restaurant liquor licenses cost $1000 (capacity 0-99), $1300 (100-199), $1950 (200-499) & $2600 (500+) annually.

Tavern License

Tavern license holders (often traditional bars, though they include places like Cava and Bistro D’oc who could easily qualify as restaurants) are hampered by much fewer restrictions. They don’t even have to serve food and they can have a dance floor of 140 square feet or smaller without getting an entertainment endorsement.

Tavern licenses are $1300 (0-99), $2080 (100-199) & $3120 (200+) annually.

Nightclub License

DC’s 40 or so nightclub license holders (which include clubs like Midtown, Ultrabar) have very few restrictions and can have entertainment, dancing, or charge a cover without getting permission. Strip clubs and big music spots like DC9 often have nightclub licenses too. New nightclubs are prohibited in many parts of DC.

A nightclub license costs $1950 (0-99), $2600 (100-199), $3250 (200-499) & $4550 (500+) annually.

Types of Endorsements

Bars/restaurants who want to offer entertainment and serve drinks outside (either on patio or rooftop/deck) must obtain additional permission in order to do so.

Entertainment Endorsement

An establishment can apply at any time to get an entertainment endorsement (which can be protested like a normal liquor license). Such an endorsement is required for any bar with a restaurant/tavern liquor license that wants to have live bands, karaoke, comedy shows, poetry readings, burlesque, DJs, dancing (taverns need an endorsement to have a dance floor bigger than 140 square feet), and/or a cover charge. A bar can operate a jukebox, ipod, TV, radio, or play other prerecorded music without an endorsement. Nightclubs don’t need entertainment endorsements.

Entertainment endorsements were recently an issue in the recently-modified Adams Morgan liquor license moratorium. The local neighborhood ANC requested that ABRA prohibit new entertainment endorsements so restaurants could not morph into nightclubs. ABRA refused to impose this prohibition, instead declaring they will continue to scrutinize requests on a case-by-case basis.

Entertainment endorsements are an extra 20% of the liquor license annual fee.

Sidewalk Cafe / Summer Garden Endorsement

To serve alcohol outside, a bar must get a $75 sidewalk cafe (for patios along the sidewalk in public space-DC actually owns many restaurant patio spaces) or summer garden (private space, like a roof deck) endorsement. These endorsements are often opposed by neighbors due to noise issues and often lead to settlement agreements limiting the hours of operation for outside space (for example, on 17th Street in Dupont, patios typically close at 11p on weekdays, and midnight on weekends).

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A list of all DC liquor license holders can be found here, while ABRA has more details on the liquor licensing process. Stay tuned for another post on the application/protest process.

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India Gate

India Gate

India Gate Restaurant & Bar, 2020 P St, 202-293-1555,  opens at 10:30a everyday, closes at 11:30p weekdays, midnight on weekends, est. 2014 [Eater, PoPville], owned and operated by a longtime former cook from the DC mainstay Bombay Club, opened last Wednesday in Dupont. This new Indian restaurant, spread over a comfortable bi-level space, most recently occupied by Eola, serves excellent reasonably-priced Indian (halal) food (most entrees $13-17) for lunch and dinner daily until late. A liquor license should be forthcoming any day now, and both delivery and carryout will be offered.

More pictures of the restaurant (dominated by warm yellow and red tones) and part of the menu is below:

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Portion of Menu

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First floor view facing kitchen

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First floor facing P Street

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Second floor space

Local 16 Roofdeck

Local 16 Roofdeck

Although we just had a long weekend, we’re due for a #ThurstDay outing. For those uninitiated, Thursday is a grown up Thirsty Thursday; previous ThurstDays have been held since October at several favorite spots in the Dupont/AdMo/U Street/14th Street area including Jack Rose, Bar Charley, GBD, Board Room, Bier Baron, Thomas Foolery The Gibson, BlackJack, Rebellion, and Lauriol Plaza. Join us at Local 16 (16th/U) beginning around 6pm. Local 16, really? one might ask. Yes, really. The bar has a pretty solid $5 happy hour (selected beers, signature cocktails, food, rails) that goes till 8p, which is sadly pretty rare for DC.

Just as important, the weather should be pretty pleasant (upper 70s/low-mid 80s) so it will be a great night to be on its spacious roofdeck.

Hope to see you there, we plan on being there for awhile. As always, feel to bring friends, strangers and/or new Tinder buddies.

 

Rhino Bar & Pumphouse (Credit: StationStart.com http://stationstart.com/2010/01/rhino-bar-and-pumphouse/)

Rhino Bar and Pumphouse, one of Georgetown’s last remaining college dive bars, recently had its liquor license suspended for five days for selling beer to an underage Georgetown University student in February 2013. [7/20 UPDATE: Rhino Bar has appealed the decision, so the suspension is on hold] The Red Sox M Street bro (top 4 in country according to one publication) sports bar will be shuttered Tuesday, July 8th through Saturday, July 12th to serve its punishment. D.C.’s Alcohol and Beverage Control Board’s ruling is worth the read, but we’ve summarized the tale, which includes bouncer whispering, a locked back door, a claimed case of mistaken beer identity, and women’s lacrosse. Fun fact from that ruling-in DC you can be arrested for presenting a fake ID to get into a bar, but you can only get a ticket for being underage and drinking in a bar.

On the night of the incident, a DC police officer was stationed at the bar’s entrance as part of the “Cops in Shops” program to help identify and arrest kids using fake IDs to get into bars like Rhino Bar. Two girls bypassed the 20-30 people in line and went straight to the bouncer, who whispered to them; the girls immediately hightailed it down M Street. The cop caught up with them and they admitted that the bouncer warned them not to enter the bar (one had a fake ID and the other had been arrested by the same cop a couple years before for having a fake). The women told the officer that Rhino Bar had let them into the bar before without ID and that most of the kids in the bar were underage.

The officer followed up by entering the establishment and approached two other young women who were drinking; one of them, a member of the Georgetown women’s lacrosse team, didn’t have ID and admitted she was 19. She was drinking a Bud Light according to the police officer–a fact that ended up being the crux of Rhino Bar’s defense. Charles Swann, Rhino Bar’s owner, claimed that Rhino Bar only sold Miller Lite at the time of the incident and that the underage woman must have “jiggered the lock on the back door and entered the kitchen with the beer in hand.” In fact, Rhino Bar’s general manager conducted his own gumshoe work, identified the supposed underage drinker walking down the street, and got the frequent patron to sign an unsworn/undated statement that she did in fact get into the bar through the back door with a beer.

This super-professional investigation did not work. The officer on duty confirmed that the girl who signed the statement was a different person than the one he had identified in the bar drinking with no ID; she had presented her student ID and the officer had confirmed it further by checking the GU women’s lacrosse official website. The Board explained:

The scenario described by [Rhino Bar] concerning the minor’s efforts to enter through a locked door with a beer in her hand stretches credibility … [and] is based solely on his presentation of handwritten undated and unsworn statement by an individual who was not the one identified [by the officer], and accordingly, not related to the violation at issue. In any event, [Rhino Bar] would be liable for underage drinking its establishment regardless of how the patron entered the establishment.

[Rhino Bar] also argues that there is insufficient evidence to show that the establishment served the minor in question because they don’t carry certain beer products. The Board disagrees. Unless [Rhino Bar] routinely allows patrons to enter its premises with open containers of alcohol, the underage female patron caught with an alcoholic beverage had no other source of alcohol other than the establishment.

Luckily for Rhino Bar, a divided Board did not uphold the charge that it failed to take steps reasonably necessary to ascertain the legal drinking age of a minor. Interestingly, the Board said the “mere presence of a minor in presence of an alcoholic beverage inside the establishment [was] not sufficient evidence” to substantiate this charge.  Still, because the Board found that it sold booze to an underage patron for the 2nd time within two years, it fined the bar $3,000 and suspended its liquor license for five days, a heavy hit to bros and DC Red Sox fans everywhere.

DC Fireworks (Source: wikimedia.org)

Not surprisingly, DC goes pretty much all-out for the Fourth of July. We’ve compiled another list of bars (other than those already sold out) having events Friday to celebrate our nation’s birthday.Hat tip  (for many of these) to the typically-excellent roundups from the Washington Post‘s Going Out GurusWashingtonian‘s Best Bites Blog. InTheCapital,

Fireworks View

These roof decks will have (or claim to have) a view of the fireworks on the Mall. Fireworks usually start around 9:10p.

U Street

  • 1905
    • $20 (door) ($15 advance tix sold out)
    • Best bar roof deck in city will be host to a party serving 3 Stars Brewing Company beers
    • 1 item from grill (burger/sausage/ribs) + 2 sides OR 2 beers
    • $5 3 Stars drafts
    • Doors open at 3p
  • The Brixton
    • Free
    • HH from 1-7p on rooftop ($15 Bud Light buckets, $4 Bud Light/Miller Lite bottles, $5 drafts, $5 rails, Smirnoff/Absolut flavors, $6 wine)
    • Hot dog eating contest at 5p (get there by 4p and RSVP at link)
  • DC 9
    • Free
    • $11 for choice of burgers/brats, 2 sides & slice of watermelon)
    • $4 DC Brau’s
    • Doors open at 2p

H Street

  • H Street Country Club
    • Free
    • Doors open at 11:30a
  • Avery’s Bar and Lounge
    • $10 (door & online)
    • $5 Fireball shots & $6 Jack/Jameson drinks from 5-9p
    • DJ
    • Doors open at 3p
  • Rock and Roll Hotel
    • Free
    • DJs and live music
    • drink specials
    • Doors open at 4p

Columbia Heights

  • Red Derby
    • Free
    • Doors open at 11a
    • Happy hour from 11a-8p ($1 off beer) + $2 hot dogs
    • Roof deck

No View Parties

Chinatown/Penn Quarter

  • City Tap House
    • $10 to enjoy BBQ food
    • BeerBQ Battle between 3 Stars Brewing & Evolution
    • $5 each – 10 drafts of 3 Stars & 10 drafts of Evolution / $5 John Daly drinks all ady
    • cornhole tournament on patio
  • Hill Country Backyard Barbecue (outside National Building Museum)
    • Free
    • doors open at noon
    • live music starts at 5p

Downtown

  • DNV (Donovan House Rooftop)
    • Free
    • Doors open at noon
    • fireworks streaming on big screen
    • boozy popsicles
  • Lincoln
    • $30 all-you-can-eat cookout
    • $5 Jack’s Hard Cider / $6 Port City Pilsner / $4 Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA / $4 Miller Lite / $3 PBR
    • $34 Emancipation Punch bowls
    • HH specials from 2-7p
    • Doors open at 2p
  • Cafe du Parc
    • Free patio party
    • $15 burgers/hot dogs/chicken & veggie wraps w/ cole slaw, chips & water
    • bluegrass musicians
    • Noon-8p, restaurant closes at 10:30p

Adams Morgan

  • Jack Rose
    • Free
    • “AmeriCAN Drink Dependence Day”
    • $4 Snake Dog & Easy IPA cans $5 Flying Dog drafts from noon-5p / $5 cans & $6 drafts from 5p-fireworks end
  • Cashion’s Eat Place
    • $40 All You Can Eat + one Cashion’s cocktail
    • Starts at 2p until food runs out or 6p
    • tons of great food
  • Town Tavern
    • Free
    • food specials
    • $3 domestic bottles / $4 rails / $5 draft pints till 6p
    • $5 donation to Wounded Warrior gets $3 domestic bottles / rails
    • $10 red, white, booze open bar from 9-10p
    • free first beer for military or veterans

H Street

U Street/Logan Circle

  • The Gibson
    • Free Gibson Family Reunion event
    • crab crack & cookout
    • $6 alcoholic popsicles & DJ on back patio
    • $1 veggie burgers + hot dogs
    • Noon-8p
  • Duffy’s Irish Pub
    • Free
    • $20 bottomless Sam Adams Summer & hot dogs from Noon-4p

Georgetown

Dupont Circle

Capitol Hill/Eastern Market

  • Barrel
    • Happy hour starts at 4p
    • $3 Bud and $5 American bourbon & whiskeys
  • Capitol Lounge
    • $25 all-you-can-eat Maryland crabs
    • 3-7p

Columbia Heights

  • The Heights
    • $9 boozy red, white, and blue floats all day
    • regular HH from 3-7p
  • Lou’s City Bar
    • $4 Redd’s & Miller Lite / $5 Blue Moon all day

On Saturday, about 15-20 folks joined Barred in DC for the 70 Bus World Cup Bar Tour, which was another smashing time. Despite the gray skies, the temperature was superb and the soccer was terrific (especially the Germany-Ghana second half). Once again a few folks had their first MetroBus experience.

Redline - first stop - pregame

Redline – first stop – pregame

 

We started off inside at Redline, where a crowd quickly materialized to enjoy 20% off the solid apps and $3 domestic drafts (including Goose Island 312, Shock Top and Bud Light) while watching the plethora of TVs on display (fun group of Ghana fans added to atmosphere).

Dacha Biergarten - second stop - second half of Germany-Ghana

Dacha Biergarten – second stop – second half of Germany-Ghana

At halftime, we caught the 79 MetroExtra bus and went two stops to join the the absolutely packed standing room only boisterous pro-German crowd at Dacha Biergarten. $8 half liters of various beers (including Schofferhofer’s grapefruit hefeweizen and Weihenstephaner varieties, the latter served in a cool, special World Cup glass; so cool that bouncers checked bags on the way out) were drunk amid a festive atmosphere with native German speakers along with babies getting into the action.

Bravo Bar - third stop - in between games

Bravo Bar – third stop – in between games

 

Next we took yet another 79 bus several stops to Bravo Bar, a new neighborhood spot in the eastern edge of Columbia Heights (area known as Pleasant Plains) with little online presence so we had no idea to what to expect. We found a spacious-feeling dive with a solid side patio located in an old pharmacy with awesome specials: BOGO (buy-one-get-one-free) drafts & rails from 5-8p for HH everyday, 1/2 off wings & pupusas ($2 for big order), and an all-night $6 special consisting of a PBR, shot of Beam and a hot dog. We also got to meet one of the brothers who own the joint, as he happily served us while we were there at the bar.

DC Reynolds - final stop - Nigeria v. Bosnia - pic of the dome in the back patio area

DC Reynolds – final stop – Nigeria v. Bosnia – pic of the dome in the back patio area

We then finally grabbed a 70 Bus to go a few blocks up to DC Reynolds in Park View (just south of Petworth). Although the projector for the now-sorta-legendary dome was out of commission, we enjoyed BOGO drinks (including our first caipirinha of the tournament) and some very good food (pork belly sandwich, grilled artichoke) while someone busted out the WatchESPN app on their phone so we caught the rest of the lackluster Nigeria-Bosnia matchup.  Good times (a few of us stayed out till midnight taking the 70 Bus back down to U Street for the DCist/Atlantic Plumbing block party, a beer on the great 1905 rooftop and nightcap beer at Right Proper).

More pics below:

Pointing to the first bus stop

Pointing to the first bus stop

Weihenstephan World Cup beer glass

Weihenstephan World Cup beer glass

Dacha across the street

Dacha across the street

Some of the attendees

Some of the attendees

Bravo Bar

Bravo Bar

Another view of Bravo Bar inside

Another view of Bravo Bar inside

Rock Em Sock Em

Rock Em Sock Em

Details of terrific happy hour at Bravo Bar

Details of terrific happy hour at Bravo Bar

entertaining sign at DC Reynolds

entertaining sign at DC Reynolds

Traveling on last Barred in DC Bus Tour

Traveling on last Barred in DC Bus Tour

Barred in DC will be hosting and leading yet another free bus bar tour on Saturday, June 21st, from 2:30p-8:00p. This time we will be traveling on the 70 Metrobus (Georgia Ave.-7th St. Line). We’ll start off in Penn Quarter/Chinatown, go up to Shaw, make a quick stop in Columbia Heights, and conclude in Petworth/Park View. As the World Cup will be in the thick of things (read our roundup of World Cup specials at 50+ DC bars here), we’ll be catching the action at some spots, many of which have specials for the games (Germany-Ghana at 3p, Nigeria-Bosnia at 6p).

Additional details, including the stops can be found at this page, which will be continually updated until the event. Hope to see you on June 21st!

If you missed the previous Barred in DC bus tours, read the recaps of the 90/92/96 and Circulator bus tours from last year.