UPDATE-Metrobar Receives Liquor License, Can Sell Booze Starting Saturday June 18th

Update Saturday morning from metrobar: So, we just received our ABRA license and will be open and serving beer and spirits today. We are still experiencing a staff shortage, and face issues today obtaining some of our regular menu products due to wholesalers being closed for the weekend. Our team is working this morning to see what that all looks like, but we ask for everyone’s patience as we navigate through that and back to normal operations next week.

Picture by author from July 2021 of metrobar
Updated statement from Friday afternoon. Bar will be open booze free

[post edited at 7am 6/17 to say metrobar says it has a c/o]

metrobar, the outdoor bar (featuring a Metro car that you can’t yet sit inside in) in an awaiting-development lot in the Bryant Street development in Edgewood next to the Rhode Island Avenue Metro, was ordered (5-1 vote) on Wednesday by the DC Alcohol Beverage Control Board to cease and desist alcohol sales on site, including storing alcohol on site and allowing caterers (with liquor licenses) from hosting events there. Due to this order, the bar cancelled its scheduled event Thursday night and closed, but as of now, still plans to have its weekend Juneteenth celebrations (sponsored-ironically(?)- in part by Mayor Bowser’s DC government). It’s unclear whether these celebrations will include booze or whether they’ll be able to resolve the issue this quickly.

metrobar has never been granted an actual liquor license. According to the ABC Board, this is because the bar has “failed to file various documents with ABRA, including a certificate of occupancy.” A c/o is intended to ensure that a building, structure, or land conforms to DC zoning regulations, DC construction codes, and green building rules. [EDIT-per bar they have an approved certificate of occupancy but that is not reflected on the DCRA website. To date, metrobar does not have a DCRA-approved certificate of occupancy.] ABRA investigators visited the bar two Fridays in a row (May 27th and June 3rd) and observed the bar open, despite the lack of c/o, and that “leftover alcohol being used by the caterer and stored” at metrobar was illegal. The ABC Board found “that the sale, service, and consumption of alcohol and a large gathering of people on a property without a certificate of occupancy potentially threatens the health, safety, and welfare of the public because the event site has not been approved for human occupation or use in accordance with various safety laws.”

So, instead of having a liquor license, does that mean metrobar has been operating as a speakeasy since it opened late spring 2021? No. ABRA has instead (possibly at its own suggestion) issued it a series of temporary 4 day licenses (usually Thu-Sun each week). Generally, metrobar (mostly in the name of co-owner Jesse Rauch) has called it “hosting neighborhood events to introduce itself to the community” or the name of the event itself. In once instance, the ABC Board approved 5 weekends of these temporary licenses at one time. These licenses are typically referred to “one day licenses’ but in fact can be approved for up to 4 days and are designed for “banquets, picnics, bazaars, fairs or similar public gatherings.” Outdoor events using temporary licenses DO NOT require a certificate of occupancy. Note that temporary liquor licenses cost $300/day so metrobar has been paying a whopping $1200 a week (possibly costing them up to $45,000(!) in liquor license fees) for these temporary liquor licenses when a fully approved liquor license for a spot like metrobar would normally cost no more than roughly $4,000/year.

The ABC Board/ABRA issued these temporary licenses for over 10 months, first approving them for use in May 2021 (possibly earlier) and then last approving a batch of temporary licenses through April 3, 2022 on February 2nd, 2022 (see pages 21-23). However, a month later, when metrobar came back to seek approval for several one-off events (including a WAMU/WABA mayoral/Council chair forum) in March, the ABC Board/ABRA denied those requests (unclear why). Based on what happened in late May/early June, it seems metrobar tried to keep their bar open by possibly hiring caterers with liquor licenses, which would be doable but each caterer would have to bring their own booze and serve food along with it.

My understanding is that whatever issues DCRA had to prevent it from issuing a certificate of occupancy have been resolved: metrobar’s official certificate of occupancy application was submitted on June 8th (for a bar/beer garden fitting up to 399 people), and it’s pending review. [bar says they have one]. So, there’s a chance this will be resolved soon. Stay tuned.

Where to Watch Thursday’s House Jan 6th Primetime Hearing

The U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol is having its first public hearing this Thursday, June 9th, at 8pm eastern time. All the broadcast networks you can get with a $15 antenna will show it and it will streamed live for free by the committee, but in true-one-particular-segment-of-DC fashion, many of you (1 out of 9) want to watch this with like-minded friends and strangers in public like it’s a sporting event or Jeopardy (despite it being a deadly and destructive day that is still traumatic to many).

Although I find things like this to be one of the more unappealing things about DC, since there’s a lot of interest, here’s a list of spots confirmed so far:

  • The Midlands (Park View)
  • Shaw’s Tavern
  • Union Pub (Cap Hill)

Barred in DC’s Parents’ Day Out – Friday Afternoon June 3rd – POSTPONED

If you have one of these, this event is aimed for you, but no need to bring them

THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED

All people who don’t suck are welcome, but if you’re a parent with your kid(s) at day care, school, or with a caregiver at home (nanny, au pair, relative, iRoomba), this event is particularly for you – the inaugural Barred in DC Parents’ Day Out is coming to the Navy Yard/Capitol Riverfront, Friday June 3rd.

Festivities begin at 1:30pm (yes, on a weekday-you can take off work for this, your job is probably not that important).

We’ll be at 3 different outdoor locations just feet apart along the Anacostia River. Feel free to stop by at one, two, or all three spots for this meet-up.

  • The Salt Line
    • 1:30p – 2:45p
    • Reserved a few hi-top tables in outdoor bar area
    • “Friday ‘Happy Afternoon’ Specials from noon-4p: 1/2 off local oysters / $5 Gansett lager draft or Shandy 16 oz. can / $7 wine glass / $30 wine bottle / $7 draft cocktail
  • Solace Outpost Navy Yard
    • 2:45p – 4p
    • Will set up outdoors in covered patio
    • HH M-F 3-6p (will start early for us): $3 off all drafts, $6 rails / $6 wine
  • All-Purpose Capitol Riverfront
    • 4p – 5:15p (or later, you don’t have to leave)
    • roof deck
    • HH until 7p M-F: $5 all drafts, $7 wine, $9 cocktails, $10 pizza

Hope to see you there!

Tips for Bar Etiquette – According to DC Bartenders

Bartender at the defunct Thomas Foolery

A former bartender recently reached out to Barred in DC saying he had quit the industry for a desk job “because of the way people were talking/treating me. Hurling insults, slurs, etc… All these experiences took a great toll on my mental [health] and I had to quit.” He also said that as places began to reopen fully during the pandemic “people seemed ruder, more irritated…[m]ost places just started to throw bodies [of brand new] bartenders” and that didn’t help. Often bartenders were working 12+ hour shifts 3 nights in a row on weekends.

He suggested that I publish a post of bartender tips for etiquette at bars. Below reflect (as edited) his thoughts, the thoughts of his former colleagues, and other bartenders in the industry who reached out to me. This is focused on bars and drink ordering-Laura Hayes-the former Washington City Paper food writer- had a good piece about both restaurants and bars and how to be a better customer.

Many of these seem obvious but you would be surprised.

General

  1. Be kind above all.
  2. Say please and thank you.
  3. Treat the establishment like you are going to a good friend’s house who is hosting.
  4. Be patient/understanding/compassionate when supplies/staff are short due to pandemic and current events.
  5. Realize that you are in public and the staff will take note of ill-mannered guests.

Pre-Ordering

  1. Read the menu (if there is one available) before ordering or asking about recommendations.
  2. Wait for the bartender to look directly at you/make eye contact/say something to you before you start speaking/ordering. If they are clearly engaged in another activity, don’t yell at them. Yelling at your bartender when they’re not even facing you is quite rude.
  3. Snapping your fingers to get bartender attention is not appreciated.
  4. If you’re looking at your phone while standing at the bar waiting, you may not be considered “next in line” and bartender may not ask you for your order.
  5. If the place is slammed, and you’re a regular and know the bartenders’ name, don’t abuse your privilege by yelling out their name (other guests will then try to jump in using their name) or using the name drop to get the bartenders’ attention to strangers.
  6. Don’t wait in line for ten minutes and then take ten minutes to make up your mind on what you want to drink.

Ordering

  1. Don’t expect bartenders to know the price of every drink possible off the top of their head.
  2. Have broadly basic idea of what you want – bartenders don’t generally mind helping narrow down if you have a couple choices, but in most establishments (that aren’t nice cocktail or wine bars) and particularly when spots are busy, bartenders prefer not to have a long drawn-out conversation about every single drink menu item.
  3. Know where you are when ordering; for example, you can try to order a specific varietal of wine at a dive bar, but recognize at most l they’ll have a very limited selection (red or white), and don’t complain/make a fuss if they don’t.
  4. If you make a special request (e.g, make your spicy Margarita extra spicy), tell the bartender that you won’t be sending the drink back no matter what.

Tipping

  1. Tipping on comp items: at a minimum, tip on the normal price of the drink. Several bartenders said generally tip 1/2 drink price or add a flat number to full bar tab.
  2. If a drink is discounted due to HH/other special/Groupon, tip like you would if the drink was full price.
  3. Tipping a buck for a beer or $2 for a nice cocktail if you’re just ordering one is OK/non-terrible behavior/bare minimum but always tip 20% minimum if you’re doing a tab or multiple rounds.
  4. If you camp out at the bar but aren’t ordering to match your time, tip extra (even if the bar is empty).

Afterwards

  1. Be aware of last call/closing time and respect that staff want to go home. Sitting there deep in conversation with one last sip in your drink while the lights have been on and music off for 20 minutes is rude.
  2. If there’s a bar back, bring your empties to them, not the bartender.
  3. Stay out of the corners/exits/service stations of the bar space when ordering/drinking/hanging out.
  4. When bar seating is close to full, saving seats for longer than 5-10 minutes is taking money out bartenders’ pockets. And definitely don’t put your bag/purse/etc in a seat at a full bar even when you’re not saving the seat for others.
  5. Refrain from asking the bartender their name and introducing yourself unless you’ve been there awhile or you’ve been served by them multiple times. Bartenders realize most are being polite but it can be triggering “Bad Yelp Review” vibes.

Not really ettiquette, but several bartenders who contributed said that aside from customers, bad culture in management really had a detrimental impact on their work experiences.

Cinco de Mayo in DC 2022

Photo by Sabel Blanco on Pexels.com

Here’s a roundup of spots in DC and their plans for Thursday, May 5th 2022

Mexican (or Mexican adjacent) Spots

  • Mission Dupont
    • open at noon w/ DJ
    • $5.50 16 oz Pacifico drafts / Dos Equis bottles. $7 Disparos Blanco shots. $10 Patron Blanco shots. $30 margarita pitchers. $9 Mission Margs
    • $2 chips/salsa; $8.50 cheese quesadilla; $9 chipotle chicken rollups + other food specials
  • Mission Navy Yard
    • open at noon w/ DJ
    • $5.50 16 oz Pacifico drafts / Dos Equis bottles. $7 Disparos Blanco shots. $10 Patron Blanco shots. $30 pitchers. $9 Mission Margs
    • $2 chips/salsa; $8.50 cheese quesadilla; $9 chipotle chicken rollups + other food specials
  • Salazar (14th St)
    • open at noon w/ DJ
    • $5.50 16 oz Pacifico drafts / Dos Equis bottles. $7 Disparos Blanco shots. $10 Patron Blanco shots. $30 pitchers.
    • $2 chips/salsa; $8.50 cheese quesadilla; $9 chipotle chicken rollups + other food specials
  • El Rey (U St)
    • open at 2p
    • 4p mariachi band
    • special margs, ice luge
  • El Centro D.F. (Georgetown)
    • HH 4-10p (normally 4-7p
    • $6 Mexican beer / $5 house wine / $7 marg / $8-9 sangria
    • $3.50 tacos / $6 chicken quesadilla / $6 nachos / $6 tortilla soup
    • live music + dancing 10p-c;lose
  • Tico (14th St)
    • open by 3p
    • $5 margs / ranch water
    • $5 nachos / BBQ ribs / twin taco
  • Paraiso (Cap Hill)
    • open at noon
    • $8 shot of Jose Cuervo / Sombra Mezcal; $9 classic margarita
    • $40 pre fixe menu
    • Mariachi band
  • dLena (Mt Vernon Square)
    • 5-11p
    • special menu items
    • Dahlia Resposado Margs downstairs . Live jazz and bossa nova

Non-Mexican Spots

  • Toro Toro (Downtown)HH 3-10p
    • $7 margs, $6 Mexican beers
    • $7-10 food options
    • Pan Latin Small bites
    • DJ/dancing downstairs from 10p-close
  • The Roost/Shelter (Cap Hill)
    • 4-10p
    • $5 craft-brewed Mexican lagers
    • several margs / agave flight / single spirit pours
  • Victura Park at the Reach (Foggy Bottom)
    • special HH 5-7
  • Flash (Shaw)
    • $20 entry on eventbrite for not sure why
  • Hotel Hive (Foggy Bottom)
    • 4-8p roof deck party ($20 – eventbrite)
    • taco buffet
    • marg/beer specials (Don Julio and Modelo)
    • mariachi
  • Andy’s Pizza NoMa at Streets Market
    • $35 open bar from 5-7p (unlimited margs, classic Mexican beer, and some limited release craft Mexican lagers (include new collab with Burnish)
    • tickets include Mexican-themed pizza slices
    • Eventbrite tickets
  • Living Room (Downtown)
    • HH 6-10p
    • $5 Mexican beer / tequila shooters. $30 beer bucket
    • Live mariachi
  • Right Spot (shaw)
    • HH 6p-midnight
    • $5 tequila shots / $3 Corona beer / $6 margs / $35 tequila pitcher
    • $5 tacos
  • Decades (Dupont)
    • 8p – close
    • $8 tequila shots / $6 margs / $3 Coronas all night
    • 8p-10p: $4 shots / $5 margs

Farmbird Appears to Have Closed Permanently

Farmbird, the fast casual grilled chicken spot which first opened on H Street NE in August 2017, expanding following $1 million investment to Penn Quarter (Feb 2021) and Ballston (June 2021) with Navy Yard and others to come, appears to have permanently closed all of its locations as of Wednesday, April 27th.

Sources spotted appliances being wheeled out of the H Street location today, Arlnow reported last week about an auction which also required winning bidders to remove equipment from Ballston location today (reportedly Ballston employees were told Easter Sunday about the permanent closure). The Penn Quarter location wasn’t accepting orders today and someone said a “closed for maintenance” sign was on the door, which is usually a telltale sign.

After a Bitter Fight, Eighteenth Street Lounge Gets Its Liquor License to Reopen in Shaw on 9th St NW

Eighteenth Street Lounge, which announced in June 2020 that it was permanently closing after 25 years in Dupont, and then instead announced in June 2021 that it was relocating to a 5,000 square foot (half the size of original space) property off Blagden Alley in Shaw (near 9th and N NW), has faced a bitter fight in its liquor license application, facing protests from FOUR different entities/groups: 1) ANC 2F, 2) the Blagden Alley Naylor Court Assocation (BANCA), 3/4) two separate groups of 5+ neighbors/property owners. BANCA requested that the application be denied (though in alternative, suggested conditions).

Last week, the Alcohol Beverage Control Board voted to approve ESL’s tavern liquor license application, with a number of conditions:

  • Roof deck bar must close at 10:30p Sun-Thu nights, midnight Fri-Sat
    • ESL had sought full legal closing of 2a/3a. BANCA asked for 10p closing daily on roof deck, and 1a indoors
    • ABC Board said this was warranted because ESL couldn’t construct a barrier on roof facing the Blagden Alley; patrons on roof may yell and cause unexpected noise; and opening/closing roof door – escaping music indoors “may create notise that disturbs nearby residents during traditioal sleeping hours.”
  • Live entertainment (live music and DJs) prohibited outside
    • ESL was not requesting this anyways
    • ABC Board imposed “to prevent excessive noise reverberating through the alley”
  • Blagden Alley entrance/exit can only be used for emergencies; customers have to enter/exit on 9th St NW
    • ESL did not object to this
    • ABC Board imposed because “patrons traversing the alley late at night may disturb residents if they engage in loud talking, loitering, yelling, or fighting”
  • Business required to comply with sound consultant recommendations
    • ESL says they plan on spending $200,000 for soundproofing
  • Spot must file a security plan and comply with it.

Although the ABC Board said it was not “ripe for consideration,” it did reference BANCA’s allegations (yes they issued a press release) that ESL’s owner, Faird Nouri (sole owner since 2008), engaged in criminal conduct and other disorderly behavior after the close of the record in the case. The allegations stemming from an March 21st incident were detailed in Washingtonian – Nouri late night blasted music, sirens, horns from his Tesla in Blagden Alley to “disturb and intimidate the Protestants” and allegedly slammed a car door on someone’s (adult?) son’s leg. BANCA also noted that “various members of the community” had obtained protective orders against Nouri (per source they weren’t actually successful). The ABC Board said it wouldn’t reopen the record because MPD was investigating and did not want to interfere with an active police investgiation. But it also said that “a future criminal conviction related to these allegations could lead” to a suspension, revocation, or a finding of bad character in a future renewal proceeding.

These were not the first allegations in the process-earlier in 2022, there was an allegation that ESL (or someone on ESL’s behalf) engaged in witness tampering-the ABC Board didn’t pause the case but referred it for investigation.

The ABC Board said that the property’s location across the street from the Convention Center and served by public transportation means that the “location is generally suitable for nightclub and other nightclub activities.” The Board did not agree with protestants to restrit use of cover charge, valet, or dance floor, saying that ESL “has demonstrated the ability to operate a nightclub in the past.” It did not restrict interior hours because lack of “evidence that activity inside the premises will disturb the surrounding neighborhood” and no one could use the alley entrance/exit.

The space will fit up to 268 indoors and up to 48 on roof deck (with bar). First floor will have a stage; the bar Never Looked Better (also a source of BANCA complaints) is in the basement.

DC Fraternal Order of Police Fined $2,000 For Illegal Jack Daniels Import/Resale Scheme

Updated 4/25 with a liquor license attorney’s thoughts

The DC Alcohol Beverage Control Board approved a settlement on Wednesday between the DC Government and the DC Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) following the Washington Post’s November 2021 triple-byline (including one Pulitzer Prize winner) investigative story that reported that the lodge bought, engraved with the FOP logo, and then resold 3,000 $80 bottles of Jack Daniel’s whiskey all across the country, all without a permit or really any legal permission from 2017-2020. The story is full of legal experts who are incredulous about the legality, and hints that FOP was in danger of losing their liquor license. In December, the Post reported that ABRA confirmed that the FOP indeed violated the law.

Not even close – the FOP agreed to a $2,000 fine, $1,000 each for the violations of failing to import alcohol without a license and selling alcohol for off-premises consumption.

Legendary Italian-American DC liquor license attorney/exurban resident/Twitter personality Richard Bianco explained that the small fine wasn’t actually out of line:

Board usually treats a course of conduct as 1 violation and fines about the min. If they wildly depart from that it won’t hold up. People hate cops abusing authority but from an ABC POV this is a standard deal.

Where to Get Best Onion Rings in DC

Brookland’s Finest onion rings (credit: Twitter user AnjaliVBhatt)

Crowdsourced via Twitter- best onion rings in DC. Onion straws and other variations not mentioned.

Most Mentioned

  • Brookland’s Finest
    • $7 (or +$3 upcharge to sandwiches)
    • Tempura onion rings
  • Buck’s Fishing and Camping (Forest Hills)
    • $12
    • Vickie’s Famous Onion Rings & Smokey Dip
  • Garden District (14th/Logan Circle)
    • $6
    • “light and crispy breading without the heavy greasiness of diner-style onion rings.”
  • Zburger (Tenleytown, Dupont, PQ)
    • $6 (or $7 for 1/2 fries and 1/2 onion rings)
    • Good when fresh

Multiple Mentions

  • Slash Run (Petworth)
    • $4 ($7 for large)
    • Brew battered onion rings served with slashsauce
  • Tune Inn (Cap Hill)
    • $7(?)
    • Thinly sliced, dipped, battered
  • Hank’s Oyster Bar (Dupont, The Wharf)
    • $8
    • Fried onion rings

Also mentioned: Bonchon, Stoney’s, Annie’s, burgerIM, Mr. Henry’s

Suburbs but lots of love: Franklin’s (buttermilk soaked w/ touch of Old Bay, Hyattsville), Hard Times (various)

DC Bars For Those Age 25 and Under Late Night Weekends

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

As I noted in the recently published list of DC bars where 35+ could feel comfortable going out even at 11p on a weekend night, it would probably be easier to make a list of the spots where the majority of the patrons are 25 or under (roughly Generation Z at this poitn) late night (after 11p) on weekends. So’s here’s a partially crowd-sourced list of spots below. You can use this list if:

  • You’re 21-25 and want to goto spots that are mostly the same age as you;
  • You’re over 25 and want to feel like you’re 22 again
  • You’re any age and want to avoid places where there are a lot of 22 year olds or other people who don’t look like they’re old enough to legally drink

Note that at all almost all of these spots there are still a significant number of customers in the upper 20s/early 30s age frame, and often a few folks older, and the crowd can be very different earlier in the night or on weekdays. So if you don’t like going to places with young’ns, don’t write all of these spots off at all times.

Who else am I missing? Disagree? Tweet/DM at @barredindc or DM @therealbarredindc on Instagram or email barredindc@gmail.com or drop a comment below

Dupont (“Midtown” “Club Central”)

  • Madhatter
  • Sauf Haus
  • Decades
  • Sign of the Whale (temporarily closed)
  • Public Bar
  • Mission
  • Zebbie’s Garden

Adams Morgan

  • Shenanigan’s
  • Town Tavern
  • Johnny Pistolas
  • Grand Central
  • Madam’s Organ (band/floor dependent)
  • Dan’s Cafe
  • Club Heaven and Hell

14th/U St/Logan Circle

  • Hawthorne
  • 801
  • Takoda
  • The Brixton
  • Player’s Club
  • Nellie’s
  • El Rey (67% agree)
  • Salazar

H Street

  • Dirty Water

Georgetown

  • The Tombs

Downtown/Chinatown/Penn Quarter

  • Ultrabar
  • Rocket Bar

Columbia Heights

  • The Wonderland Ballroom (2nd floor) (73% agree)

Navy Yard

  • Mission Navy Yard

Suggested but not added: Franklin Hall (57% say it should be on list), Little Miss Whiskeys 2nd floor (51%), Recessions (52%), Cafe St Ex basement, Chicken + Whiskey “speakeasy” (35%), Madams Organ (40%)