[Ed. Note: No matter whether you go out to a bar in DC (check out the comprehensive guide here) or somewhere else in the world to ring in the 3rd decade of this century, please enjoy yourself as well as respect the folks serving you. Here’s a list of rules shared by Chrissy, a bartender on H Street, that you should follow.]
1. Bought tickets for an open bar? You still need to tip your bartender when you order drinks
2. Just because it’s an open bar doesn’t mean you can’t get cut off, don’t get mad if this happens – know your limits
3. If you do throw up, toilets and trash cans only – then leave the bar
4. When the lights come up – it’s time to go home, your bartender does not want to have a drink with you
5. It doesn’t matter how old you are – when you are asked for your ID, show it to the bouncer/bartender
6. When ordering for a group, have all your orders ready at once (we can remember more than one drink order at a time)
7. Have some patience – we will get to you, you won’t die of thirst, I promise
8. It’s cute to kiss your partner at midnight, but no one wants to watch you make-out for 20 minutes
9. Leave the cheesy NYE party favors at home ie: noisemakers, beads, silly hats etc. Your countdown screaming is bad enough
Essentially every bar keeps a bottle of whiskey, gin, vodka, rum, tequila, and usually a triple sec (for margs and LIT’s) somewhat hidden within easy reach of the bartender right behind the bar counter. These liquors-the cheapest stuff a bar carries-aren’t consistent in level of quality across bars, as, for example, some bars may use Bowman’s vodka while others may go with Tito’s (see this piece about bartenders who chose fancier). In Barred in DC’s coverage area, 3 out of 4 people (and even higher proportion of bars, in Barred’s experience) call such drinks rails. [Note: Although bars advertise these as rail drinks, if you ask any bartender, even in DC, refers to the area of the bar where the drinks are as “the well.”]
However, as evidenced from my Twitter mentions, the term “rail” is overwhelmingly supplanted by the term “well drink” in most of the U.S. I was curious where rails also prevailed, but unlike many regional differences in American English linguistics (popularly chronicled by this New York Times quiz in 2013), I found no articles noting where each was told, so I tried to fix that.
Based on my research, it appears, there are at least five states (plus DC) where rail is used primarily instead of well:
Land of the Rail
Virginia (Richmond at least)
North of the border, in Toronto, the phrase “bar rail drink” is most popular, and in Montreal (at least English-speaking) uses term “speed rail drink.”
Per Twitter feedback and research, there are other places in the U.S. where it seems “well” still dominates but rail isn’t unheard of: St. Louis, Indianapolis, Chicago (not surprising given WI and MN proximity), West Virginia, and New York City (transplant bars from other spots)
The Sheppard, Instagram, Twitter the faux speakeasy-style cocktail bar last seen south of Dupont Circle before it closed in January after almost five years due to redevelopment of the property, is making a comeback-this time (almost certainly) in Mount Pleasant.
Although a lease was signed and announced in mid-November, its location has not yet been revealed. However, thanks to Barred in DC’s eagle-eye and all-around internet dominating sleuthing skills, it appears very likely that the new bar will be on the 2nd floor of a building on the 3100 block of Mt. Pleasant St. NW. The location is possibly 3165 Mt Pleasant NW (above a dentists office in space previously occupied by AboveZest, travel agency/party venue, and Boveda Tribal Art for awhile before that) or one of the buildings between it and the building housing Mola and Purple Patch (3155) a few doors down. Instagramposts held clues which were confirmed by use of Google Maps Street View.
Given the IG posts show nothing has been constructed and no liquor license apparently is approved yet for the space, don’t expect this spot to open until well into 2020. But this should be a welcome development for neighbors, as the last cocktail bar (Last Exit, same block) in the area closed in 2014. The bar (owned in part by David Strauss) also announced that Dylan Zehr, former head bartender at The Sheppard (as well as sister bar Morris in Shaw) is now also a co-owner; Zehr is currently slinging drinks at Room 11 and Columbia Room until The Sheppard opens.
The hidden spot in Dupont had really good value cocktails ($12) despite having no menu (you just told bartender what flavors/spirits you felt like and they whipped something up). Unclear if the new location will have same concept, but expect it to be a cocktail bar.