Barred in DC Bar Madness Final Four Preview

As all sports are in the entire world are cancelled (except for the Belarus pro soccer league), the only thing left are fake sports. Barred in DC has done its part with 4 (5 if you include First Four) rounds of matchups in the Barred in DC Bar Madness. We are now down to the Final Four held this weekend, with some blockbuster matchups: Saturday – All Souls Bar v. The Blaguard and Sunday –  Ivy & Coney v. The Big Hunt. Tip-off around 9am each day for a 10 hour poll. Championship is Monday around 8am for 12 hours.

I’ve asked folks to submit their scouting reports of the bars and I’ve listed that along with their team sheet and ways to support the bar and their staff in this crisis.


All Souls Bar

725 T ST. NW, Website, Facebook (disused), Twitter, Instagram

Established: December 2013

Current Status: Closed.

Ways To Help: All Souls Employee Support Shop (gift certificates, shirts, posters, mugs, swag, donations). Committed to pay employees and these funds will assist.

Seed: #9 Overall, #3 Seed from DC Region, Shaw – North (auto-bid)

Road to Final Four: R64: #14 Walter’s (51-34), R32: #6 Franklin Hall (51-34), Sweet 16: #3 Bluejacket (48-44), Elite 8: #1 The Pug (44.9-44.5)

Scouting Report:

Ultimately the final four boils down to whether a cocktail bar should be considered the best bar in a city. To that end, All Souls is a top-tier representative. Resisting the $14+ drink trend is key, and being next to Pizza D’oro is the X-factor. Don’t even bother if there’s nowhere to sit, but that’s true of any cocktail spot. Location is perfect either for a first drink of the evening or a nightcap. -@johnmdav

-among DC’s best “just drinks” date spots due to laid-back-but-refined vibe and balanced wine/liquor/beer options
-well-situated as start/end-point for night out in Shaw or U St
-looking forward to seeing “coaching tree” develop with Little Grand  – @DtheGman

Trendy Without Pretention: Effortlessly cool. That’s how I would describe All Souls, with its minimalist interior/drink list, and its underrated outdoor space. Part of its greatness is in its design – simple and elegant, with industrial polished concrete floors and button-tufted booths and bar. The overall concept is like a Saban-coached defense – flawless in its execution. Its great service, fantastic cocktails, and reasonable prices make this a unique standout amongst the finalists. More upscale than its competitors, it’s more comparable to a University of Oregon with its quiet, flashy design.” – @espanole24

My favorite bar in DC. Love Dave and Mikey and all the folks there. – @barredindc

The Blaguard

2003 18th St. NW (at U St.), Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Established: 2005

Current Status: Open for pick-up or delivery (call 202-232-9005 for pickup or for both Chownow) Tues-Th 3-9p, Noon-10p Fri-Sat, possibly Noon-9p Sun. “Concession Stand” out of front window. In addition to food, $4 16 oz and $8 32 oz beer (lots of local craft options), cocktails (buy a single get a double), $5 bomb specials on weekend

Ways To Help: Order their food/drinks.

Donate to staffers on DC Virtual Tip Jar: Venmo (Steven Cresswell: @Steven-Cresswell; Alexander Makris: @Alexander-Makris-1, Talon Curtis: @Mr-Worm)

Seed: #61 overall, #16 Seed from Douglass Commonwealth Region, Adams Morgan (at-large)

Road to Final Four: First Four: #16 Slash Run (37-24), R64: #1 Copycat Co. (56-26), R32:  #8 The Midlands (53-33), Sweet 16: #5 Solly’s (49-40), Elite 8 (57-35)

Scouting Report:

For a lot of people I think Blaguard vs. Ivy and Coney comes down to whether you can better tolerate Adams Morgan overflow or Dacha overflow. I prefer Ivy and Coney, but I also live around the corner and it’s on the way home from work. If I could say the same for The Blaguard, it’d likely be my choice. – @johnmdav

-as seeding suggests, under-appreciated; feels like it lives in the shadow of other AdMo spots
-on the shortlist of spots to point people towards if they lament DC not having any good “regular-bar bars”
-but for a “regular-bar bar,” sneaky-good food and beer program -@DtheGman

“When Everyone Says It Can’t Be Done, The Blag Flies Together.” – Gordon Bombay, MD2: Full disclosure: when I moved to DC in 2011, I lived a block away from The Blaguard. In a city of transients, it was, and is (for myself and many hardcore regulars) home away from home. A constant conversation topic, my friends and I often try to pinpoint what makes The Blag so special. But that in itself is the appeal: it isn’t special, at all.  In a city full of bars trying to be something, The Blaguard is just…a bar. It’s kind of dive-y without being a dive. It’s got 20 taps but isn’t a craft beer bar. It can get packed for sports (especially DC teams) but isn’t a sports bar. And perhaps that’s it: The Blaguard gives everyone a little slice of something familiar. And their staff will treat you like family – always. The Blaguard is the Mighty Ducks of this tournament, and if 90’s sports movies taught you nothing, you should never bet against them. – @espanole24

Great neighborhood bar that is a great spot for DC sports, even the NFL team. Ably keeping alive the legacy of one of the all-time DC bars, the Common Share, formerly in the space. The #BlagFam has been incredible online – @barredindc

Ivy & Coney

1537 7th St. NW (at P), Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Established: Jan 2014

Current Status: Order for pickup on website, roughly 3-8p daily. Detroit-style pizza, dogs, Italian-beef sandwiches., $2-3/beer/seltzer ($10-15 6 pack), $300 keg of beer, $4 cans of wine/$14 packs, $24-33 bottles of liquor ($30 bottle of Malort), $3 shots in plastic ramekins

Ways To Help: Buy swag (shirts, hoodies) and gift cards to help staff.

Donate to staffers on DC Virtual Tip Jar: Venmo: Ami Patel: ampat07; Ben Schwartz: @benjamin-schwartz-9; Kevin Burke: @kevin-Burke-19; Rachel Fink: @rfink; Kya Masterson: @Kya-Coryn (Cashapp: $kyacm); Bryan Dorrian: @Bryan-Dorrian; John Becker: @WetDaddy; Chelsea Butler: @ChelsterB. CashApp: Damien Cephus: $ceph202 (paypal:; Luis Amaya: @luismaya06 (Paypal

Seed: #10 Overall, #3 Seed from DC Region, Shaw – North (at-large)

Road to Final Four: R64: #14 Duke’s Foggy Bottom (71-14), R32: #11 The Brig (53-36), Sweet 16: #2 Boundary Stone (49-43), Elite 8: #5 Churchkey (59-38)

Scouting Report:

Ivy is by and far the best bar in DC but on a sunny Sunday evening after brunch with friends pick somewhere else! The bartenders are always grumpy, you can’t pay with your dad’s black card and they are way too dedicated to trying to make the Detroit Tigers happen. Of course they have what it takes to win! But are they truly invested in the dream of becoming more than Dacha’s overflow seating? We will see this weekend – Selection Committee member @RachelAlexMay channeling Jay Bilas badmouthing anyone who isn’t Duke

I love Blaguard’s Cinderella run as a 16 seed, but for me the winner here is Ivy and Coney. Factors include the peanuts, the back patio (if you have friends who insist on getting some sunlight), the happy hour and prices overall, and the fact that it’s — as far as I know, now that Commodore closed — one of two places in the city with malort (other being Jackie Lee’s, last I checked). It’s the sort of place that has lore in spite of its relative youth. And on top of all that, it’s been throwing fundraisers for Bread for the City. The one strike against (besides the Dacha overflow) is that it’s cash only, but I get why. -@johnmdav

-may not be the most technically pure “dive,” but definitely on shortlist of “DC Dives”; can have peanuts + a dog + a few beers for <$20, solid afternoon/evening right there
-has CHI/DET emphasis of course, but hasn’t ever felt too parochial/unwelcoming in that regard, still very DC-proud too
-I suddenly feel the urge for a dipped Italian beef now -@DtheGman

Simplicity Done Right Another bar owner once told me over beers, “If I could do it all over again, I would do exactly what Ivy & Coney has done. It’s a simple concept with low overhead, and they execute it to perfection.” Who could disagree? It’s a dive bar/sports bar/pool hall/roof deck. They’ve got a limited food menu, a few draft beers, and the liquor lockers are a great additional touch as well. They’re the new kid on the block amongst thefinalists and are a program continually on the rise. Ivy & Coney falls into Clemson football territory, in that this new powerhouse should be expected to contend for titles for years to come. – @espanole24

Chicago and Detroit, two awesome places into one faux-now-real-dive-bar. Cash only still. Back patio, covered in bad weather, open in good, great place to watch sports during day when few people are there (smoking is allowed). Awesome Hanukkah pop-up bar. Drink Malort – @barredindc

The Big Hunt

1345 Connecticut Ave. NW (between Dupont Circle, 18th and N), Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Established: 1992

Current Status: Closed

Ways To Help: GoFundMe to support 20+ staff, split evenly

Donate to staffers on DC Virtual Tip Jar: Venmo: Mo Chahraoui: @Med-Chahraoui, Mary Doherty: @buttz, @Matthew Cima: @Matthew-Cima, Levon White: @vonvitto (Paypal:; Cashapp: $Vonvitto). Paypal: Jake Taylor:, Shawn Smith : Shonvpr@shon-vpr (maybe Cashapp)

Seed: #6 Overall, #2 Seed from The District Region, Dupont CIrcle – South (auto-bid)

Road to Final Four: R64: #15 Nanny O’Brien’s (67-22), R32: #10 McClellan’s Retreat (49-41), Sweet 16: #14 Showtime Lounge (60-31), Elite 8: #4 DC Reynolds (49-43)

Scouting Report:

Big Hunt, to me, feels like the weakest of the final four, but I also think a No. 2 seed was way too high to begin with. Maybe back when everyone was going out to M Street for Science Club etc., but it definitely isn’t in the same league as the other three and is probably riding some goodwill over the comedy shows. I don’t think it would have beaten Showtime if Showtime were in a different neighborhood, and it clearly benefited from facing off against a bar that for all practical purposes is closed (RIP DC Reynolds). – @johnmdav

-longest-standing program left in the FF, can still [sorta, at least] remember going there as intern back in 08 (imagine plenty of past or current interns can relate)
-under-appreciated as one of OG beer programs in town & as one of the more chill downtown-adjacent options
-between vibe, beers, shows, sports on tv, etc sort of has something for everyone -@DtheGMan

Former Heavyweight Looks to Recapture Glory: The Big Hunt is like the Miami Hurricanes (football) of DC bars. They can still play spoiler from time to time with great weapons like a solid draft lineup, comedy program, and happy hour – but the beer list has lost the luster of yesteryear when Eric Judycki was manning the lineup, and its foot traffic frequency has been hindered by its unfortunate location. Much like the Hurricanes in the ACC, being stuck in Dupont doesn’t help the Big Hunt’s chances of hoisting the trophy in 2020.” @espanole24

“One of the first bars that I tried craft beer (as well as Big Ass Brew), and enjoyed rustic hidden roof deck with some wild decor all over. A rare bar that people go when they’re 22 but also 42. -@barredindc

2 responses to “Barred in DC Bar Madness Final Four Preview”

  1. […] Select details below. Some information borrowed from stories in Washingtonian (see also) , Eater, and DCist. Food is required to be ordered. Places with creative offerings/good deals are highlighted. Listing all 68 bars in Barred in DC Bar Madness that are open. […]

  2. […] For more details on The Blaguard and the other 3 bars that made the Final Four, check out the preview.  All the credit goes to the amazing efforts by The Blaguard to rile up and mobilize its […]

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