You’ve probably read Lavanya Ramanathan’s fun article posted this morning (July 10th) on the Washington Post’s website. The article, entitled “As D.C. dive bars go extinct, summer interns find Washington less welcoming” is notable for both its thesis that there are fewer cheap intern bars for young adults to get their swill on for little money as well as fulfilling the newspaper’s destiny to make sure Democracy does not die in Darkness to unmask the name (though still sounds made up amirite) of Barred in DC (me and PFTCommenter-RIP Eric-have a lot in common). Excited to be in the Post after nearly a 5 year hiatus.
But is the concept true? My quotes are legit, though I also told Lavanya in same conversation that I don’t actually know if there are that fewer intern bars. Instead it just feels that way because 1) there are wayy more nice cocktail / beer bars that don’t cater to 21-24 year olds and 2) people who feel this way have gotten older and stopped going to those cheap bars so we don’t necessarily know where the interns are/or going. Younger folks still make it to the newly re-opened Sign of the Whale, Madhatter, and Front Page in Dupont, Dan’s Cafe in Adams Morgan; Hamilton’s Bar & Grill ($1 PBR & High Life all day Friday), Tortilla Coast, Bullfeathers, Capitol Lounge, and Union Pub on the Hill (and probably others, again, as the piece said, I don’t really goto those bars that much anymore). Dirty Water, the new ramshackle Boston sports bar in mid H St NE is run by the folks who used to run Rhino Bar in Georgetown and offers a $20 open bar from 7-10p on Fridays during the summer and specifically markets to interns. Sure, McFadden’s, My Brother’s Place, Brass Monkey/Roxanne’s/Spaghetti Garden, Millie & Al’s, Chief Ike’s, and Asylum have shut down, but there are still spots there.
Also, one quibble with headline and some of the language in the story: intern bars aren’t necessarily really all “dive” bars, instead more typically 24 years and younger meat markets with sticky floors and dancing areas with cheap drinks. All in all, it’s worth reading and discussing at the bar with your fancy $14 cocktail or $9 local craft beer, like my friends did over text/e-mail/Facebook.
P.S. Also, if you’re a fake journalist or not a journalist and are curious how the sausage is made: I got an e-mail out of the blue from the reporter 3 weeks ago asking if I had time to chat about the intern bar scene and how it’s dissipated. I replied saying I would be happy to chat but I bet her co-worker Fritz Hahn would know better or just as well as me. She still said she wanted to get my perspective and we had a nice phone chat for 10 minutes the next day. I’m guessing this is the norm (and I have no problem with it) for fun, trend pieces like this but I got the sense she already had an angle (intern bars are disappearing) and was trying to nudge me with her questions to agree (which I did, at least for some of the quotes you see).
Mrs. Barred in DC and I recently spent an amazing couple days over the July 4th holiday in the other Portland, the one in Maine. Hopping a $200 non-stop flight from DCA on American Airlines (you can also drive there in 10 hours or so from DC), we found a more blue-collar/hipster town (lots of tattoos and cigarette smoke-smelling Uber/Lyfts) than expected with fantastic food and beer, beautiful views, and friendly locals. Here are some recommendations/thoughts:
There are a ton of breweries in Maine, many of them in the Portland area. The breweries not only focus on the now ubiquitous hazy New England IPA but also lots of Belgian-style ales (saisons, farmhouse ales and the like).
Allagash -You’ve surely drunk their famous Belgian White. Stop by the brewery about at 15 minute ($12 Uber/Lyft) ride out from downtown to sample the other popular saisons, sours, farmhouse ales and other Belgian-style beers in pretty fancy digs. The free 1-hour long tour is popular and available daily. We got the $5 pre-set flight (changes regularly but likely always comes with the White)-4 3 oz. pours. $4 pours of all beers are available (6 oz-10 oz. usually) with $2.50 half pours.
Bunker – In isolated area in Libbytown west of downtown (about 10 min/$8 Uber/Lyft). Located in 1920s-era garage (no A/C so sweltering when we went). Ping pong table is nice.
Shipyard – A few blocks east of downtown. Not necessarily a “cool” brewery but we had the most fun there at Maine’s #1 by volume brewery. Lots of fun merchandise, several sodas on tap for the kids, and a mix of NE IPAs and fruited beers (the latter from Sea Dog Brewing which it owns and brews).
Oxbow Blending and Bottling – Best beer we had in Portland. Technically brewed about an hour away with some finishing done at the location. Great farmhouse stuff. In the heart of the Munjoy Hill neighborhood, walkable from downtown or $6 Uber/Lyft. 4 oz. pours $2-3, 8 oz. pours $3.50-5, 12 oz. pours $5-7.
Sebago – Local brewery chain in the bottom of a Hampton Inn. ($3.50 pints available on Wednesdays) Spot to wait while waiting for seats at Eventide (see below)
Gritty McDuff’s: Brewpub in heart of downtown. Mugs adorned on the wall. Beer isn’t remarkable but convenient location $5 pints at HH.
Spots we didn’t visit:
Note that across the street from Allagash are a number of microbreweries (Definitive, Battery Steele, Foundation) and a distillery (New England Distillery). Geary is also walking distance from Allagahs. None of these were open when we visited (we went on the 4th) but I’ve heard several are great.
Walking distance from downtown (in addition to Shipyard, Seabago, and Gritty’s mentioned above). Next door to Oxbow is Maine Mead Works and Hardshore Distilling and less than 10 minute walk away is Rising Tide Brewery and Maine Craft Distilling. A bit further are Urban Farm Fermentory (Gruitt), Lone Pine, and Goodfire. Also right in heart of downtown is Liquid Riot Bottling, which serves its own beer and liquor. Elsewhere in the greater Portland area are the acclaimed Bissell Brothers and many other breweries (see map)
Portland has incredible food. Although there are tons of options, most spots don’t accept reservations and we had to wait for tables on a random Thursday afternoon (albeit July 4th week) at 2pm.
Eventide Oyster Bar – Cool, tiny spot east of downtown. Fantastic famous brown butter lobster roll and incredible selection of oysters. Great cocktails as well. Super popular – we had a 90 minute wait on July 3rd at 8:30pm
Central Provisions – Recent James Beard nominee for Best New Restaurant, inventive spot in heart of downtown. We had an awesome fried pork special.
High Roller Lobster Co. – Recently a food cart, now a popular brick and mortar spot. Very popular, sort of decked out a dinner. Great $19 lobster roll
Duckfat – Amazing duckfat-fried frites available at original location near downtown or in patio area of Oxbow. Recommend the donut holes as well. More substantial meals available at old location.
Holy Donut – Super popular (20 minute wait in line when I went) spot cranking out tasty potato donuts until they sell out in early afternoon. Honestly, I would say a bit overrated, we enjoyed Duckfat’s donut holes better.
The Gelato Fiasco – Gelato spot right with tons of varieties.
Spots We Didn’t Visit But Were Recommended: Hot Suppa!, Empire Chinese, Petite Jacqueline, Fore Street, Scales, Bayside American, Bite into Maine, Miyake, Street & Co., Hugos, Slab, Otto Pizza, Walters, Bao Bao
Get started early, as bars have to close at 1a every night.
Novare Res Bier Cafe – hidden off alley/parking lot in downtown, spot sports a huge beer list and large beer gardne
Union – Restaurant with great cocktails in the stylish Press Hotel.
Amigo’s – Although this is your typical trashy kind of scuzzy meat market bar, the deck out back is perfect for live music (most nights/week during summer). Had a ton of fun.
Pearl – nightclub downtown. Entertaining late night.
RiRa – bar right off water, good spot for pre-cruise beer (local Portland breweries on tap)
Bars We Didn’t Visit But Were Recommended: The North Point, Bull Feeney’s, The Portland Hunt + Alpine Club, Petite Jacqueline, Bearded Lady’s Jewel Box, The Snug
Things to Do
Since we were there over the 4th, we took a booze cruise on the Casco Bay Lines ferry. $30 for a 3.5 hour cruise, cash bar (cash only but $6 pints of Allagash White and $5 rails), and the legendary(?) DJ HAUNT (also known as “Dave”) who entertained the mostly 40s/50s somethings with 70s music and other not-so-fresh hits. Amazing fireworks though (the Portland show off the East Promenade is over a half hour long followed by another 10-15 minute show closer to downtown). We also sailed with the Portland Schooner Co.; $45 for a relaxing 2 hour sail the next morning. The Casco Bay is beautiful with a couple forts, other islands, and lighthouses to see.
We stayed at Hyatt Place Old Port due to its convenience and fact it only cost 12,000 Hyatt points a night. (transfer from your Chase Sapphire card). Free hotel airport shuttle saved us about $15/each way. Would recommend.
We just had a drink there, but the Press Hotel near the Portland City Hall in downtown is awesome. The hotel used to be the offices of the local newspaper and they went all out with the theme. If you are really into newspapers, highly recommend staying there or stopping by.
If you want to stay closer to all the close-in breweries, the Hampton Inn and Residence Inn are good bets.
Idle Hands [Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, 1236 H St. NE, open at 6p, est. 2018] is a solid addition to H Street from Hill bar owner Erik Holzherr. Idle Hands comes to the space that was the super (overly?) chill Church & State. Erik also ran Church & State so the space is still recognizable and many of the cool church-like touches (like windows and the confessional room off the bar) and the relative lack of light remain. Think board games (available for rent for a few bucks except from 6-7:30p M-F and Sun when they’re free), a few arcade games you can sit your drink on, video games. Unlike Church & State, which offered great cocktails which took forever to make, Idle Hands menu is simplified, with a list of 7 quick and easy (but still tasty) $9-11 cocktails named after late 80s/90s movies, 2 housemade shots (“fireball” & “coffee liqueur”), about 14 types of canned/bottled beer (mostly around $7), and wine ($8-11/glass). Happy hour runs 6-7:30p M-F and Sun with a buck off wine and beer and $5 off bottles of wine.
Holzherr made the place much livelier, enlisting his friend to create speakers made out of cardboard and pumping out 90s tunes. You could call Idle Hands a more adult/less divey version of Atlas Arcade downstairs (also run by Holzherr, who appears to own the rowhouse, as he does his SE gin joint Wisdom).
Also, you may have heard the controversy stemming from marketing materials/interviews which talked about the bar being a “sexy nerd bar,” Drunken Twister (which incidentally may be hard to play since space is so tight) and infamously, the “casting couch” (Read DCist, WCP). The bar was blasted in social media and in Frozen Tropics blog comments, which led to a post by Erik on The Hill is Home blog apologizing but defending himself from the “anonymity of the Internet.” As someone who has met Erik many times (I live near Wisdom and am a lifetime member of the bar’s Gin Club), the vibe people are getting from those descriptions is different than the super chill, laid back dude I’ve met, so I’m giving the benefit of the doubt, but I understand if others are not.
Tuesday night, Initiative 77, the ballot measure to gradually eliminate the tipped minimum wage by 2026 in DC, passed 55% Yes to 45% No with about 1 of 6 DC registered voters weighing in. This will go to Congress for a 30-day review period; DC Council still has the power to overturn or modify it (Barred in DC expects this to move forward, with modifications/extensions/exemptions. Nearly unanimously opposed by restaurants/bars and seemingly by servers and bartenders as well, many folks believe this will lead to closed restaurants, lost shifts, and less tips. For more/better analysis, read Jessica Sidman, Laura Hayes, and others.
An overwhelming majority of the precincts in DC supported Initiative 77, though most seem to have results close to the relatively slim margin of the entire city. Strong support (60%+) was found in far NE near MD border and particularly in SE east of the Anacostia. Majority surprisingly supported in AU Park, Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom, and Kalorama (how did the Obamas vote?).
Neighborhoods which a majority voted No roughly align with the neighborhoods the few Republicans in DC can be found. Still, only Spring Valley, Wesley Heights, and Georgetown had “No” votes exceed 59% of the vote..
Areas which voted against Initiative 77:
Mass Ave Heights
Van Ness (west side)
Adams Morgan (Kalorama Triangle)
Much of Capitol Hill (south of Union Station, near Cap Hill South metro, Eastern Market, Barracks Row, a sliver northeast of Lincoln Park)
The 2018 World Cup, played in Russia, kicks off at 11am Eastern time on Thursday June 14th with Russia v. Saudi Arabia, and ends with the Final at 11a on Sunday, July 15th (schedule). Between June 15th and June 28th there will be 3-4 group stage games daily (usually 8a, 11a, and 2p), followed by the Round of 16/Quarterfinals at 10a and 2p June 30th – July 3rd & July 6th-7th, and the Semifinals at 2p July 10th-11th. Even without the U.S. in it and a record 38 games on broadcast TV (so you can get the game with your antenna), expect many DC bars to be be lively affairs filled with fans of the competing nations.
Although there will only be games before 10a on 10 days (June 15-25th) and only 1 game that’s even before 8a, DC has enacted a law (the 2018 All-Star Game and World Cup Emergency Amendment Act of 2018) allowing any bar to pay $100 for the privilege to be open for boozing at 7a, an hour earlier than normal, for the entire tournament, even when there aren’t games on. 75 bars that have ponied up the $100 to get the extra hour, which you can see here on the map/listing. Don’t expect all 75 to especially raucous spots to watch soccer but I’ve listed them below with any available details as well other spots with plans. I’ve listed other spots who have announced World Cup plans since only one game actually starts before the normal 8a opening time (France v Australia at 6a this Saturday). More spots/details to be added.
*-Not approved to open before 8a.
Confirmed Showing All Matches
Across the Pond (opening at 7a, with brunch at 8a)
Showing All Matches (Except possibly 6a Sat. 6/16 France-Australia)
World Cup Pop-Up Bar (old Prospect DC)
World Cup HQ
Across the Pond
The Big Board
The Star & Shamrock
Lou’s City Bar
Other Worthwhile Spots
showing all games
open at 7:30a everyday (when games early); 10a for opening ceremony Thursday
Russian food specials available during lunch + Russian cocktails/beers
Big crowd for Colombia
large TV set up on patio when weather permits
England team watch: specials on Fullers draft beer + Pimms Cup
Across the Pond
show every game
$10.99 breakfast special (scrambled eggs, bacon/sausage, home fries, toast, tea/coffe
showing all 11a & 2p games in Cantina Pub
Emissary – coffee/drinks spot
The Front Page
watch party for Panama v. Belgium hosted by Panamanian Embassy 6/18
Big spot for Colombia and other South American teams
Sauf Haus – surely German spot
Open for all games
coffee from Junius Coffee
$5 1/2 liter can specials on beer
cohost embassies of Mexico v. Germany for 6/7 game
Camelot – strip club
Sign of the Whale
Abigail Room – lounge
Fox & Hounds*
open at 11a every gameday
express lunch weekdays + bottomless brunch on wknds
open earlier for select matches
open at 2p for Portugal-Spain 6/15
showing most matches
specials on beer/cocktails
private rooms available
Sat 6/16 watch party v. Denmark
showing other games
U Street/14th Street
Drafting Table – soccer bar
Ted’s Bulletin – always open at 8a for breakfast
open early for select games
2p 6/15; 9a Sat June 16 for Arg v. Iceland; 11a Germany v Mexico Sun June 17)
World Cup HQ (In old Prospect DC)
open 8a-8pish everyday
cocktails/frose/beer in giant steins/wine carafes
$4 beers/$4 wine/$6 cocktails from 4-7p
daily international food specials
Dukem – Ethiopian spot
open at 11a for opening match 6/14; noon Thurs-Sun
HH during all WC games + $5 Modelo Tall boys + $22 buckets of 5
open at 1p Fri 6/15
staying open between lunch & dinner (poss. just for Spain matches)
Spain matches: Mahou beer specials and full lunch menu. Porrons (wine pitchers) passed after every goal
Unity (Salina?) – Ethiopian spot
MK Lounge – Ethiopian spot
Cloud Restaurant – Ethiopian spot
open for at least some of the 8a matches (may be ore
1230 DC – champagne lounge
Queen of Sheba – Ethiopian spot
open at 2p for M-Th; 11a-Fri; 8a Sat-Sun
open at 2p M-Th while games are on; Fri Noon and Sat-Sun 11a
open at 8a daily, showing all matches
drink specials during Colombia matches (refajo, Colombiana soda, aguardiente boilermakers)
The 201 Bar closes its doors on Friday, June 15th. Originally opened in 2003 as “Lounge 201” (before a summer 2012 make-over), the subterranean watering hole on Capitol Hill near Union Station has long welcomed Senate staffers and lobbyists for after-work happy hours as well as many private events over the years. An appreciation party will be held Thursday, June 14th.
For several years, the spot has hosted Nebraska Husker college football watch parties, though otherwise has been most recently closed on Saturdays and Sundays except for private events. The folks behind the 201 Bar also run the nearby Union Pub, as well as Barrel near Eastern Market, McClellan’s Retreat in Dupont, and Truxton Inn in Bloomingdale.
DC’s famed snow day specials (which Barred in DC frequently posts) at bars and restaurants may be less special going forward. That’s because last week OPM finally, as required by the Administrative Leave Act of 2016 (passed Dec 2016), issued its final regulations about the new “weather and safety leave.” Under the new regulations, which are effective May 10th, OPM has essentially codified existing practice for snow days. One major change, however, may lead to fewer federal employees being able to take advantage of drink & food specials during the day.
Under the new regulations, any employee who has a telework agreement will be required to telework, period, on a snow day, so long as it was “reasonably anticipated” which would allow the employee notice that he/she needs to take laptop home, etc. Previously, OPM had mandated that folks who already were on their regular telework day had to telework on snow days; many agencies required all teleworkers to do so as well but many did not (neither agency I’ve worked for did, hence the frequent posts over the years). This means that if you have a telework agreement but only actually telework a couple times a year situationally, you will be required to telework or take annual leave when there’s a snow day, though you may be in luck if your power is out at your house. OPM thinks that it will be rare that a weather day off wouldn’t be reasonably anticipated, referring to floods, fires, and earthquakes as times where you wouldn’t be prepared. It will be up to each agency to figure out what it means to be “reasonably anticipated” in the end.
So what if you still want to keep your #snowdayfundays and you’re a fed? Well, you could always terminate your telework agreement (depending on your agency, you might be able to re-up and then cancel depending on the season); an agency can’t generally force you to sign a telework agreement. OPM doesn’t believe that a significant number of employees will actually do this, but I know there will be many. Unlike employees in the private sector, the federal government generally doesn’t allow you to telework at a coffee shop or a restaurant.