Welcome to We Love Drinks: MAN EDITION (imagine the title with with like flames and motorcycles around it. That’s how I picture it in my head, anyways.) Jenn has graciously handed me the reins this month to take you all on a more masculine version of her beloved feature. I’ll be leading you all on what is, for me, the ideal man-night in DC.
Man nights can take many forms. There’s the cheap beer and wings version at a sports bar, there’s the suits and scotch edition at a cigar bar, there’s the more sodden bachelor party iteration, and each has its place. My version is somewhere in the middle. It’s not classy, but not frattish, not too raucous, but not boring. Consider it the business casual pub crawl of man-nights.
First of all, some ground rules: no phone calls with women, no sissy drinks, no dancing, no personal vehicles, keep the list of bars short and local. Follow these and you’ll be much happier, safer, and richer by the end of the evening. For this man night, I’m keeping in the U St., Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan area of town. It’ll keep transport costs low and leave you more time for desired man activities.
Off to the first stop:
1205 U St.
The Saloon is my favorite bar in all of DC. It’s casual, quiet and has a great tap selection, basically everything a man dreams of in a pub The only thing that you will be drinking here is beer. I know that there is liquor behind the counter, but you will not be having any of it. You’ll find around 10 German and Belgian beers on draft, several of which rotate seasonally. For the on-coming colder months, go for something heavier like a Kostritzer (Goethe’s favorite) or a Spatten Dunkel. These have a malty flavor and medium-heavy texture and will take the edge off a cold evening. Along with having good beer, the Saloon is just a great place to converse. The no standing and a no cell phone rules keep the loud talk and extraneous chatter to a manageable level, making it easy to speak with friends, the bar tender or the stranger next to you. After a beer or two, move on to:
2009 14th St (at 14th and U)
The Gibson is DC’s worst kept secret. It’s an “underground” speakeasy that’s been written up in just about every major news paper and blog in the DC area. Still, it’s a classy bar that makes a damn good cocktail. Granted, mixed drinks aren’t typically what comes to mind when you think “manly,” but there are some cocktails that will definitely put hair on your chest. Learn them and a new world will open. One of the Gibson’s best drinks is the Sazerac, a rye concoction of anise, bitters and lemon that is subtly sweet, but still boozy enough that you know you’re drinking whiskey. I’d also recommend their Old Fashioned, an (obviously) old school bourbon drink that the Gibson puts their own spin on by adding a touch of cinnamon. The Old Fashioned is Don Draper’s drink of choice, by the way. Regardless of what you settle on, sit at the bar. The mixologists are fun to watch and will to give you recipes and tips for your home mixing.
At this point, you should have a decent buzz, so it’s time to gas up with some food. Fortunately, U St. has one of the best drunk-food scenes in city. Check out the Greek Spot on 11th St. They supply a gyro with lamb and an outrageous feta sauce for around $5. Then there’s Ben’s Chili Bowl, of course. Half smokes hit just right after a few drinks on a chilly evening.
Bed Rock Billiards
1841 Columbia Road NW
Bed Rock is a laid back pool hall away from the insanity of night-time Adam’s Morgan. It’s a got a few billiards tables, some dart boards and even foosball, so you can take you pick of activities. It’s also got a quality little selection of American craft beers on tap. I’d particularly recommend Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, a hoppy IPA with a dry finish. It’s on of my favorite beers of all time. Grab a pint of that, shoot some pool and take time to recover from the stronger drinks you’ve already enjoyed. The one downside to doing anything in Adam’s Morgan is that you’re in a god forsaken, public transport wilderness, so you’ll have to walk/stagger or take a taxi to get anywhere. So, hail a cab and head to the next spot, which is:
3718 14th St NW
This is your one dive (ish) of the evening, and a great spot to finish off the night. What separates Red Derby from your typical dive is that its got a decent selection of beer, all of which is canned. So, enjoy the semi-irony of sipping your beer out of aluminum and coax the last dregs of conversation from your weary mind. Just, have some self respect and skip the PBR. Natty Boh is just as cheap, twice as good (it actually tastes like beer) and is a local brew.
Your final step is to find your way home and sleep off the evening. Well done. You’ve completed Man Night.