We Love Drinks: MAN EDITION

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘chrysti harrison’

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:
The Saloon
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:

The Gibson
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.

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘philliefan99’

Now, to break up the monotony of simply drinking, it’s time for same games.  Take a cab to:

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:

Red Derby
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.

Kirk is a Maine-born, military brat who moved no fewer than 12 times during his childhood. He came to the DC area in 2004 for his undergrad and decided that it was the place for him. Since graduating, he’s nabbed a job with the Fed and spends most of his free time hunting for cheap thrills in the city. Find out why he loves DC.

9 thoughts on “We Love Drinks: MAN EDITION

  1. 2 things…

    First, am I the only one who is so antsy half the time at the Saloon that I find it almost impossible to enjoy myself there? The “no standing” thing is great in theory, and the place has a cool vibe because of it, but I practically sprint on my way to and from the bathroom, lest I get yelled at for loitering on my feet for too long. Plus, the simple fact that I can’t do something makes me want to. Drives me nuts.

    Second, re Natty Boh. While technically from the Land of Pleasant Living, the Boh hasn’t been brewed in Charm City (Halethorpe, actually) since 2000, and hasn’t been locally owned since Heileman scooped it up in ’79. (It’s since been sold to Stroh’s, who sold it to Pabst in 1996.) Still love the Boh, but it’s literally as local as that shitty PBR.

  2. AM is only a public transport no-mans-land if you don’t count the 5 or so bus lines that run through there. Non connect to the Red Derby, its true, but that’s asking a lot.

  3. I would only humbly submit that you should start with cocktails and then switch to beer.

    Liquor before beer: you’re in the clear!

  4. “Granted, mixed drinks aren’t typically what comes to mind when you think “manly,””

    Right. Because Old Fashioned, Sidecars, Manhattans, etc. are girly. I shudder to think that a pitcher of water-like beer and shots of jagermeister being forced on you by the belligerent-make-sure-everyone-has-a-shot-guy (there’s at least one in every group) is what passes for manly. For boys, sure. But men?

  5. of course you drop the word “sissy” right away which this “sissy” figured was boringly typical but the reference to leaving enough time for “desired man activities”…hmmm…..

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