Happy Hour with Fritz Hahn

Sep 13, 2018

Every other Thursday, Washington Post Weekend and Food reporter Fritz Hahn discusses happy hours, new cocktail destinations, local beers, date ideas and the late-night scene. Of course, he's also happy to talk about staples of the old Got Plans chats, such as weekend getaways, brunch spots, new exhibits and other ways to have fun in the Washington D.C. area.

Hi everyone. 

By now you've probably heard that Hurricane Florence is going to "just skirt" the D.C. region, and for the most part, your weekend can go on as scheduled -- unless you were planning to attend the H Street Festival, the Dulles Day Festival, Fiesta DC, DC VegFest, or any of the other events cancelled out of an abundance of caution. I'm sure some people are grumbling about how organizers should have waited before postponing, but it's always better to be safe than sorry, especially when dealing with an unpredictable and deadly storm. 

Anyway, here are 10 things to do this weekend (including what should be a spectacular beer festival in Herndon), a list of 6 restaurants to check out now, and my report on why your next lunch break should be at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Okay, let's get to the questions.

If we’re going to be rained-in this weekend, we might as well be stuck with some good beer! What are your favorite shops with a good supply of interesting craft brews? Would be nice if they have a “Build your own 6-pack” option.

While the hurricane angle of this question isn't quite so relevant any more, I'm happy to share my favorite spots: Craft Beer Cellar on H Street NE is my go-to spot in the city for interesting craft beer, especially because you can buy solo cans/bottles of anything, without having to build a set of six. They do limit some of the rarer bottles that come in, but I'd rather have one Toppling Goliath IPA than none. 

The Brew Shop is Arlington is also great, and while they don't get as many national rarities as CBC, thanks to D.C.'s distribution laws, they have plenty of offerings from Virginia breweries like Ocelot and Adroit Theory, and they can fill growlers as well as selling singles of whatever you want. (They also stock homebrew supplies.)  

Corner/small shops worth browsing include Glen's Garden Market in Dupont, Little Red Fox south of Chevy Chase, Odd Provisions in Columbia Heights, and Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring. Further out, Downtown Crown in Gaithersburg has a great selection. 

What are your recs for family-friendly (kids + dogs) in the DC area? Life has changed...but our love for beer remains the same and we'd love to make Oktoberfest a Family Affair!

Beer gardens are perfect for bringing the family. The Brig on Barracks Row, Wunder Garten in NoMa and Midlands Beer Garden in Park View welcome well-behaved kids and dogs, and they all are conducive to sitting around with the family.

I've seen more dogs than kids at the Continental Beer Garden in Rosslyn, though I think that's more the nature of the folks who live and work in the neighborhood. 

Biergarten Haus is kid-friendly, especially during the day on weekends, though I'm not sure if you can bring your dog. 

No question, just a thanks! We made a day of it on our way to Captain Billy's Crab House, beginning with a stop at Atlantic Kayak Co. in Indian Head, then Thomas Stone National Historic Site. Really great spot run by the National Park Service with the well preserved home of Declaration of Independence signer Thomas Stone, and a great tour by a super knowledgeable NPS Ranger (Learned sooo much about chamber pot etiquette, or lack thereof. You just have to experience it for yourself!). Then on to Captain Billy's where we sat outside with an awesome view of the water and fabulous crab cakes (we are too lazy for crab picking). A great day! Thanks, Fritz!

Glad you enjoyed it! The Thomas Stone Historic Site is great. I'm also a fan of the historic spots in and around Port Tobacco if you make it back down, and man, crabs paired the views from Captain Billy's pier really make that drive worth it, don't they?

For those of you who are still pining for crabs: My recommendations for four great crab houses that aren't in Annapolis

Just something I've observed over the last couple weeks that's really starting to Irk me. My husband and I have gone to several restaurants both fancy and casual but I'm finding the same thing in common when it comes to mocktails. We are being charged the SAME amount for a drink with alcohol. I'm pregnant so I'm not drinking but why should my mojito that's mocktail have the same price as a mojito with liquor? We've been to Auld Shabeen a couple times in the last few weeks where I was changed a mere .50 cheaper than the exact drink with liquor. Why do restaurants do this to people who don't drink for whatever reason. Sometimes I want something a little more than a soda or water but to be charged the same amount for a dink without liquor is a bit ridiculous.

I would be irked too. I give up drinking every January (and also sometimes randomly throughout the year) and the savings from buying cocktails is one of the bonuses.

Now, at some cocktail bars, and I'm thinking places like Hank's Oyster Bar, Bourbon Steak, the much-missed 2 Birds 1 Stone, bartenders are happy to suggest non-alcoholic versions of popular cocktails, but at maybe 2/3 the price of a regular drink. (I appreciate that if they're using house-made sodas and fresh ingredients, I have to pay more than for a glass of straight tonic with lime.)

But if you're drinking a non-alcoholic mojito -- which is, um, mint, lime, simple syrup and club soda -- that shouldn't cost anywhere near the price of a regular-strength Cuban cocktail. 

Greetings Herr Hahn...what would be the best Oktoberfest option in DC-Metro this year, if I were to pick just one? Authenticity would be preferable to popularity btw; Prost!

The most authentic Oktoberfest party in D.C. is the one that the German Armed Forces Command throws in an airplane hanger at Dulles, with free-flowing kegs and a German band, but good luck getting a ticket. But if you know someone who can get a ticket, go.

As for Oktoberfests that are open to the public, I usually like the ones thrown by Doner Bistro in Leesburg (Oct. 18-21), which has cheesy German pop music to go with great food and, of course, steins of German beer; the Old Stein in Edgewater, where you'll find strolling accordion music, bands outside on weekends, and special pig roasts; and the one-day-only Oktoberfest in the garden at the Heurich House, where the German-style beer from District Chophouse will be served in special steins.

On the more general tip, I do enjoy an afternoon sampling all the German Oktoberfest options at Biergarten Haus, and the festive patio at Cafe Berlin, where there's music in the patio's biergarten tent on certain Sundays and Mondays. (Check their website for more details.) 


We fell in love with "vermut" during a trip to Barcelona. One recent weekend, for kicks, we did a Tour de Vermouth in D.C. We started with Boqueria - and their unexpectedly delightful presentation that includes a variety of garnishes and club soda to make your own vermouth cocktail - and ended with Joselito - which had the most different kinds of vermouth. In between, we hit six places. Based on some basic Internet research and priority for density of options, we mostly hit Spanish restaurants. We'd love to become more familiar with Italian and French vermouth. Do you know of any good restaurants to help us on this quest?

I have to be honest: I'm mostly familiar with Spanish vermouth, also thanks to a trip to Barcelona where I couldn't stop savoring it. They're also the most popular in D.C.

Etto used to be the go-to for Italian vermouth. Bar manager Kat Hamidi, who was responsible for their program as well as the creation of the local Capitoline Vermouth, has left to focus on vermouth full-time. 

For French vermouth, I'm trying to remember where I've had good examples - maybe Bistrot Lepic in Burleith, or Opaline at the Sofitel? 

I've heard there are some local vineyards that feature live music in evenings or weekend afternoons--any suggestions about ones to visit?

Among the ones that have been recommended to me (and for having interesting weekend music as well as wine tastings): Sunset Hills in Purcellville and Tarara in Leesburg, but I'm always open to more suggestions. 

Okay everyone. Stay safe and dry this weekend.

Programming note: The next chat will be on Oct. 11, and I'll see you then.

Post Points code is HH4626. (Yes, I double-checked. Sorry about my error last time.) 

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Fritz Hahn
Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes.
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