Happy Hour with Fritz Hahn

Oct 26, 2017

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. Welcome back to the Happy Hour chat. A few things you should read, if you haven't:

Our weekly Things to Do column is packed with Halloween (and Halloween-ish) events, from sideshow acts in Yards Park to exhibits at the Library of Congress.

Maura wrote a great preview of the Nutshell Studies, the dollhouses used for forensic study that are on display at the Renwick Gallery.

Holley went to a pair of interactive bars that feature tennis and VR art.

And the whole staff pitched in on this guide to some of D.C.'s best breakfast spots. (My personal favorite: Still Jimmy T's Place.)

Ready? Let's begin.

If I want more than just a drink, where can I find the best bar food at a beer bar or brewpub? Anything from wings to burgers.

Excellent question and I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on this. Assuming we're talking about craft beer spots, my picks would be (in no particular order): Totchos smothered in cheese, bacon and jalapenos at Galaxy Hut; the crispy 10-spice wings at City Tap House; the barbecue tacos (meat or vegan) on Tuesdays at Smoke and Barrel; and the flamenkuches with speck at the Sovereign

Your picks?

Any options for brunch or lunch (around 12/12:30pm) on Saturday at the Wharf. Taking a tour of it then planning on eating somewhere with 3 people, preferably a place with booze. And no Del Mar prices, please. Thanks.

The Wharf is in much better shape than it was two weeks ago, thankfully, though it's still not perfect: Hank's Oyster Bar, for example, is only open for dinner, not lunch. 

Kith and Kin opened for lunch earlier this week, and it's much more affordable than Shaw Bijou: Think $15 Ethiopian Hot Chicken, or a $17 burger with waffle fries. Kirwin's Irish Pub is doing more traditional Irish favorites, Shake Shack is Shake Shack ... or you could go old-school and go down to Cantina Marina, which is closing after this weekend.

I lost a bet (thanks Nats) and must send a six pack of DC beer to a Cubs fan in another state. Do you know of a decent DC-based brewery who will do this? Or an online retailer? I've been googling around, but came up short. Thanks for doing these chats, BTW!

This is tough: Most breweries cannot legally ship their beer to people in another state due to the three-tier system of alcohol distribution. I'd check with some of the better liquor stores in D.C., such as Schneider's on Capitol Hill, which stocks a decent selection of 3 Stars, DC Brau, etc., and will ship to all states "except Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia." (Those are down to state law.)

Do you know when the new restaurant by the people of V-Street in Philadelphia is opening in dc?

The last I heard was "late fall" for V Street, a vegan street food restaurant from the owners of Vedge and V Street in Philly. (The last photo they posted on Twitter - a month ago - showed the space as an empty shell, so I don't think it's going to be right away.)

Should add that, despite the name, it's going into the Apollo building on H Street NE. I'm sure that won't be confusing for people.

Have you been there? The place always seems empty when I walk past it. It seemed like a big deal that the Jacksonville chain was opening up a location here. Perhaps that corner is cursed since Ruby Tuesday closed in that location.

I haven't been, and I haven't heard very much buzz about it either - especially after the last BBQ joint in that space crashed and burned in less than a year.


Just starting to get into mezcal. I'm looking to buy some for at home, to sip neat. Any recommendations?

Up front: I like sipping mezcal at bars, but I'm not an expert. I am rather fond of the Del Maguey single-village bottlings, the Real Minero (which I've used in cocktails) and the far more common Illegal. But it's going to depend on what else you like to drink: Gin drinkers might lean towards a more vegetal mezcal, while Scotch fans might be looking for something more smoky.  

What I would suggest is a visit to Mezcalero (14th and Spring) or Espita (Ninth Street near Blagden Alley), both of which are staffed with mezcal experts and offer sampling flights at a variety of price points. Talk to your bartenders, tell them what you're willing to spend, and let them suggest a few things to dry. 

Which Halloween bar crawls will be the most fun while containing the least drunken bros throwing up outside bars?


The most infamous of the Halloween bar crawls -- the Clarendon Halloween Bar Crawl that visits Clarendon Grill, Mister Days, Whitlow's, etc. -- isn't until Nov. 4 this year.

If you're avoiding overcrowded and drunk, I'd also probably skip the Nightmare on Connecticut Avenue, which stops at Big Hunt, Blackfinn, Public Bar, etc. (Yes, it's technically called the Nightmare on M Street, but that's a relic from the days when it included Sign of the Whale, Madhatter, etc.)

Two Saturday bar crawls that do sound promising:

The Hip-Hop Bar Crawl on U Street, which finds DJs mostly spinning themed '80s and '90s sets, like “Ruff Ryders vs. Rockafella vs. Bad Boy,” at five bars. Old-school hip-hop costumes are suggested, with a $100 prize for the best outfit.

The Upper 14th Street bar crawl, with participants including Red Derby, Lyman's, Little Coco's and the Airedale, also sounds like a blast. There are different activities at each bar, such as a Motown dance party at Red Derby and costume karaoke at the Airedale, and no cover, so you can bounce around freely if a place is too crowded. 

More info on both of those is in the Things To Do column.

Who is producing your go to Sour beers in the district and why?

Assuming this is related to my recent Food Section piece about sour ales

3 Stars makes some really nice sours. Trouble in Paradise, a tart sour with guava, mango and vinous, grassy notes - is one of the more impressive and it's also been relatively easy to find at bars and in stores like Craft Beer Cellar and Whole Foods.

Bluejacket's Wallflower was a recent standout for me - a really juicy, yet dry, dry-hopped sour with some earthy funk.

And not in D.C. proper, but Burley Oak's JREAM series, which are basically sour fruit milkshakes brewed with lactose for an unbelievably smooth body, are must-tries when you can find them. Most recent sightings were the Passenger and Barrel.

If in Arlington, I think Rustico has a good balance between solid beer selection and food offerings... Fireworks is also in the running but going to give the nod to Rustico for a more updated beer list and harder to find selections

Ah, yes, Rustico's cheesey risotto tots. Good burgers, too.

What places do you recommend??

That's a bit of an open-ended question, because I feel like people in their 40s and 50s can enjoy a good dive bar as much as a classy cocktail bar. But if you're looking for the kind of space where you can enjoy a drink while sitting down, and not getting jostled in a crowd of people shouting at each other over the music, I'd say a number of the bars that recently featured in my Top 10 Bars in D.C. list would fit the bill: The Columbia Room's Spirits Library (not the pre-fixe, but the lounge space), All Souls, the Belgian beers at the Sovereign (though not on a Saturday night), or Jack Rose, especially the revamped Dram and Grain. I like Martin's Tavern in Georgetown or the Tune Inn on the Hill, Stan's downtown and the Whiskey Bar at the Watergate ... but hey, 30-somethings can enjoy all these bars as well.

I was just in Rome last week and was totally pysched to see The Veil on tap--totally delicious DIPA.

Wait. Rome? Italy? Was it one of the collaborations with the UK's Cloudwater?

Okay, signing off. Enjoy Halloween weekend, and remember you can get a FREE ride home on Saturday night courtesy of Lyft and the Washington Regional Alcohol Program -- click here for all the details.


Post Points code is HH6625.

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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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