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Meal Ticket: Budget Boozing 101

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
H Street Country Club bartender Tony Deleo serves up a frozen guava margarita, one of the bar’s happy hour specials.

Hate to break it to all the would-be Don Drapers, but the days of the three-martini lunch are officially over.

Which is not to say that drinking does not play an integral part in the Capitol Hill experience.

Careers change over clinking tumblers brimming with peaty Scotch. Craft breweries are cropping up seemingly overnight. And award-winning beverage gurus are shaking up intoxicating, new tension-relievers several generations removed from the standbys enshrined within the Mr. Boston guidebook.

In a culture where work-related happy hours and cocktail reception invites pile up faster than constituent letters at the mail-screening center, it’s important for Congressional newcomers — particularly fresh-faced interns — to figure out not only their poison of choice, but where they feel most comfortable enjoying it.

To that end, we present our crash-course in libation appreciation. Here’s to (hopefully) learning something new.

MONDAY
Lounge 201
201 Massachusetts Ave. NE
202-544-5201
lounge201.com

The week’s just getting started. So let’s pace ourselves.

Lounge 201 rarely gets crazy this early — go ahead, stretch out on one of the zebra- or leopard-print-covered perches — which makes it a prime candidate for easing into our exploration of potent potables. Its standard happy hour deals — house wine, beers, rails drinks and signature martinis are half-price from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday — invite experimentation with frou-frou drinks that typically cost an arm and a leg at tonier establishments.

Sucking back a cold, frothy Dark and Stormy, marrying dark Gosling’s rum with spicy ginger beer, is a fabulous entree to the tastes of the tropics.

The Perfect Pear encapsulates the pleasures of the garden. Fresh basil dominates the early sips, spunky lime wedge injects some acid, pureed pear brightens each swallow while the underlying vodka packs the requisite punch.

The Sinatra is as spirited as Ol’ Blue Eyes. The icy concoction disappears faster than President John F. Kennedy’s ties to Chi-town mobster Sam Giancana, thanks in large part to the sweet-tart sensation created by the comingling of white cranberry juice and blueberry vodka.

TUESDAY
H Street Country Club
1335 H St. NE
202-399-4722
hstreetcountryclub.com

Drinking is not a game. But it sure does spice up friendly competitions.

The designers of the H Street Country Club have seized that conceit, intertwining joyful distractions with cut-rate beer and margarita specials ($3 Dos Equis and Bud Light, $5 margaritas, regular and frozen, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday).

Classic margaritas could become downright habit-forming, the dichotomous preparation nailing the anticipated tangy and salty notes — orchestrated by the generously salted rim and citrus-laced tequila — with ease.

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