H Street Country Club bartender Tony Deleo serves up a frozen guava margarita, one of the bars happy hour specials.
The frozen version proves even better. Barkeeps hedge their bets by emptying a long pour of tequila into the highball glass BEFORE dispensing the crystalline margarita mix. Drifts of tequila-infused snow push back against the lips with every slurp, the free floating booze and freshly liberated sodium chloride rushing down the gullet while the more obstinate slush slides back and forth with each tilt of the glass.
Gaming options include communal shuffleboard tables, traditional skeeball, Buck Hunter and, of course, the D.C.-centric mini putt course spanning most of the second floor (free with any entree purchase Sunday through Tuesday; $7 a pop otherwise).
WEDNESDAY The Li’l Pub 655 Pennsylvania Ave. SE 202-543-5526
Need a little help overcoming Hump Day? The Li’l Pub may just have the cure for what ails ya.
Staff at the unimpeachably blue-collar hangout claim they’ve been cranking out catch-all Jell-O shots since time immemorial. (Which is to say, longer than the famously ornery bar maidens care to cop to serving them.)
“Some nights ... kids come in here and they order one, two or even three apiece,” staff said, estimating that they distribute at least 100 liquor-filled gelatin shooters per night.
Featured flavors — think cherry lemonade, lime and, occasionally, red, white and blue (Fourth of July special) — rotate at the whimsy of the presiding barkeep. As does the base material. “Whatever we want to get rid of, that’s what we dump in,” one seasoned enabler told HOH, though she noted that most of the time they unload plain vodka.
The frat-party staples — “Oooh, I think these are glow in the dark!” one excited patron squealed pre-slurp — are $1 and are joined by $3 domestics and rail drinks, available from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and all day Sunday.
Just make sure to show up early. And often.
“Nothing worse than when the Hill rats discover this place and pile in for a few weeks. They soon discover they’re not welcome,” one grizzled regular griped about the slew of Johnny-come-lately’s she’s seen pass through the joint over the years.
THURSDAY Kelly’s Irish Times 14 F St. NW 202-543-5433 kellysirishtimesdc.com
No mere Irish pub, Kelly’s is a Capitol Hill institution unto itself.
“This bar is a classic. ... It never changes!” proclaimed a D.C. native who hadn’t darkened the watering hole’s door in nearly three years upon once again bellying up to the always-bustling bar.
The sense of nostalgia is infectious, aided by walls plastered with campaign memorabilia (JFK for Congress posters, President Ronald Reagan beaming back at you from yellowing magazine covers) and other political ephemera (sardonic editorial cartoons, the cheeky snapshot of President Richard Nixon glad-handing Elvis Presley).
Cheap drinks abound, including $3 cans of National Bohemian and tallboys of Pabst Blue Ribbon, $4 Miller High Life and $5 Red Stripe lager. Which makes this the ideal place to learn about the all-important beer back.
For $6 the bartenders will fix you up with a jumbo Miller High Life (noticeably creamy but still easy drinking) and a shot of Old Overholt rye whiskey. The distinctly American spirit initially feels a little hot but finishes mellow, releasing a slow burn as it races toward the belly.
FRIDAY Union Pub 201 Massachusetts Ave. NE 202-546-7200 unionpubdc.com