Hockey’s back, and here’s where to pregame before the Caps game

January 22, 2013

Alex Ovechkin and the Caps are back at Verizon Center on Tuesday. (Tony L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

This post has been updated.

The Washington Capitals are back. If you’re headed to Verizon Center to watch the team's home opener against the Winnipeg Jets tonight, we suggest stopping into one of these bars first:

District ChophouseThe downstairs of this popular brewpub is high-end Sinatra swagger, with large booths and blaring swing music. Upstairs is the smaller Brewer’s Lounge, a secluded spot with soft leather couches. Stop in between 3 and 7 p.m. on weeknights for $3.25 house-made beers.

District of PiThis St. Louis-based pizzeria, which specializes in decadent deep dish, is about two blocks from Verizon Center’s main entrance, but it’s far enough off the main strip that the bar doesn't get overrun. That leaves more space to enjoy the beers — a half-dozen of its 24 taps go to St. Louis’s Schlafly brewery — as well as its happy hour (from 4 to 6:30 p.m., Sunday through Thursday) of $4 drafts, $6 cocktails and $4 bar snacks, including puck-size meatballs.

Hill CountryYou’re covered with Hill Country’s two-pronged happy hour, which runs daily from 3 to 7 p.m. and from 10 p.m. until close. Try $3 PBR cans, $5 rail drinks and $20 margarita pitchers to wash down trays of wings, beef sandwiches or the $25 Pitmaster Combo: brisket, chicken, and beef and pork ribs.

Iron Horse Tap RoomEventually, we all outgrow Rocket Bar. But the Iron Horse Tap Room’s ever-changing beer selection and abundant happy hour specials do its rowdier sibling proud — and without smelling like the couch in the frat house basement. Get $2 off all draft beers from 4 to 8 p.m. every night.

The PassengerIf there’s a weekday game and you can duck out a bit early, head to the Passenger for high-end tipple and duck confit nachos. A perfectly mixed Manhattan here costs as much as a watery draft beer inside the arena. It’s a few blocks north of the main Penn Quarter drag, so allow 20 minutes to get to your seat for the drop of the puck.

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. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.
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Alex Baldinger · January 22, 2013