Every Tuesday, the Going Out Gurus highlight the week's best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties. Here are the ones we think you can't miss:
Wednesday: Bitters are a bartender's secret weapon. A few dashes of an herbal or spicy flavor can make the difference between a so-so cocktail and one you'll talk about for weeks. The bitters market has exploded in recent years, with flavors ranging from xocolatl mole to celery. It can all be a little confusing. So lean on Janet and Avery Glasser, the founders of the acclaimed Bittermens Bitters, and Room 11 co-owner/mixologist/author Dan Searing during a special bitters-centric cocktail class (called, naturally, All About Bitters) at Salt and Sundry. The $35 ticket includes two cocktails and a bottle of Bittermens to take home and experiment with.
Thursday: There has never been a shortage of actors dabbling in music: Keanu Reeves, Kevin Bacon, Minnie Driver, David Hasselhoff. With very few exceptions, they should have stuck to acting. That's why it's okay to be skeptical about "Sex and the City" heartthrob John Corbett's new country album, "Leavin' Nothing Behind." But you know what? It's not bad. Corbett makes fairly straight-ahead country. Some songs are reminiscent of early-'80s country hits; others could slot alongside Dierks Bentley or Jason Aldean on your iPod playlist. (Corbett's 2006 debut album featured a single called "Good to Go," which Aldean later covered.) Then again, there are going to be plenty of people at Hill Country on Thursday who are there simply because Corbett spent three seasons portraying Carrie's hunky furniture designer/boyfriend. You're advised not to wait and buy tickets at the door.
Thursday: After six years of monthly forays into his vast crates of Brazilian records, DJ Neville C is putting Brazilian Rhythms on hiatus. His meticulously curated sets go deep into the music of Brazil, a large country that isn't solely represented by the samba of the past or the baile funk of the present. There's the axe of Bahia, the forro of the Northeast and the fusillade of drumming that characterizes batucada, and Neville C rocks them all from the black wax. The caipirinhas will be flowing as Neville C says farewell to Cafe Saint-Ex.
Saturday: Loudoun County is home to a flourishing wine industry, and six of the county's vintners will be featured at a special all-local wine dinner at Purcellville's Magnolias at the Mill. The five-course menu includes a potato osso buco paired with Lost Mountain, the pricey flagship wine from RdV in Delaplane, and a pistachio-crusted red snapper paired with the merlot-cabernet franc blend Topiary from Boxwood in Middleburg. Tickets are $85, including tax and tip, and reservations are required.
Keep reading for more ideas, including the debut of Brown Girl Burlesque at the Black Cat, a rewarding British pub quiz and French DJ duo Make the Girl Dance.
Tuesday, March 19
Most trivia nights offer a little something for the winners -- a gift certificate for the first-place team, a round of shots for the best name. But not many can match the big prize at the Queen Vic's Right Royal Pub Quiz: a trip for two to England. Here's how it works: The quiz is every Tuesday through May 28. Host Paul Roe of H Street's British Ink tattoo parlor asks questions about everything from D.C. landmarks to Saturday morning cartoons -- the usual pub fare. There's a $50 prize for the week's best performance and a round of drinks for second place. But this quiz rewards regular attendance: Teams receive points based on their overall standing, with 15 points for the top team, 14 points for the runner-up, 13 points for third place and so on. (Teams also earn five points if their bar tab is more thanr $50.) Those points roll over from week to week, and as soon as a team hits 50, their name goes in the hat to be eligible to win two round-trip tickets to London. Last year, 28 teams managed to hit 50, and those are pretty good odds for the grand prize. Even if you don't win, pints of Newcastle are $4.55.
Thursday, March 21
Rusty B and Jayclue are two weird dudes. But unlike many other weird dudes, they have tons of production credits and touring DJ experience that allow them to put such electronic music offshoots as trap in context with the usual house, breaks, nu disco and boogie. They’ll be spinning all night at Little Miss Whiskey’s.
Friday, March 22
The Black Cat's forays into the world of burlesque are becoming more frequent, and more popular, if the two recent sold-out "Dr. Who"-themed shows are anything to go by. This week, the Cat welcomes New York's Brown Girls Burlesque troupe for the first time. Don't miss the performance by Jeez Louez, who was named Miss Viva Las Vegas at last year's burlesque competition in Sin City. (The St. Louis resident doesn't make it to D.C. often.) Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door.
Saturday, March 23
For three weeks, District Comedy has turned its weekly open-mike nights into a March Madness-style competition, with stand-up comics whittled down from 36 participants to six through voting at performances. The half-dozen comics still standing will show off their best material in a winner-take-all performance at the D.C. Arts Center, starting at 10 p.m.
The folks behind Napoleon have spent the winter readying their new Georgetown outpost Malmaison, giving the public sneak peeks through occasional test runs and one-offs. Last we heard, they had house legend Ron Trent supervising the sound system installation. French electro duo Make the Girl Dance will put that system through its paces at a party thrown in conjunction with the Alliance Francaise. The last time Make the Girl Dance visited D.C., they had hundreds of folks bouncing off the walls at the Postal Museum.