Best of 2012: Nightlife

Outdoor Drinking: Biergarten Haus

You never know how large a liter actually is until someone plops a liter of beer in front of you and expects you to drink it all. This is nearly everyone’s introduction to Biergarten Haus. The patio goes on forever and bears as much resemblance to rural Germany as Disney’s Frontierland bears to the Old West. But you’re not there for authenticity, you’re there for happy hour. And then you’re there past happy hour, because you forgot how to walk. F.Z.
1st: Biergarten Haus: 1355 H St. NE; 202-388-4085.
2nd: Poste: 555 8th St. NW; 202-783-6060. (Gallery Place)
3rd: Standard: 1801 14th St. NW. (U Street)

Bartender: Chad Spangler, Founding Farmers

The secret to running a good bar, says Chad Spangler of Founding Farmers, is consistency. (We say a killer smile doesn’t hurt either.) Spangler, who tends bar six nights a week, pours from the most complex cocktail menu in town, the brainchild of mixologist Jon Arroyo. “When you’re dealing with big drinks that are teetering on balance,” he says, “even adding an extra half-teaspoon of something can change the flavor profile.” Spangler ensures that your Queen’s Park Swizzle, Organic Cucumber Delight or Nice Coat! tastes exactly the same every time. B.M.
1st: Founding Farmers: 1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-822-8783. (Farragut West)
2nd: Gina Chersevani: Hank’s Oyster Bar: multiple locations.
3rd: Rhyd Davies: Black Squirrel: 2427 18th St. NW; 202-232-1011. (Woodley Park)

Happy Hour & Cocktail Menu: Policy

Though the corporate-cool decor might turn off those looking for a cozy neighborhood bar, Policy has all the necessary ingredients for a relaxed evening with friends: a long happy hour (5-8 p.m. Tue.-Fri., 2:30-7 p.m. Sat.) with low prices and decent food. You can get all manner of upscale small plates and complex, interesting drinks for $5 each. The cocktail menu is full of weird discoveries, including the sweet bourbon Kentucky Ninja and a terrifying concoction called the Absinthe Drip. F.Z.

Happy Hour
1st: Policy: 1904 14th St. NW; 202-387-7654. (U Street)
2nd: Hank’s Oyster Bar: multiple locations.
3rd: Lima Lounge: 1401 K St. NW; 202-789-2800. (McPherson Square)

Cocktail Menu

1st: Policy: 1904 14th St. NW; 202-387-7654. (U Street)
2nd: Founding Farmers: 1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-822-8783. (Farragut West)
3rd: The Passenger: 1021 7th St. NW; 202-393-0220. (Mt. Vernon Square)

Dive Bar: Wonderland Ballroom

Wonderland boasts the best of a classic D.C. bar — intense trivia nights, bathroom graffiti that references local politics — without the “I work for a senator” pick-up lines. The counters aren’t too sticky, and the rail drinks taste like the bartenders are rationing ginger ale for fear of a shortage. There’s brunch on weekend mornings to soothe your hangover (or start a new one, with $11 bottomless mimosas). F.Z.
1st: Wonderland Ballroom: 1101 Kenyon St. NW; 202-232-5263. (Columbia Heights)
2nd: The Pug: 1234 H St. NE.
3rd: Dan’s Cafe: 2315 18th St. NW; 202-265-0299.

Bar Games: H Street Country Club

The main attraction here is the D.C.-themed putt-putt course, where you’re allowed to sip scotch while whacking balls at a wee Lincoln Memorial. There’s also skeeball, shuffleboard and an Xbox Kinect. The food is unpretentious Mexican, and on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, you get a free round of minigolf with dinner. F.Z.
1st: H Street Country Club, 1335 H St. NE; 202-399-4722.
2nd: Buffalo Billiards: 1330 19th St. NW; 202-331-7665. (Dupont Circle)
3rd: Rocket Bar: 714 7th St. NW; 202-628-7665. (Gallery Place)

Sports/Gay Bar: Nellie’s Sports Bar

Every night at Nellie’s there’s a different activity — poker, drag bingo, trivia. Or you can just sit and take in a game at D.C.’s only gay sports bar, which boasts a thriving community of regulars, beer by the bucket, a beat-the-clock happy hour where beers get more expensive every hour, and a spacious, friendly rooftop to while away warm autumn nights. You can catch Redskins and United games as well as NASCAR, golf and “The Golden Girls.” A popular postgame haunt for amateur athletes, it’s a good place to meet fit young folks freshly triumphant from the field. F.Z.

Sports Bar
1st:
Nellie’s Sports Bar, 900 U St. NW; 202-332-6355. (U Street)
2nd: Buffalo Billiards: 1330 19th St. NW; 202-331-7665. (Dupont Circle)
3rd: Public Bar: multiple locations. (Dupont Circle)

Gay Bar
1st: 
Nellie’s Sports Bar, 900 U St. NW; 202-332-6355. (U Street)
2nd: Town Danceboutique: 2009 8th St. NW; 202-234-8696. (Shaw)
3rd: Cobalt: 1639 R St. NW; 202-232-4416. (Dupont Circle)

Editor’s Pick — Best Place To Vote With Your Dollars: Policy

Cast a “vote” at Policy when you order the red Pomegra“Mitt” Mojito or the blue Basil “Barack” Berry from now until election. (Note: Vote not official.)
Winner: Policy: 1904 14th St. NW; 202-387-7654. (U Street)

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