Editors' pick

Caddies on Cordell

Sports Bar, Bar
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Editorial Review

In Bethesda, a Hole in One
By Fritz Hahn
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, June 27, 2008

The buzz: With the now-sadly-Tigerless AT&T National teeing off at Congressional Country Club next week, my thoughts naturally turned to the 19th hole. Bethesda's Caddies on Cordell is the natural place to go.

Pin flags from the Masters, the British Open, the Old Course at St. Andrews and dozens of other legendary venues flutter from the ceiling. Several of the tavern's 32 high-definition TVs are usually turned to the Golf Channel if not the weekend's big tournament. The Golden Tee arcade game has a steady stream of users. And days after the U.S. Open, chatter from multiple happy hour groups still express disbelief at the way Tiger Woods eked out a win.

The golf-themed sports bar is perfectly located, too, just a few miles from Congressional.

But Caddies offers far more than sports-bar kitsch. "I love everything about it!" enthuses regular Tom Herzfeld, 28, who works for the Navy. "I love the bartenders and the $2 Bud Lights [at happy hour]. The location is awesome." He pauses. "And you know what? Have you had a problem getting a drink yet?"

I admit I haven't. The bartenders work through the throngs packed around the bar like it was a sleepy Monday night.

Customer Shad Kirley, a physician's assistant, says he prefers the bar's huge patio, where the action is on weekends. "I really like the open atmosphere," he says, pointing toward the bar's two large garage doors, which roll up in fine weather.

Will Moreno chimes in. "I like that old [coots] and young people fit in pretty well here," he says with a laugh. He has a point: A group of 20-something women at the bar is next to a couple of silver-haired men. Seated near the bar are married couples, singles, post-game softball teams and post-college groups dancing to hip-hop and rock tunes.

Moreno, who says he's "older" and in sales, praises the bartenders for remembering names and favorite drinks and says his favorite memory of Caddies was a few years ago, when the AT&T was known by a different name. "Sergio Garcia [after winning the Booz Allen Classic] came in here and drank with us. He was just a regular guy."

The scene: Caddies on Cordell opened in late 2002, the dream of three bartenders who worked for a nearby sports bar. All three love playing golf, explains Gabriel Coulon, one of the partners, and when a friend's wife suggested the name, it stuck.

They began acquiring the golf memorabilia that decorates the room, including 18th-green flags from multiple courses and tournaments. Since opening, a number of pros have stopped in for a beer, and a few have left their mark. Nick Faldo signed a pin flag from the Masters, which he has won three times, and Ben Curtis, who won the 2003 British Open, signed a flag from that tournament.

The large fenced patio is one of the main attractions, with seating for 75. On weekends, the capacity can jump to 125, Coulon says, though it's spacious enough that it doesn't seem crowded, and a tiki-style satellite bar dispenses drinks for the folks outdoors.

Any overflow can head for the rear of the bar, where a dining section contains large booths and a number of huge TVs. I'd rather slip upstairs, where more TVs and tables await, as well as a balcony that looks over the patio and Cordell Avenue.

A DJ plays Wednesdays during '80s night, when beers are $2 and $3 until late. Caddies is Bethesda's finest sports bar, but it's still a sports bar with a heavy baseball-cap-and-flip-flops post-collegiate kind of crowd.

In your glass: Miller Lite, Bud Light, Yuengling -- whatever's on special. There are plenty, too, weekdays from 4 to 7: $3 Coronas and Landshark on Fridays, $2 Miller Lite, Bud Light and Yuengling on Mondays and Tuesdays, $2 Budweiser and Bud Lights and $3 Bass on Wednesdays, $10 buckets of domestic bottles on Thursdays. Mixed drinks come in regular and large sizes, and though you'll occasionally hear someone calling for a Red Bull and vodka or Long Island iced tea, it doesn't get much fancier than that.

On your plate: Caddies does bar food with a few twists. Of the four slider options, go for the buffalo version: chicken tossed in a just-spicy-enough sauce, topped with bacon, lettuce and tomato and served with blue cheese for dipping. There's an excellent salad menu, too, with a choice of lettuce and greens, plus 30 ingredients you can toss in, including bacon, feta cheese and spiced walnuts.

Price points: Even outside of happy hour, bottles of domestic beers don't go much higher than $2.75 (plus tax). Food is on the expensive side: $10.50 for four mini-burgers, $9.50 for a dozen wings, $11.50 for a heaping plate of nachos if you want chicken with them ($9.50 if you don't).