Planning a holiday party? Book it now.

By Fritz Hahn
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 5, 2010

Holiday party season is almost here, and if you're trying to host a happy-hour get-together for friends - or something bigger to impress your boss - planning can get a little confusing. Bar minimums per hour? Room-rental fees? Can you bring an iPod to play your favorite seasonal tunes?

With this guide, we've attempted to make some sense of the possibilities out there, and even found a few places that will give you the space for free - as long as you're flexible enough.


Buffalo BilliardsThe sprawling subterranean pool hall has numerous rooms and areas that can be reserved. (We're partial to the lodge-like Adirondack Room, which has pool and shuffleboard tables and dart boards, and can hold up to 175 people, and the smaller, more elegant Victorian Room, big enough for 50.) Rates vary wildly - you'll pay $650 to take over the Adirondack Room for two hours on a Friday night, which doesn't include the minimum bar tab (which is variable, based on day and time), or $200 to rent out the Victorian Room for two hours Sunday through Wednesday.

A budget-friendly idea: Take over part of the Adirondack Room on Thursday through Sunday and get unlimited use of three pool tables and two dart boards - with no need for a minimum tab - for $350 for two hours and $150 for additional hours.

1330 19th St. NW. 202-331-7665.

Iron Horse Tap Room

The motorcycle-themed bar is large enough that you could probably show up with 30 friends midweek and carve out your own spot, but you can also reserve a large part of the downstairs space for private events for up to 75 people. For $150 an hour (or $250 an hour Thursday through Saturday), you get your own bar and bartender, a private bathroom, unlimited use of a shuffleboard table, flat-screen TVs, couches and several video games, including Big Buck Hunter. Prices, managers note, are flexible. If you come in on a slow night, or negotiate a minimum bar tab, they'll generally waive the rental fee.

507 Seventh St. NW.

Laughing Man Tavern

Its convenient Metro Center location has made Laughing Man Tavern a popular place for fundraiser happy hours and group parties. The large downstairs bar area holds 150, with smaller side rooms that hold 25 or 40. There are 13 TVs, and party planners can bring an iPod to spin tunes. But what makes Laughing Man worth a look are its fees: There's no room rental charge and a $10 per person minimum for the whole night. If 50 people show up at your happy hour between 5 and 8, the bartender should ring sales of at least $500, which seems awfully doable, especially given the weekday specials: $4 appetizers and all drafts, wines and rail drinks between 3 and 8 p.m.

1306 G St. NW. 202-737-1797.

Little Miss Whiskey's Golden Dollar

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