Party Plans
BY ELLEN MCCARTHY  |  OCTOBER 31, 2008

One year, 11 months and nine days ago, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack registered to become a candidate for president of the United States. Since then, it has been incessant. Giuliani and Richardson, Kucinich and Edwards. Biden, Thompson, Paul -- all parading across our screens with promises and platitudes. Straw polls, primaries and swing states. Now, finally, it's here ... Barack Obama vs. John McCain, and the polls are about to open! In Washington, Election Day is like Christmas, New Year's and the Super Bowl all rolled into one, with a deliriously passionate audience and very real consequences. It's also the social event of the season. Many area bars are doing it up big-time. We'll show you where to go on Tuesday, depending on your election-watch preferences: rowdy or civilized, leftleaning or right-, beer or booze. Happy voting and hail to the chief -- whomever that turns out to be!   » Get details on more parties in the GOG blog.

  HAWK 'N' DOVE BUSBOYS AND POETS BAR 1331 CAPITOL LOUNGE BWI HILTON THE LOBBY BAR ARLINGTON CINEMA 'N' DRAFTHOUSE

MONTGOMERY CINEMA 'N' DRAFTHOUSE
LOCATION 329 Pennsylvania Ave. SE., 202-543-3300
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2021 14th St. NW, 202-387-7638; 4251 S. Campbell Ave., Arlington, 703-379-9756
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JW Marriott, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202-393-2000
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229 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, 202-547-2098
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1739 West Nursery Rd., Linthicum Heights, 410-694-0808
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Ritz-Carlton, 1150 22nd St. NW, 202-835-0500
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2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington, 703-486-2345
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11006 Veirs Mill Rd., Silver Spring, 301-949-9200
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STATE OF AFFAIRS Engrossed and boozy, with an appropriate touch of tension. Exuberant if Barack Obama pulls away early. Despondent if he doesn't. Festive. Sure, it's within spitting distance of the White House, but the crowd intends to have a good time no matter who's chosen to become the bar's new neighbor. Raucous. You know those glow-in-the-dark necklaces the kids wear at raves? Cap Lounge has ordered them in red, white and blue if that tells you anything. Touch and go. The Maryland Republican Party is planning to host its victory celebration here. And if there's no victory? (Crickets.) Fancy. If you like your politics with an air of refi nement (in honor of our ailing Nancy Reagan perhaps?), this is the clubhouse for you. Dramatic. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll see Larry King's face larger than you've ever seen it before. (Think: "Scary Movie 6: Election Night.")
PARTY LINES 60-40 Democrats to Republicans. Most of them current or former Hill staffers who have a lot at stake in these elections. 99.5 percent Dems. Maybe one Bob Barr supporter in a corner somewhere. 50-50. The X-factor is the out-of-town contingent willing to mix it up with wonky locals. Evenly split, though unified by a love of cheap beer. 99.9 percent Republican. The only outlier is that grimacing bartender in the corner. Undecided -- and delicious! Throughout the election, patrons can vote with their palates, ordering red and blue campaign cocktails in honor of their preferred candidates. Results of the fierce competition will be tallied at the end of the night. Jumbled. These might be the only election-watching venues that have actual aisles, but we guarantee they'll get crossed continually throughout the evening.
STATION BREAK(DOWN) 17 TVs, all turned to PBS or MSNBC. Seven TVs, including two projection screens and one plasma facing out the window on 14th Street. True to its populist roots, the staff will put on whatever channel the crowd wants. (Probably PBS or CNN.) Ten flat-screen TVs showing all the biggies and whatever other channels seem to be having fun. MTV? Comedy Central, perhaps? More than 30 TVs showing all the major networks and news channels. Giant projection screen will be on Fox News. Several smaller TVs will show other stations. Five big-screen TVs throughout the bar and lobby, with all the major networks. CNN on the big screens. But you can also bounce around to catch snippets of Fox News, MSNBC and Comedy Central.
PRIMARY LIBATION Bud Light. Or Miller Light. Maybe whiskey, if things don't go your way. There are 14 political cocktails on the menu, including the "Delaware Dude" for Joe Biden and the "Todd-Todd Palin" for the first dude of Alaska. Show your colors with a cocktail: The Grand Old Potable (GOP) is red; On the Fence is white; and the Left of Center is blue. Beer, of course. And in fairness to both sides, you can choose from draft Bud dyed red or blue. Want a nonpartisan purple mix? Try tipping well. Red wine seems appropriate. Cranberry and soda if you're the designated driver -- or prone to drunk texting former loves from election years past. The mixologists have had a good time with this one. Pick one of the red cocktails: the Elegant Elephant, the Phoenix Sun, Palin's Pit Bull and the Red Rum Runner. Or the blue: the Delicate Donkey, the Obama Pama, the Blue Hawaiian or the Not-So-Average Joe. It ain't called the Drafthouse for nothing. Twenty beers on tap: Pick your poison.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR A pundit at every table. Maybe in every chair. The people here live this stuff, and they're not shy about sharing their opinions. A line of blue shirts snakes out the door. A blogosphere corner where laptops abound. And a champagne toast in the Shirlington location if Obama takes Virginia. Party games! Quizzes on presidential history. Photo ops with life-size cutouts of the candidates -- you know, for your Election '08 memory box! Uncle Sam hats! Liberty tiaras! Streamers and Mardi Gras beads, flags and fake tattoos! Twentyfour-year-old legislative assistants stumbling drunk long before swingstate results come in! Ubiquitous flag pins and BlackBerrys. Balloons and confetti waiting in the wings. Exhausted campaign workers trying not to yawn. Rotating drink specials. Each time a state is called for Obama, blue drinks will be half-price. When John McCain nabs one, it's time to order red. Confused patrons with bloodshot eyes who thought they were showing up for a screening of "Pineapple Express."
POLITICAL FERVOR LEVEL

5 Flags

"We are the foremost political bar in the United States of America, 47 out of 48 months," brags owner Paul Meagher. "In leap years, there is one bar that beats us: in Des Moines, Iowa, during the caucuses."

5 Flags

The activist crowd here has been counting down to this day for, oh, about four years now.

2 Flags

No crying over lost swing states here. Let the games begin!

3 Flags

This is Capitol Hill, but it's hard to feel too much of anything after four red beers and two blue ones.

5 Flags

This crew really cares. But if it's not looking good, look for a late-evening downgrade to half-staff.

3 Flags

It's too posh to really be rowdy, but don't underestimate the Palin passion stirred by a couple of elk sliders -- it's the other moose meat.

2 Flags

Here politics is pure entertainment.

Political Fervor

Whether politics is a pastime or a profession, we've got the right party -- and the right election-night ambiance -- for each of you.

1 Flag Pin: ESPN on the big screen? What is this, Canada?  |  2 Flag Pins: Election Day? Yea! Time to break out the red and blue liqueurs!  |  3 Flag Pins: You're not in Kansas anymore. This is Washington: firm opinions, political attire, polished talking points required.  |  4 Flag Pins: Politics?? This isn't politics. This is life. Take the Mardi Gras beads elsewhere.  |  5 Flag Pins: Heeyyyyy, Canada. There's still lots of room up there, right? 'Cause if the other guy wins, we're moving.

ILLUSTRATION: Michelle Change - For The Washington Post; WEB EDITOR: Anne Kenderdine - washingtonpost.com

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