Tuesday: The Museum of the American Cocktail’s annual Holiday Cocktail Seminar is one of the stellar events of the season. It’s helpful if you’re planning a holiday gathering and looking for a signature drink to serve your guests. It’s also a great excuse to spend an evening in the company of some of the area’s finest bartenders, including Chantal Tseng of the Tabard Inn, Adam Bernbach of Proof, and Todd Thrasher of PX and TNT Bar, as they whip up their favorite seasonal tipples at the Warehouse Theater. You get to sip samples and snack on appetizers, listen to the hosts dispense bartending secrets and take home copies of the recipes. This year, you’ll also hear from Victoria Vergason, the author of “Capitol Cocktail,” and Philip Greene, whose new book, “To Have and Have Another,” explores the cocktails depicted in Ernest Hemingway’s fiction.
Thursday: The next two weeks are packed with events for beer lovers: parties with dozens of holiday brews on tap, an appearance by Dogfish Head supremo Sam Calagione and a celebration at 3 Stars, D.C.’s newest brewery, with craft beers and artisan snacks. (We have a list of everything over on the GOG Blog.) But from a purely gustatory standpoint, the most fascinating is Scion’s Secret Stash Party on Thursday. Scion’s Tim Liu has gathered more than 50 beers that aren’t usually distributed in the Washington area, including Gumballhead IPA, Alpha Klaus porter and six others from Indiana’s Three Floyds; Santa’s Little Helper and Mongo IPA from California’s Port Brewing; four brews from San Diego’s Alesmith; and a trio of beers each from Chicago’s Pipeworks, Wisconsin’s Tyranena and Pennsylvania’s Sly Fox. It’s a chance to rediscover brews you sampled on a road trip or back home, or explore that IPA that receives fawning praise on ratebeer.com but you’ve never been able to track down. There’s no entry fee, and every beer is priced individually. Liu warns that some beers are more limited than others, so early arrival is required.
Thursday: J-Zone became a cult figure in underground rap for his humorous body of work, which began in the late ’90s, but he’s also an accomplished producer and writer. J-Zone’s observations on the reality of rap life draw the curtain back and bare all the struggles in a way that pulls no punches while lobbing heavy punchlines. He’s a bottomless well of hip-hop trivia, which he weaves into his freelance writing and Twitter feed. His book “Root for the Villain” is a must for every curmudgeonly grown-up hip-hop head. But J-Zone is a solid party-rocking DJ, with deep old school crates and an arsenal of funk 45s. The New York DJ is in town for two nights, spinning and generally kicking it on Wednesday at Fever’s weekly Classic Material party and on Thursday at 1920dc.
Saturday: Like your favorite high school chemistry teacher, Nerd Nite tries hard to strike a balance between entertainment and education. Unlike in high school, it usually succeeds. The monthly gathering at DC9, which celebrates its third anniversary this week, allows self-described nerds to deliver a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation about their favorite subjects to a packed barroom. Over the years, audiences have learned the secrets of Scrabble champions, seen early drawings by “Calvin and Hobbes” author Bill Watterson, delved into the violent mating rituals of insects and even watched a model volcano erupt in the middle of the dance floor. This time around, the lineup includes a researcher from Virginia Tech talking about her research into the surprising effects of contraception in wild horses, a discussion of the benefits of symbiosis in bacteria and insects, and “What Birds Have to Say About the Impending Zombie Apocalypse.” The indie-rock band Showpony plays between lectures, and a “Nerd Cocktail” is $4 all night. Be there and be square.
There’s even more after the jump, including one last Cheeky Monkey Sideshow at the Red Palace, “America’s Next Drag Superstar” Sharon Needles at Town and a go-go Christmas party at the Howard Theatre.
Thursday, Dec. 13
Tiesto’s two nights at Echostage have sold out, but you can still catch DJ Ken Loi at Josephine on Thursday. No, he’s not Tiesto — no one is — but the San Francisco-based house DJ has gotten some serious nods from the Dutch legend: His summer banger “All It Takes” was released Tiesto’s Musical Freedom label, he has a show on Tiesto’s Club Life station on Sirius XM and he was the opening act when Tiesto performed to a sold-out Home Depot Center in Los Angeles. Tickets are $20 in advance.
Friday, Dec. 14
“The End of an Era Show” sounds like hyperbole, but it’s not: The Cheeky Monkey Sideshow is taking the stage at the Red Palace for the last time before the club closes in 2013. A fixture since the days when the building housed the Palace of Wonders, Cheeky Monkey’s always-entertaining show included burlesque, sword swallowing, magic tricks and stunts involving broken glass, flaming batons and nails hammered in unnatural places. Either you’ll miss it or you’ll never know what you missed, so you should head to H Street one last time.
Saturday, Dec. 15
No one who watched “RuPaul’s Drag Race” will ever forget Sharon Needles ’s goth-meets-gaga outfits, antics and attitude. The reigning “America’s Next Drag Superstar” performs during Town’s regular 10:30 p.m. drag show this week, while DJ Summer Camp runs the upstairs dance floor. Fans should note that the cover is $12 this week, instead of the usual $8 before 11 p.m., and that the club is selling tickets to an exclusive pre-show meet-and-greet with Sharon Needles for $50, which begins at 9.
After years honing its Irish/klezmer/rock sound with raucous gigs in local pubs, Scythian has grown to be a regular on the national Celtic and folk festival circuits. But the band still finds time to make it back to D.C. for an annual holiday concert at the 9:30 Club, which features an ugly sweater contest, a killer medley of seasonal songs and plenty of driving, energetic music led by classically trained violins and backed by accordion, banjo and guitar. Hold on to your pints and get ready to sing along.
Christmas needs more frilly undergarments, comedy and tasteful cheesecake. If that sounds like something you’d agree with, then Burlesque Classique’s Christmas show at DCAC will be a great way to spend an evening.
Monday, Dec. 17
As long as the hearts of everyone who loved him keep beating to a go-go rhythm, Chuck Brown is still here among us. His band continues to serve up the grooves just the way it did when he was at the helm. You can catch the band at its usual Monday night jam at the Howard Theatre, along with a special Christmas treat, including the ladies of Bela Dona as well as Shorty Corleone of Rare Essence and Buggs of Junkyard Band.