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Where to find food and drink specials for Election Day 2020

Joe Biden's love of subs from Capriotti's, a Delaware chain, has inspired local chefs to make their own versions of Capriotti's sandwiches on Election Day. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

This has been a year like no other, and by all accounts, it will be an election night like no other.

In Washington, we’re used to packing into bars with friends and co-workers, ordering cocktails while keeping our eyes glued to election coverage. Cheers, boos and screams greet each new state projection, and crowds stick around until the wee hours, waiting for networks to make the call. Sometimes, there are even puppies to cuddle to ease the stress.

That probably won’t be the case in 2020, according to The Washington Post’s Elise Viebeck: “While many Americans are accustomed to voting on Election Day and learning results that night, Election Day 2020 in fact marks the end of a lengthy voting period and the start of a potentially lengthy counting period.”

The coronavirus will prevent large gatherings, so instead of watch parties, many restaurants, bars and producers are sticking with food and drinks you can enjoy at home while watching the channel of your choice. Some bars will still host public watch parties, but with temperatures forecast to be in the 40s on Tuesday, you’ll want to plan ahead for the best seats (a.k.a. the ones near heaters).

While we feel like we have to say this every other year, it is most likely illegal for businesses to offer discounts or freebies to anyone wearing an “I voted” sticker. Still, given that we were writing about this in 2008, and the offers still pop up like weeds before every election, there’s little chance that the powers that be will actually enforce it this year.

We’ll update this list if more restaurants throw their hat into the ring.

Candidate sandwiches

When chefs think of Delaware, they think of Capriotti’s — a sandwich shop that began in Wilmington and now has locations as far afield as Texas and California. It’s a favorite of Joe Biden, too: At the opening of D.C.'s first Capriotti’s in 2013, Biden told reporters, “This is going to settle, once and for all, the best sandwich in America is out of Wilmington, Delaware. No more of this stuff about Chicago and Philly and New York. This settles it.”

At least two local chefs are preparing twists on Capriotti’s most famous sandwich — the Bobbie, an ode to Thanksgiving with turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. Fight Club, the sandwich-centric pop-up at Beuchert’s Saloon, offers a version with sausage stuffing, cranberry sauce and potato mayo ($14), while Arlington’s Bayou Bakery gives the sandwich a Cajun twist with cornbread stuffing, greens and a cranberry vinaigrette ($12). If you’d like to try the real thing, the closest Capriotti’s locations to D.C. are in Rosslyn and Annapolis.

Of course, both Fight Club and Bayou Bakery are also making President Trump-themed sandwiches: Fight Club’s Trumped Up Meatloaf Sandwich, made with ketchup-glazed meatloaf, onions and American cheese on white bread ($14), is a nod to the president’s choice of steak condiments, while Bayou’s Filet-O-Catfish is inspired by — well, you can probably guess. It features crispy catfish, pickled jalapeño tartar sauce and American cheese on a potato roll ($12). Bayou Bakery’s sandwiches will be available Monday and Tuesday, while Fight Club’s sandwiches are limited to Election Day.

Political drinks

Shaw’s Capo Italian Deli launched the Fauci Pouchy — a disposable Capri Sun-style pouch filled with vodka and lemonade — early in the pandemic, and it became one of this politics-obsessed city’s go-to warm-weather beverages. In the run-up to the election, the pouched options have expanded to include the Trumpkin Spice Latte (vodka, cold brew, almond milk and pumpkin spices); the Mike Pencecillin (mezcal, Earl Grey, cardamom); Joe Imbiben (spiced rum, cider, cinnamon syrup and Jagermeister); and the Pina Kamala (rum, pineapple, orange and nutmeg). Each pouch, which contains two drinks, is $14, but customers can also buy a two-pack for $28, which comes with a free “Vote” face mask, or buy four for $50.

In addition to Fight Club’s Election Day food specials (see above), the Capitol Hill bar will offer a lineup of four cocktails, including Cofeve (Jameson, coffee liqueur, lemon and honey) and “Mother Will Have” (gin, aperol, cherry blossom tea and lemon) for $12 to $14.

Denizens Brewing has brought back Woman, You Nasty!, a tasty Mexican chocolate porter with guajillo chiles and cinnamon originally brewed in January 2017 for the weekend of the inauguration and Women’s March. It’s available on tap in Denizens’ tap rooms in Silver Spring and Riverdale Park, and proceeds benefit the voting rights organization Fair Fight.

Republic Restoratives launched Purpose, a 100-proof straight rye whiskey, back in August, with 10 percent of sales donated to Fair Fight. But after the vice-presidential debate, Republic Restoratives — the first D.C. distillery founded by women — teamed up with local artist Samantha Testa to sell bottles engraved with “I’m Speaking” for $79. The bottles are available for pickup or delivery within D.C.

In September, DC Brau unveiled a kristallweizen — a golden, filtered hefeweizen — called Vote as part of the brewery’s voter information and registration drive. Vote is available at the brewery, and as part of an election-themed special at All Purpose Pizza, buy a pizza for $20 and add a Vote for 20 cents through Nov. 3.

Atlas Brew Works doesn’t have any politically themed beers on the menu — okay, maybe the sour saison dubbed Existential Dread fits the bill — but it’s worth noting that the Ivy City tap room is offering late-night beer delivery from 9 to 11 p.m. on election night. You know, just in case.

In-person election night parties

All seven branches of Busboys and Poets are celebrating on Tuesday, beginning with free Cervantes coffee until 11 a.m., and an all-day happy hour that includes $4 rail drinks, $5 glasses of wine, and $3 off signature cocktails. Election coverage will be shown on big screens at all locations.

The Electric Cool-Aid beer and mezcal garden in Shaw doesn’t have TVs, but its owners are bringing in a projection screen just for election night. The bar is serving special cocktails, including the I’m Speaking (a spicy frozen mocha) and the Squad (a frozen mango and ancho chili concoction). All orange drinks drop in price every time a state is called for Joe Biden, and a portion of the night’s proceeds will be donated to the ACLU.

Lou’s City Bar revamped its patio this summer, and the Columbia Heights bar is open for outdoor and indoor election-night viewing. Themed cocktails include #FreeMelania (a raspberry Cosmo) and the Trump Combover (vodka, fresh orange juice, burned orange, and “topped with fluffy whipped cream”). Worth noting: All food and drink specials will run until the election is officially finalized, whenever that may be.

Park View’s Midlands Beer Garden plans to show the results on outdoor TVs with $5 “Smokin’ Joe” barbecue beef sandwiches and discounted shots of Illegal Mezcal. (Proceeds from the shots benefit the Latin American Youth Center.) The party begins at 7 p.m., and reservations, made by emailing themidlandsdc@gmail.com, are recommended.

While the Red Derby’s indoor bar is closed, election coverage will be projected onto a big screen on the rooftop deck. To make a reservation for up to six people, email bar@redderby.com with your full name, contact information and preferred time. If you haven’t been to the Derby recently, you should know that they currently only take Venmo payments.

Shaw’s Tavern, the site of early-morning viewing parties for James B. Comey and Robert S. Mueller III’s Senate testimony as well as Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, will have all TVs on with sound, as well as its usual Tuesday night deals: $8 taco platters and $8 margaritas, with $20 pitchers available if needed. Doors open at 5 p.m.; reservations are recommended.

On a normal election night, Union Pub would have a sea of customers — after all, it’s only a block from Senate office buildings. This year, though, will be a little more chill. Multiple TVs on the covered patio will be showing election results, but capacity is limited and reservations are recommended. Doors open at 4 p.m., and the party runs until 11:30. (Remember, D.C. bars must close at midnight.)

‘I voted’ rewards

That “I voted” sticker is good for more than civic pride. Show it off and you can get …

  • 10 percent off all purchases at Ben’s Next Door.
  • A free five or seven ounce taster of any beer at Atlas Brew Works on Election Day.
  • A free chocolate chip cookie from Mah-Ze-Dahr on Election Day.
  • Entry into a contest to win a “Barrel of Booze” — a 25-ounce wooden barrel filled with a cocktail, such as a Negroni, Manhattan or Boulevardier — from Barrel. The Capitol Hill whiskey bar notes: “The winner of the raffle may or may not be announced (via Barrel’s social media accounts) before the winner of the presidential election is declared.”
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