UPDATE: Due to the snow, some Mardi Gras-related events have been postponed or canceled.
Before we begin, pour out a little bit of that watered-down Hurricane for McFadden's: Lest we forget, this is the first Mardi Gras in years without the Foggy Bottom pub, which advertised last year's Masquerade Ball with the memorable slogan, "What deeds will you do for beads?"
UPDATE: On Tuesday, Bayou announced the parade has been canceled, but Yamomanem will perform at Bayou from 3 to 5 p.m. The bar will be open tonight and Mardi Gras celebrations will be in full swing.
In Washington, the Yamomanem brass band is assembling at the Dupont Circle fountain at 4 p.m. From there, they'll march down New Hampshire Avenue towards Bayou, the New Orleans-themed restaurant in Foggy Bottom, while fans follow, dancing in the traditional second-line parade. Admission to Bayou is $25, which includes an all-you-can-eat buffet from 5 to 9 p.m. plus dancing to Zack Smith and the Dixie Power Trio and the Brass Connection Band.
UPDATE: On Monday, the Clarendon Alliance announced that its annual Mardi Gras parade has been postponed until St. Patrick's Day, March 17.
The 16-year-old Clarendon-Courthouse Mardi Gras parade includes fanciful floats sponsored by local businesses and civic groups, plus marching bands, dance troupes and decorated cars. (Beware of flying beads, which are flung from every float.) The parade, which begins at 8 p.m., runs down Wilson Boulevard from Barton Street (near the Court House Metro station) to Washington Boulevard. After the parade, the festivities continue at local bars. Iota has a free show with the high-energy Afropop band Elikeh, Abita specials and gumbo shots, beginning at 8:30. The Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill has a prime vantage point from which to view the parade's starting line, plus a DJ playing New Orleans party tunes; hurricane and beer specials; and a menu of Cajun dishes, including gumbo and shrimp etouffee. Doors open at 6 p.m.
You don't have to go to New Orleans to hear the authentic sounds of Louisiana on Fat Tuesday.
The famous Dirty Dozen Brass Band, which expands the boundaries of what a street band should sound like while still tapping into New Orleans' soul, performs at the Hamilton. Tickets are $25 for standing room and $30 for a guaranteed seat.
At Glen Echo Park, there's a zydeco dance party with Jeffery Broussard and the Creole Cowboys. Broussard was the singer and accordionist in the popular zydeco band Zydeco Force, and this should be a great dance party. If you don't know the steps, there's a free zydeco lesson from 8 to 8:30, followed by music until 11 p.m. Admission is $18.
Food and drinks
Bayou Bakery is once again throwing the Bayou Gras block party with music, beads and free admission and free food for all kids 12 and younger. There are three ticket options, which can be combined: The $30 Krewe de Roux pass gets any three dishes from chef David Guas, including Muff-a-Lotta, chicken and sausage gumbo, and cheesy Crawfish Monica. The $25 Krewe de Booze includes three cocktails, poured in souvenir cups. The $15 Krewe de Brew is good for three beers from Louisiana's Abita brewing. There's music and dancing in the heated tent, followed by a trip to the Clarendon Mardi Gras parade (see above).
If you're willing to pay more, Acadiana's $100-per-person celebration includes an open bar, a dinner of oyster po'boys, mini muffuletta sandwiches, char-broiled oysters, chicken gumbo and jambalaya, plus Heavenly Hash and beignets for dessert. Tickets are available in advance.
Too much commitment? Head to GBD, which is making king cake doughnuts for the day.
New Orleans is one of America's cocktail capitals, the birthplace of many iconic drinks. McClellan's Retreat pays homage to New Orleans with a special menu that includes a Sazerac, the Vieux Carre, Absinthe Frappe and the De la Louisiane. And since it wouldn't be Mardi Gras without a Hurricane, a refined version of the popular rum drink will be served from the bar's punch bowl.
For other bars, Mardi Gras is just an excuse for a boozy party.
The 14th-annual Bourbon Street Bash at Rumors offers live funk from the Higher Hands band, DJs spinning pop music, a Cajun hot wing eating contest, $2 Coors Light, $3 Blue Moon and $4 Three Olives vodka drinks. Tickets are $5 in advance, and will cost more at the door. UPDATE: Due to the snow, the party will now start at noon.
Freddie's Beach Bar in Crystal City has Mardi Gras-themed drink specials and plenty of beads, beginning at 4 p.m.
The Brixton offers $5 Hurricanes on its main level and the heated rooftop deck, and an extended happy hour with $5 drafts, $5 New Amsterdam cocktails and $6 wine from 5 to 10 p.m. UPDATE: The bar is opening at 1 p.m., with $5 Hurricanes and $5 mulled wine all day.
On H Street NE, the Big Board has $5 Abita beers all night, plus $2 Cajun shrimp tacos in honor of Mardi Gras and Taco Tuesday.
The Capital Cocktail Competition has nothing to do with Mardi Gras, but you will get to see bartenders from Jack Rose, Hank's on the Hill, Gypsy Soul and other well-known bars going head-to-head at Black Jack to raise money for charity. The $30 tickets include hors d'oeuvres, $2 Flying Dog and Abita beers and $2 Hurricanes. Proceeds benefit the Black's Family Foundation.