Dupont and Logan Circle barcrawlers have been eagerly awaiting the expansion of Halo, the trendy gay lounge that opened last summer in a shoebox-sized second-floor walkup across the street from Whole Foods. The friendly crowd, excellent cocktails and smoke-free environs made Halo so popular that crowds grew sardine-tight around the bar on weekends, and the entry line stretched past neighboring storefronts.
Last weekend, Halo unofficially unveiled its new street-level bar, which takes over the space formerly occupied by Empire Video. It's all very familiar -- the low, round leather ottomans big enough for four; a sleek backlit bar -- but the new level feels much more spacious, thanks to a judicious use of mirrors and an improved layout that minimizes the clustering of furniture.
Halo's new look is impressive, but hanging out there is still pricey. A call martini (made with brands like Hanger One vodka or Hendrick's gin) costs just under $13; one of the bar's signature mojitos, muddled with fresh blueberries, raspberries or pineapple chunks, is $10.95. All the more reason, then, to get there between 5 and 9, when drinks are two-for-one. (Halo uses a strange system where, even if you're running a tab, you have to save your receipt to give to the bartender when you order a second round. But this ticket can be used at any time during the four-hour window.)
An invitation-only grand opening party takes place tomorrow night from 8 to 10, followed by an event with City Councilmember (and mayoral candidate) Adrian Fenty and singer Crystal Waters.
It's worth checking out. And actually, Halo's visitors may not have a choice. When I stopped in around 9 last Saturday night, all patrons were directed into the new space, and were told the upstairs would open "later." It's an old club tactic -- make the place look busier and more happening by funneling people into half the space. As long as there are no artificial lines outside, I don't have a complaint.
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