Fritz's Wish List: Drinks With Friends
While I could use a new flat-screen TV, home wet bar or made-to-measure suit for Christmas, the holiday season is really about spending time with the people who mean the most to me. That's why, if I had unlimited funds, I'd be treating my friends to an expensive night on the town.
Bottle service is ubiquitous on the Washington nightlife scene; it seems the easiest way to get into most lounges these days is to reserve a table and promise that your party will spend a few hundred bucks on drinks. Fly Lounge is no exception, as most of its capacity is reserved for people who've booked tables with $600 minimums. But its first class section - the so-called Entourage table - is special. The leather couches in this large private area supposedly have room for 15 people, though I think anything more than a dozen would be pushing it. They're grouped around large tables shaped like afterburners, and the ice buckets in the middle of the tables glow orange.
But it's more than just an oversized private booth. Separated from the rest of the crowd by velvet ropes, the Entourage table has a volume switch that allows its occupants to lower the volume of the music slightly. It's not as effective at 1 a.m. when the crowd is buzzing, but it's a nice touch. Beyond that, the clincher may be a truly first class amenity: A private, passcode-protected bathroom means you never have to wait in line.
For all this luxury, you'll need to pay more. On a Friday or Saturday night, reserving the Entourage table requires a minimum tab of $2,000, which doesn't include the 20 percent gratuity. Looking down the bar's menu, I think I'd be happy sipping vintage Cristal champagne all night. At $595 per bottle, I'd have to buy four to meet the minimum. That sounds like the perfect refreshment for listening to Dirty Hands spin hip-hop, rock and '80s music.
Or, if we were in the mood for drinking martinis and acting like grownups instead of dancing on tables and downing tequila shots - both of which happened on my last trip to Fly - I'd throw a cocktail party at the PX, Todd Thrasher's retro speakeasy in Old Town. Thrasher's drink list is full of amazing vintage drinks - Gibsons with house-pickled onions, gin fizzes with homemade vermouth and a hint of orange - and the three-roomed lounge is a cozy place that reminds me of a set from the "Thin Man" movies, full of antique furniture and delicate chandeliers.
With a capacity of just 40, it's hard to get a group of people together at the popular bar, so the best option is to rent it out for the evening. For a three-hour cocktail party - that's 7 to 10 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday - the minimum bar tab is $3,500 (Eight percent tax and a 20 percent gratuity are extra.). A maximum of 35 guests can attend, and the breakdown of the bill needs to be roughly 70 percent drinks, 30 percent charcuterie/cheeses/pates. Thankfully, everyone gets a champagne cocktail on arrival.
If I don't find a sugar momma by the holidays, my friends and I will probably fall back on our standbys: Science Club, which will let anyone reserve a table for free and then just pay for drinks as they go, or the Red Derby, where we take over the couches, play music from our iPods and drink canned beer all night long.
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