Where to Watch the Final Debate
There's only one more presidential debate left before the election, and if you haven't made it out to a bar to watch John McCain and Barack Obama -- or, more memorably, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin -- then you're missing out on one of the great Washington traditions: Standing around with a beer while cheering for your guy and booing the other one. Capitol Hill is obviously the best place for this, but there are choices all over the area. The only warning: Go early. Some bars are reporting that they have filled up 90 minutes before start time.
As always, here's a list of suggested destinations, all of which will have the sound on so you can hear every word.
If you're an Obama supporter you have a ton of options on Wednesday night. McCain voters ... well, if you know of any more, please leave 'em in the comments field.
Union Station's presidential suite, used by chief executives from Taft to Eisenhower and many kings and queens of the world, is now occupied by B. Smith's southern restaurant. Seems like a natural place to watch the debate, especially because the bar will have special happy hour prices and themed cocktails, including the "Obama Bahama Mama" and the "McCain Mt. Gay mojito." Some lucky debate-viewer will win meals at the restaurant.
A young crowd, heavy on staffers and leaning slightly Republican, drifts in early for the happy hour ($3 Bud and Bud Light bottles, $3 Yuenglings, $3 house ambers and $4 rail drinks from 4 to 7) and sticks around for all-night deals like $1 taco platters and $4 quesadillas.
Hawk and Dove
Hill interns and staffers know to arrive early for the free happy hour spread and cheap drinks from 4 to 7 ($1.95 beers and $2 rail drinks). While the debate plays on 16 TVs, score deals like $1.95 Miller Lite drafts (until 9 p.m.) and $10 buckets of Corona or Dos Equis bottles (all night). Managers say that Democrats usually outnumber Republicans here, though crowds are very close.
The cool martini lounge will have special martinis named for each candidate -- at the Vice Presidential debate, it was the red Palin Punch and blue Biden Bellini -- and a choice of seating in the large front bar or the lounge in the back. All glasses of wine are half-price all night.
The debate will be on all the televisions of the bar at Tortilla Coast, and although the restaurant's managers say they're not doing anything special, they'll have the usual Wednesday night deals -- 10-cent wings and $2.75 Miller Lite -- for anyone who stops by, as well as the usual free chips and salsa.
The most important debate at Union Pub on Wednesday may be how Manny Ramirez would do on a World Series return to Fenway Park. Union Pub prides itself a sports bar, so that's what will get most of the attention on Wednesday night, though the manager assures me that, "It will be on televisions with the sound on in the [smaller] side room, at least, depending what's happening with baseball." And you can't beat the specials: $1.50 bottles of Budweiser and Bud Light and $5 margaritas all night.
The JW Marriott's bar, located two-and-a-half blocks from the White House, is having a lot of fun with the election, posting trivia cards around the lounge and coming up with special cocktails (the red Grand Old Potable and the blue Left of the Isle), whose sales are tallied to determine which "party" is ahead. The debate will be shown on 11 flatscreen TVs, and a full menu, including "left wings" and "right wings" is available.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art
This sounds pretty arty and pretty cool: "A live remix of the presidential debate" features three MIT grads manipulating words and images from the debate as it happens, charting the words used, turning the candidates into shadows -- things like that. "ReConstitution" was previously held in New York and Boston. Tickets are $25 for Corcoran members and $30 for the public. See the Corcoran Web site for more information and advance tickets.
Crystal City Sports Pub
The state societies of Alaska, Arizona, Delaware and Illinois are joining forces for a big debate-watching party in Crystal City. Admission is free for members of those four state societies and $15 for everyone else. (That price includes free appetizers for the first 150 attendees and two drink tickets.) Purchase tickets on the Arizona State Society Web site.
How to deal with the economic crisis: $10 for unlimited canned beers from 8 to the end of the debate (everything from Bud and Miller Lite to Natty Boh and Schlitz) and $6 for Duffy Burgers (meat or veggie), served up with fries or tater tots.
The Park at 14th
The team behind the Bisnow trade publications are hosting the "Democrats Vs. Republicans Hip Happy Hour" for professionals from the real estate, technology, law, medical and trade association communities for pre-debate drinks. Happy hour networking runs from 6 to 8; stick around for the war of words afterwards.
The Red Derby
The comfy little Columbia Heights bar will project the debate onto the wall -- a picture about six feet across -- for its patrons. Since it's White Russian Wednesday, those drinks are $4 all night.
The "Non-Partisan Debate Watching Party" -- hosted by a McCain supporter and self-proclaimed Reagan Democrat -- splits Summers into two sides, with the Republicans in one room watching the event on Fox News and the Democrats on the other viewing CNN. Of course, the fun happens when seats are filled up and the Republicans have to squeeze into the Democrat side and vice versa. Attendees are requested to arrive by 7:30 to secure seats. One thing everyone can agree on: The restaurant will be non-smoking for the night.
Hilton Alexandria Mark Center
Alexandria Republicans are gathering in the lobby bar at the Hilton Mark Center.
Holiday Inn (Ballston)
The Arlington County Republican Committee and Arlington/Falls Church Young Republicans are trading Crystal City for Ballston's Holiday Inn. (Maybe they're going to rumble with the Arlington Young Democrats, who are at Bailey's a few blocks away?) Meet in the Sidetrack Lounge at 7:30; food and drink specials will be offered. RSVPs are appreciated.
Bailey's Pub and Grille
The official gathering place for Arlington Democrats will show the debate on multiple TVs and feature games like buzzword bingo. Admission is free for members and $10 for everyone else, and that price includes one drink.
The debate will be on all 15 flatscreen TVs around Bar Louie's bar area. DC for Obama and Foreign Policy Professionals for Obama are hosting the party, which runs from 8 to 11. A donation of $10 is suggested at the door.
The African Diaspora for Obama -- including Eritreans for Obama, Ethiopians for Obama and Somalis for Obama -- is hosting a meeting with Obama adviser Witney Schneidman to discuss the campaign's positions on items crucial to Africa. In addition to debate watching, there's a performance by the Mahala Band from South Africa. The event begins at 6, and a $10 donation is suggested at the door.
Forget about pool, darts and Wii and watch the debate on multiple flatscreen TVs. Donations will be accepted at the door.
Busboys and Poets
All three locations of Busboys and Poets (14th Street, Shirlington and the new City Vista at 5th and K) are hosting watch parties with full sound. Ask about the special drinks created specifically for the occasion, like the "Obama" and the "Biden." U Street and Shirlington will have the debate on 10-foot projection screens, while City Vista will have it on all five TVs. Between 4 and 6, the Shirlington location has organic beers for $4 each.
The restaurant at Results the Gym -- formerly Health Bar -- offers free appetizers and drink specials from 8:30 to 11. There's no cover, though donations to Obama for America are accepted.
The Fair Oaks Mall sports bar is the destination for local democrats. Doors open at 8.
The Young Latino Professionals and Young Latinos for Obama are hosting an event that includes a network happy hour with drink specials and a conference call with Latino leaders before the debate begins. Doors open at 7, and a $25 donation is suggested
The new Smooth Jazz Wednesday features local pianist Marcus Johnson and his group playing on either side of the debate. Arrive between 5 and 7 for free admission and two free drinks, or grab a pass for discounted admission ($5 off the $15 cover) by visiting justelounge.com.
Nellie's Sports Bar
Every TV in the U Street sports bar will be tuned to the debate, thanks to the group Obama Pride, and there will be drink specials all night.
The upstairs of Stetson's is the site of a neighborhood gathering with the debate on multiple TVs. Doors open at 7:30, and there will be drink specials.
Top of the Hill
Generation Obama and Young Lawyers for Obama are taking over the top floor of the Pour House, with the debate on multiple TVs, including a 10-foot screen. Doors open at 7, and a donation of $10 to $20 is suggested.
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