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Posted at 12:31 PM ET, 10/ 7/2009

The Brickskeller Has a Birthday, Punch Club Returns and Maddy's Replaces Timberlake's

By Fritz Hahn

There are three new reasons to go bar-hopping this week: the Brickskeller celebrates 53 years in business with (what else?) discounted and rare beers, cocktail fave Punch Club finds a new home at Room 11 (which is also also offering free gin for everyone tonight) and a new bar called Maddy's has replaced Timberlake's in Dupont Circle.

The Brickskeller's Birthday

When Felix and Maurice Coja established the Brickskeller in 1957, they probably didn't imagine it would go on to become a D.C. tourist attraction honored by the Guinness Book of World Records as "the bar with the largest selection of commercially available beers."

The Dupont Circle beer bar is celebrating this month with specials on beers from the upstairs taps, not from the store of 1,000-or-so bottled beers that made it famous. Until the kegs are kicked, you can grab the hoppy Stoudt's American Pale Ale and Dogfish Head's fruity Festina Peche for $3.50 each. (As owner Dave Alexander helpfully points out on the menu, the $3.50 price is "like 53 backwards!") Beers will change throughout October, but the price will stay the same.

Those are great happy hour-style specials, but the real reason for beer lovers to go is the appearance of Red Barn, a funky, slightly spicy and very tasty farmhouse saison beer from San Diego's Lost Abbey brewery. Lost Abbey beers don't make it to D.C. with any regularity, so finding such a great bottle for $19.95 is a treat. (It's a wine-sized 750 ml, perfect for sharing.)

Obligatory "the Brickskeller never has what I order" update: After the getting the drafts and splitting that wonderful bottle of Lost Abbey, my date and I ordered a pair of bottles off the menu. Her Geary's Hampshire Special Ale (an ESB from Maine) arrived right away. I went for something more obscure -- a Russian beer called Yarpivo Elite. (I'd had most of the other Russian beers and was curious about this one.) The bartender told me she wasn't sure if it was in stock. She came back two minutes later and said it wasn't, but she had something else I might like (which actually wasn't on the menu): a strong, sweet, malty and crisp "Extra Lager" called Arsenalnoye.

Punch Club Returns

Earlier this year, cocktail aficionados flocked to the Warehouse Theater's quiet bar for a weekly event called Punch Club, where Dan Searing, a member of the D.C. Craft Bartender's Guild, would create old-fashioned cocktails in large glass bowls and ladle them out for $5 a cup. It had a festive feel, partly from the idea of sharing drinks with the crowd and partly from the underground atmosphere. Searing, who is a partner in the new Room 11 wine bar in Columbia Heights, is resurrecting the night there every Sunday, beginning this weekend. He's whipping up one of my favorites, the Rocky Mountain Punch. When I last had it in January, I found it "an amazingly sweet-and-tart drink with a recipe that calls for five bottles of champagne, a quart of rum, a pint of maraschino liqueur and half a dozen sliced lemons."

If you just can't wait until Sunday, Room 11 is hosting a Tom Collins happy hour tonight from 6 to 8. It's sponsored by Bombay Sapphire, so you can expect free drink samples, giveaways and a lesson in how to create the perfect version of this 19th-century classic, which contains gin, lemon juice, club soda and simple syrup. If you can't make it tonight, the promotion will be repeated Oct. 14.

Welcome to Maddy's Bar and Grille

More than a few tears were shed over the June closing of Timberlake's, the pubby Connecticut Avenue bar that served a diverse crowd of locals for 31 years. The place quietly reopened earlier this week as Maddy's Bar and Grille, and the change is like night and day.

Now, it's a slick-looking space: The new, oversized and very comfortable leather bar stools offer great views of the row of flat-screen TVs over the polished wooden bar. Spacious high-backed booths feel like private meeting rooms. The open wine racks on the walls make it seem classier than your average neighborhood joint.

There are 14 beers on draft, from Bud Light up to Dogfish Head and Fuller's London Pride. (A pint of Fullers will set you back $7.) The restaurant plans to have a late-night food menu served until 1 a.m.

Maddy's is owned by Gaynor Jablonski, one of the owners of Capitol Hill's Ugly Mug, and his longtime friend Dale Shields. It's named for Shields's mother, Madeline Shields, who died of cancer six years ago.

Thursday is supposed to be the big grand opening, but the doors were open last night for anyone to wander in. There's a private event tonight from 6:30 to 9, but the bar will be open to the public after that if you want to check it out.

-- Fritz Hahn

By Fritz Hahn  | October 7, 2009; 12:31 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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Fifty years ago, the Brickskeller was a destination; however, given the number of new beer bars in the area, such as Birreria Paradiso, Rustico and the soon-to-open Churchkey, the Brick seems to have seen better days. Still, I wish them well, but will toast their future success elsewheres.

Posted by: CubsFan | October 7, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

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