American Ice Company opens tonight
There's a flurry of bar openings as the year winds down. Last week, Clarendon welcomed the Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill. The week before was the grand opening of the Redline sports bar -- sorry, "gastrolounge" -- across from the Verizon Center. And H Street should see two new drinking destinations by the end of the year: Church and State, a serious cocktail space above Fruit Bat (owned by the team behind Wisdom and Fruit Bat), and Smith Commons, promising craft beer and cocktails when it opens near 13th and H streets NE on Tuesday.
Tonight, there's a new place to check out: a block from the 9:30 Club, the American Ice Company could be the new spot to grab a drink before a concert -- or just hang out on a weeknight. And
on Friday early next week, the Blue Banana Sports Bar will open next to the Looking Glass Lounge in Petworth.
Friday Update: The Blue Banana won't be opening on Friday due to delivery problems. Expect a fully stocked bar to open "Monday or Tuesday," according to the general manager.
American Ice Company
917 V St. NW
American Ice Company is a no-frills bar. No covers, no host stand, no dress code: that wouldn't fit with the old-school wooden booths or the weathered industrial decor: rough-hewn plaster, exposed brick walls and pipes hanging overhead. It's just a big, comfortable room for hanging out, perfect for meeting friends before or after a show at the 9:30 club, which is barely a block away. Dimly lit and low-key, it reminds me of U Street Music Hall, which makes sense, since since Eric and Ian Hilton -- the brothers behind that nightspot -- are some of the partners in this venture, too.
Order a draft beer -- the six taps include Goose Island 316, Czechvar and Racer 5 -- and it arrives on the marble counter in either a pint glass or a mason jar, depending on the bartender's whim. Or, order a can from the chalkboard menu behind the bar: your options include a PBR tallboy, a 21st Amendment Back in Black and a pint-sized can of Strongbow cider. There's no cocktail menu, but given that the bartenders' resumes include stints at Bourbon, the Gibson, Saint-Ex and Pharmacy Bar, you should be in good hands. (Patrick Owens, one of my favorite bartenders in town, is in the process of upgrading the bourbon selection, and the man knows his stuff.)
The eats are good, too. At the barbecue counter, cooks prep piles of smoky pork shoulder or turkey, served with cole slaw and bread-and-butter pickles.
The Blue Banana
2632 Georgia Ave. NW
There are big plans for the Blue Banana, a one-room bar just a block from the Georgia Ave.-Petworth Metro station. (It's named after the bar in "Pretty Woman" where the working girls hang out.)
With 10 TVs on its blue walls, the bar will make sports a major focus, and at first, its hours will depend on football: it opens at noon on weekends and 6 on Thursday, Friday and -- if there's football -- on Monday nights. Daily hours start after the new year.
Drink options include a dozen beers on tap for $5 to $7 and at least that many more in bottles. Beer fans, take note: All beers are half-price on Thursday nights.
The seating area in the front window can be turned into a stage, and general manager Jamie Hess says he'll be booking cover bands for weekends -- the kind who play feel-good party music and '80s and '90s hits. It's something you see in Northern Virginia every weekend, but it's not so common in D.C.
The Blue Banana is emphasizing the "neighborhood" in "neighborhood bar," and locals are encouraged to talk to the bartenders about picking up a "Blue Card," a VIP pass that can be flashed for extended happy hour prices and other nightly specials. All you have to do is ask.
Need something else to look forward to? There's a 40-person beer garden coming out back when spring arrives.
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