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Posted at 4:25 PM ET, 01/24/2011

Where to watch the State of the Union address

By Fritz Hahn

Nick Loris, Margaret Taylor and Katie Engdahl at a First Friday happy hour at Union Pub. The Capitol Hill bar expects a politically minded crowd to show up for drink specials during the State of the Union speech. (Ricky Carioti - The Washington Post)

This weekend, bars across the country were filled with people drinking beers and cheering for the Packers and Steelers. On Tuesday night, Washington D.C. bars will be filled with people drinking beers and watching President Obama's State of the Union address.

It sounds weird to anyone outside of D.C. -- and probably to half the people in the city as well -- but gathering to watch the State of the Union on giant TVs is a tradition at Capitol Hill watering holes. If you're looking for drink specials and drinking games, here are our top picks for Tuesday night. Be prepared: The speech starts at 9, but many bars begin to fill up between 8 and 8:30.

Ventnor Sports Cafe
Ventnor isn't known for any political slant, and it's nowhere near the Hill. But every January, the Adams Morgan sports bar turns the State of the Union into a drinking game. Pick a word you expect to hear in the speech, say "Afghanistan" or "trade," and every time the president uses it, you get a $1 shot. "We end up giving away a couple hundred every year," says owner Scott Auslander. "I think it was 400 or 500 last year." This is the fifth time his bar has hosted the event, and he says the words people pick haven't changed much. "No matter who's in office, the issues are the same. It's going to always be health care and jobs and war."

Lounge 201
The comfortably upscale nightspot offers half-price martinis all night on Tuesdays, and that deal will continue during the State of the Union. Large screens in all three rooms will be tuned to the speech. Music will play before and after.

Be one of the first to check out the new incarnation of Bullfeathers, which reopened on Monday after a six-month refurbishment. (Justin had all the news about the new management team and 31 draft beers on the blog last week.) There are four TVs in the expanded bar area, all of which will be showing the speech with sound.

Capitol Lounge
A well-known Hill staffer hangout, the Lounge will show the speech on all its TVs -- with surround sound -- and offer 25-cent wings all night.

Union Pub
With 26 screens, including a 100-inch projection TV on the patio, Union Pub has better sightlines than most Capitol Hill bars. Every TV will be on with sound, and numerous drink specials will run all night, including $12 Bud Light and Union Pub Amber pitchers and $4 Skyy vodka drinks. You can also show your partisan colors with $5 Red or Blue martinis.

Hawk and Dove
Managers here say you'll find a bipartisan crowd -- there are Republican and Democratic groups with reservations already -- and the bar's 16 TVs will show response speeches after the president's address. Bell's Two-Hearted Ale is $3.50 all night.

Busboys and Poets
Last year, in the wake of Obama's election, the flagship Busboys and Poets at 14th and V streets NW held a State of the Union viewing party with a capacity-crowd town hall meeting immediately afterward. This time around, it's not even showing the speech; the bar will feature an open mike poetry night instead. However, two other branches of Busboys and Poets, located in Shirlington and at 5th and K streets NW, are hosting viewing parties that are "free and open to all."

By Fritz Hahn  | January 24, 2011; 4:25 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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Will it be a State of the Union address or a Campaign Speech ??

Posted by: jhnjdy | January 24, 2011 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I can't get you a seat in the gallery for the SOTU, but how about a little contest..

How many times will our Narcissist-in-Chief say the word "I" during the speech?

Send your guess to, and the winner who gets the closest will get a mention on my blog,

Posted by: Unmitigated-Truth | January 24, 2011 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Better yet...How many times will he blame Bush for his problems and failures?

Posted by: jhnjdy | January 24, 2011 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Any ideas for places to watch in Tenleytown, Cleveland Park, that vicinity? Thanks.

Posted by: DOEJN | January 25, 2011 8:00 AM | Report abuse

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