(Originally published 8.11.11 in BizBash Washington)
Sax is decorated with red and gilded lounge furniture throughout its two floors.
These new bars, lounges, and nightclubs in Washington have indoor, outdoor, private, and semiprivate spaces that can accommodate groups small and large for events, meetings, product launches, holiday parties, presentations, and other types of entertaining.
1. Sax brought a bit of French culture to the district with its opening in Penn Quarter in May. The 9,700-square-foot lounge specializes in live music and cabaret performances nightly. The bilevel space features white walls adorned with gilded picture frames, granite columns, and antique chandeliers. A 20-foot stage, the venue’s focal point, is surrounded by dinner-theater-style seating for 150 amid red tufted banquets and chairs. In addition to a sparkling wine bar, liquid nitrogen cocktails and small plates of French-inspired cuisine are available until midnight Sunday through Thursday and 1 a.m. on weekends.
2. Samuel Beckett’s, a 5,000-square-foot authentic Irish pub, opened in Shirlington in January and has 12 beers on tap, including Irish favorite Kilkenny, as well as more than 15 Irish whiskeys. There are three spaces for groups: the main dining area and bar for 119, the mezzanine overlooking the main space with seating for 60, and the back section of the first floor for private parties of 100. Buyouts are also available—the pub can hold 279 for dining or 350 for a reception.
3. The guys behind Eighteenth Street Lounge expanded their nightlife conglomerate in December with the opening of the American Ice Company. The 2,200-square-foot former icehouse is now a no-frills bar specializing in barbecue—minus the waitstaff—and beer in the U Street Corridor. The raw space has a bar lining one wall and intimate wooden booths on the other, with seating for 60 throughout. There’s also a courtyard with picnic-table seating for 40 or room for about 60 standing.
4. Opened last October, Barcode combines happy hour and late-night entertaining in one 5,000-square-foot venue. The bar can host about 500 people throughout its indoor and outdoor space. The main bar is backdropped by 10 TVs and has a 70-inch projection screen and built-in DJ booth. There’s seating for 159 indoors, with an additional 48 seats on the patio, which can host as many as 100 for its weekday happy hours. The venue also has a full menu served until midnight.
5. Shaw’s Tavern debuted in late July in its namesake neighborhood in Washington. The 1,700-square-foot bar features all-brick walls and exposed-beam ceilings. The majority of seating is a mix of bar stools and lounge areas with couches and ottomans, accented by coffee tables reminiscent of 1800s cotton carts and drink tables made from recycled wooden casks. There are also community-style dining tables with seats for 31. The patio can also host 70, or buyouts can be arranged for groups as large as 130.
6. McLean nightclub eCitie has been undergoing renovations in recent months and will celebrate its new digs and rebranding as Iris Lounge in August. With a soft opening in late July, the 15,000-square-foot club debuted its new billiards room and cigar bar. The former has four game tables and can accommodate 100 for receptions. Overlooking the lounge, the Rocky Patel Cigar bar can also accommodate 100 and is outfitted with couches, plasma TVs, and a full bar for members. There is also a semiprivate area for 200, and buyouts are available for groups as large as 500.
7. Known for its picnic-style dining and deep-fried seafood menu, Tackle Box in Georgetown expanded with the opening of its new upstairs bar, Crackle Bar, in January. Directly above the restaurant, the 1,000-square-foot bar is accessed via the downstairs restaurant’s main entrance and features floor-to-ceiling windows along one wall overlooking busy M Street. Echoing the decor of the first floor, Crackle Bar is adorned with nautical elements like lobster traps, buoys, wood paneling, and ocean-blue accent walls. The one-room second floor has a private bar and seating for 33, with 15 stools at the counter along the windowed wall. The space can also accommodate 70 for a reception and has three flat-screen TVs, measuring 38, 42, and 60 inches.
8. Sports bar Lou’s City Bar opened in March in Columbia Heights. Ideal for watching games of all kinds, the bar is equipped with 23 HDTVs and a 140-inch projector screen. The 3,500-square-foot bar can seat 100 inside and 50 on the patio, which has TVs of its own as well. The 45-foot bar has 24 beers on tap and stocks local brew DC Brau.
9. Coming soon to Washington is Puff Lounge and Restaurant, a private cigar lounge in midtown expected to open in November. The 6,000-square-foot club will be able to accommodate as many as 400 guests for private parties or meetings. The venue will have an on-site business center, laptops for use with free Wi-Fi, and a projection screen showing movies on the rooftop.
10. In March, mega-nightclub Fur completed renovations to its patio. The 2,600-square-foot nightclub added a new full-length bar and permanent stage, renovated the DJ booth, and upgraded the sound system. The partially covered area can accommodate as many as 100 people for events and now offers hookah service. An additional 2,200 people can be hosted indoors; the interior boasts 30-foot ceilings, multiple lounge areas, and smoke-free spaces.