Velvet Lounge 915 U St., NW, 202-462-3213, velvetloungedc.com. A tiny outpost in the burgeoning U Street corridor, Velvet Lounge's red drapes and warm lighting make you feel welcome as soon as you walk up to the door. As a self-respecting lounge, it bears the requisite neon martini glass on its sign, and that's supported by well-made martinis from the bar. Once inside, you can proceed to the downstairs area, which, while diminutive, provides a cozy setting to enjoy those martinis or other expertly made cocktails. Live music is the claim to fame here, with up-and-coming bands ranging from alternative rock to experimental acts (past players have included Gene Loves Jezebel, Earlimart, and We Are Scientists, among others).
Wonderland Ballroom 1111 Kenyon St., NW, 202-232-5263 the won derlandballroom.com. The dark, shabby-chic setting at Wonderland isn't a manufactured
conceit—it's just designed for comfort. This is a low-key bar, after all, a neighborhood place where you should be able to sit and enjoy an evening with friends. So, what does that entail? Well, good music for a start: Sunday nights feature live acts, and the best-in-class jukebox includes drinking soundtracks from Buena Vista Social Club and Johnny Cash to Outkast. A good happy hour is necessary, of course, so Wonderland takes $2 off their impressive list of world-class beers, which you can put toward a $2 chili dog if you're so inclined. And a neighborhood hangout should feel a little like home, so the free Wi-Fi and a Ms. Pac Man machine don't hurt. Of course, in providing this type of environment to its Columbia Heights neighbors, the Wonderland now attracts swarms from all over the city—the inevitable curse of doing things right.
Madam's Organ 2461 18th St., NW, 202-667-5370, madamsorgan.com. Upon seeing the mural of an amply endowed woman on the side of this D.C. institution, you may not be quite sure what you're getting into. She looks weather-beaten and wily, as if she's been around the block a few times. Which, in fact, makes her the ultimate introduction to Madam's Organ. This is a wood-and-neon, blues-and-soul, soul-food-and-sour-mash kind of place, the standard-bearer for the Adams Morgan neighborhood. Inside it's decorated with mounted animal heads, wagon wheels, and local art, and the sign out front says "Sorry, We're Open." Live music plays seven nights a week, and spans genres from alternative rock to zydeco (with an emphasis on blues). The bar's motto, "Where the Beautiful People Go to Get Ugly," may seem funny at first, but it's oddly appropriate after a long night here.
Double Down Saloon : http://www.doubledownsaloon.com/
Ivan Kane's Forty Deuce : http://www.fortydeuce.com/
Saint's & Sinners : http://www.saintsandsinnerslounge.net/
Clermont Lounge : http://www.clermontlounge.net/
Northside Tavern : http://www.northsidetavern.com/
Star Community Bar : http://www.starbaratlanta.com/
Hemlock Tavern : http://www.hemlocktavern.com/
Creekside Lounge : http://www.thecreeksidelounge.com/
Basement Pub : http://www.basementpub.com/
Velvet Lounge : http://www.velvetloungedc.com/
Wonderland Ballroom : http://www.wonderlandballroom.com/
Madam's Organ : http://www.madamsorgan.com/
Cc Club : http://www.ccclubmpls.com/
Memory Lanes : http://www.memorylanesmpls.com/
Half Time Rec : http://www.halftimerec.com/
Pawn Shop Lounge : http://www.thepawnshoplounge.com/
Duff's Brooklyn : http://www.duffsbrooklyn.com/
Magnetic Field 97 : http://www.magneticbrooklyn.com/