About Tonic….

by Kate Steadman

I just want to note Ezra’s misuse of “the IFA” below in his endorsement of Tonic. I do NOT endorse until I see this “reworking”. I reserve special dislike for Tonic due to the following reasons:

Slow. slow. sloooooow. (-10)
Mediocre food. (-5)
So.much.attitude. from the servers (-5)
Uncomfortable seating. (-1)

Tater Tots!!!! (+8 )

Did they get rid of the tots now? It might not even be worth visiting for a follow up.

Also, in response to verplanck colvin’s question about what counts as good beer selection in DC: it depends?  I don’t know of anywhere that has cask beer. Does anyone else? I count good beer selection as at least 7 on tap that are not exclusively Belgian (hmm..it appears I’m easy to please.)

That being said, one thing I really dislike about DC is the lack of a local brew universally on tap.  You can usually find Yuengling, but: it’s not really local (from PA), not very cheap (usually about $6), and not that good.  I’m totally spoiled by Kansas City, home to the extremely excellent Boulevard Brewing Co.   Their Wheat and Pale Ale are on tap at most every bar for about $3.50.

But I can’t find it in DC.  Still broken up over that…


24 responses to “About Tonic….

  1. Kate – I agree there isn’t a universal local brew here in DC, but there are some great local breweries. I particularly like Clipper City (http://www.ccbeer.com/) in Baltimore – the Loose Cannon is on tap at Bar Pilar – and Old Dominion (http://www.olddominion.com/) – whose beers are admitedly a bit harder to find. And then of course there’s Natty Boh, though it’s no longer actually brewed in Baltimore…..

  2. If you want attitude from servers in MtP, go to Dos Gringos. Tonic looks heavenly in comparison. I’ve never really had a problem there.

    Where do you go that sells a pint of Yuengling for $6? That might be the first sign that you shouldn’t be there. Being a PA guy, I’m tickled pink at having Yuengling on tap in DC.

    How do you have a conversation about beer in DC without bringing up Brickskeller and RFD? I’m pretty sure they both have cask ales. Apart from that, it can get pretty tough to find a good selection. I will say that a lot of bars and restaurants do a pretty good job in their selection of the limited beers they do have on tap (e.g., you can get Brooklyn or Allagash at Red Rocks).

  3. I also don’t know where Kate is purchasing $6 pints of Yuengling. Possibly at McFadden’s? Hard to say. Also, Tonic retains the tots, but now with FANCIER DIPPING SACUES.

  4. Ok, there’s tons of places Yuengling is $6. I can’t believe you just accused me of drinking at McFaddens!

    And I mean, yeah brickskeller and RFD have lots of beer. BUT they don’t have Boulevard and they have miserable atmospheres. I especially despise drinking at RFD. I love my beer as much as the next guy but will gladly suffer a lesser selection for the sake of a good vibe. (Not to get too groovy on y’all)

  5. You guys should all come up for Philly Beer Week in March.

  6. Commonwealth in Columbia Heights has two casks, and an interesting selection of UK beers on draught.

    The Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown has one cask, and an interesting selection of mostly domestic craft beers on draft.

    Beck has a great selection of Belgians.

    The Brickskeller is a shadow of its former self.

  7. Ditto on Brickskeller being terrible. The epic list is a lie: every time I’ve gone in the last few eyars I’ve had to settle for my third choice brew at best. And, as has been noted, the atmosphere is atrocious.

    I shall also throw in an eyebrow raise w/respect to $6 yuengling. Until Kate provides further evidence for her claim that this is a widespread state of affairs, I will continue to assume that she prefers to do her drinking in atrociously fratty faux-irish college bars.

  8. I agree on Brickskeller being disappointing; but the sad fact is that it’s the de facto place to go for a good beer selection in DC.

  9. Keep an eye out for Birch and Barley and ChurchKey, run by the same people who made Rustico a fantastic beer restaurant in Alexandria. They plan to have more than 500 beers with 5 casks in service. And unlike that other bar, my guess is they’ll do a good job keeping their stocks up.

  10. I know of only one offender in the Yuengling price range that Kate mentions: Creme. Charging that much for a Yuengling is inexcusable.

    RFD is pretty good for beer, but yeah, the atmosphere could use improvement. I second what everyone’s said about the BrickSkeller.

    I’m surprised to hear anyone say that Commonwealth has a decent beer selection. By most accounts their efforts at putting together a list of UK beers is laughably mainstream. Perhaps the situation’s improved since I last checked.

    Wonderland reliably has an interesting (if not often-changed) selection of beers on tap. Temperance Hall (now Looking Glass Lounge — god, what a lousy name) is alright on this score, too. Matchbox is making an effort, and District Chophouse brews its own (small) selection of really delicious beers (far better than Cap City’s offerings, if you ask me).

    I donno. Honestly, craft beer is springing up everywhere; it’s increasingly unusual to find a place that serves food and doesn’t have at least one excellent beer on draft.

    The question of why we don’t have a signature local beer is a better one, I think, and one that I don’t really have an answer for. Old Dominion sort of counts, I guess, but places itself in an unfortunate position where it’s both not that cheap and not that good.

  11. Ditto on Old Dominion.

    I think the lack of a good local beer is both indicative and derivative of how very weird this town is.

  12. Dogfishhead has a brewpub in Gaithersburg… does that count as local?

    The cool thing about Commonwealth is the cask. You are right about their relatively pedestrian UK beer selection. I think they have 12 or 14 taps, and maybe 2 that are not Newcastle/Smithwicks/cheap domestics/cider.

  13. Two Amy’s has very good beer. All interesting choices. The Winter Solstice they’ve got on tap right now is the best beer I’ve had in some time. Red Rocks also has a good beer or two, but not a wide selection. Wonderland is good. Brickskeller is a fraud.

  14. Midwest Product

    I count good beer selection as at least 7 on tap that are not exclusively Belgian…

    I tend to be leery of places that keep too many beers on the rail. Seven is fine, of course, but if a bar gets into double digits I really start to wonder just how frequently those kegs get changed, and how often the lines are cleaned.

    I was also going to say that it seems these days everybody (or at least everybody in a major city) has access to great local beer these days, but then it occurred to me that I can’t actually think of a reputable DC-area microbrewery along the lines of what Boulevard represents for KC (or what Summit is for Minneapolis, etc). Is there one, and I’ve just overlooked it?

  15. BenjaminSimon

    The Saloon!

    They can be a bit brikskeller-ish with bottles, but they’ve a real solid and diverse selection of drafts, and the vibe is just awesome to chill and chat w/ friends.

    Also, absolutely amazing fries.

  16. BenjaminSimon

    As a clarification, I mean The Saloon at 12th and U, not whatever is in Georgetown.

  17. yeah but the beer is good at Saloon, but also pricey and they have so many rules! I mean, no standing! What’s that about? I really dislike places that have annoying phrases about how annoying customers are all over their menus.

  18. Great, now I’m craving a Boulevard Wheat.

  19. I second Midwest Products skepticism over places with a lot of taps. However, those tend to be places that do have good beer. I almost always go for a rotating tap if one is available.

  20. different alex

    Saloon is TERRIBLE. Their rules are incredibly obnoxious, they just have shitty imports. If you were on U street you’d be better off just going across the street to Solly’s where you can get two-hearted, or Axis which always has 3 taps of Stone.

    Also nobody mentioned Big Hunt just south of Dupont Circle on Connecticut, which has a great selection of American draft beers (it was the first place in DC I saw Racer 5).

    There’s also Dr. Granville Moore’s in H street for Belgians. Bourbon in Adam’s Morgan has a good selection of bottles.

  21. With our beer dispense equipment any one can dispense and serve both Cask or Real Ale and or Keg Beer.Many licensees are discouraged from offering cask beer since they are afraid they will not be able to keep it but with modern automatic stillages and the amazing Race Cask Ventilator which doubles the shelf life of a cask the all pubs and hotels should be able to serve good cask Ale.

  22. Second on Granville Moore’s. Excellent selection of nice Belgians and good food to boot. The beer is a little pricey, however. IIRC correctly you can still get a Maredsous 8 for $5 or $6 at Big Hunt (vs. $8 at Moore’s.) Big Hunt is a solid choice.

  23. The Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick is awesome. $5 for a pint glass and tons of samples every Saturday afternoon. And they have at least one cask ale as of last weekend, and it is amazing.

  24. Quarry House in Silver Spring has a great selection- long beer list and unlike Brickskeller everything is usually in stock.

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