Recently, it’s been colder than the stare I give people who want to explain how the media failed America and gave us Trump. Newsflash, the media did a metric fuckton of great reporting on Trump, and none of y’all clicked on it, because cat videos. Anyway, because of the miserable weather, the fact that such people exist, and the fact that — whoever’s fucking fault it is — Trump is busy performing America’s last rites, it’s a great time to drink away the pain next to fire. Especially because, in four years, you’ll probably be drinking pruno around a sawed-in-half oil drum full of burning garbage in a reeducation camp. Here are a few good places to huddle up and huck a few back.
Number one on my list of fireplaces with alcohol service is Hotel Sorrento's Fireside Room. If it wasn’t obvious from the name, it’s a room — a rather lavishly appointed one — in which you can drink next to a fireplace. It’s also home to Christopher Frizzelle’s excellent, head-clearing Silent Reading Party on the first Wednesday of every month. The decor is evocative of the type of elegant study that most of us can’t afford, which is great because it affords us plebs the chance to drink like someone who can, thanks to the magic of happy hour. In addition to an always good rotating cocktail and affordable (for the Sorrento) glass pours, they’ve got these mini appetizer towers that make one feel like they’re picking through a six-tier seafood affair at some fancy downtown Chicago French joint. Instead of $160 and your firstborn, though, it’s a mere $24 for three layers. For maximum aspirational escapism, grab a vesper, get a tower of calamari and fancy cheese/charcuterie, and settle in with a leather-bound book on 19th century naval battles. Just don’t forget to properly adjust your monocle.
Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails
I used to think obnoxiously named Frolik, the game-themed bar atop the also obnoxiously named Motif Hotel, was obnoxious. Then I went and ate fried goat cheese and drank cheap happy hour beer at their 20-foot long-fire table and realized I was being a snob unnecessarily. That’s right, they have a 20-foot-long high top with a gas fire strip thingy running down the center of it. Indeed, the whole place looks like a goofy, Star Trek-esque vision of the chic, sexy future we all hope to have—but that’s a future I would really like to imagine myself in these days. Instead of huddling around the oil drum fire, we’ll all be drinking Manny’s straight from the replicator and laughing about how Donald Trump almost destroyed modern society until Jean-Luc Picard flew back through a rift in the space time continuum and corrected the course of history.
I almost don’t want to further blow up my neighborhood watering hole, but no article about bone-warming fireplaces would be complete without Loretta’s. Unlike pretty much every other bar that offers fire, it is an actual wood fire, and Loretta’s actually allows patrons to build said fire. Wood is stacked high next to the old stove out back, and on cold winter nights, the neighborhood cigarette enthusiasts can be found arranged in a semicircle around a roaring blaze. If you don’t mind a little secondhand smoke, grab a boilermaker, sidle up, and share the all-natural warmth. If you do, well, you’re probably at the wrong bar.
Full disclosure, I have not been to the Arctic Club Hotel’s Polar Bar. But Jenn Campbell, who is the boss of this column and a great appreciator of bars herself, says that the Polar Bar has a great fire and a great, weird scene. “Or rather,” she amends, “it has no scene, which is weird.” My friend Zach, independently of Campbell, also urged me to include the Polar Bar, so go to the goddamn Polar Bar. If you need any further cajoling, Campbell reports that “their napkins are emblazoned with a drunk polar bear slouched on the ground, clasping at a martini.” You could be that bear!
The College Inn Pub is superlatively cozy. That's all.
Marco Polo, which sits on the forlorn section of Fourth Ave S that leads into Georgetown, is another one of those industrial district bars you might easily skip over on a cold, rainy night. That would be a bad call, because they have some of the best fried chicken in existence, as well as a big round table with a gas fire in the center. Nothing like mac salad, expertly breaded drumsticks, and a soothing fire to fight the chill. The fire table is popular with big groups, obviously because it is warm and awesome, but also because you can all face each other and converse in a way that square tables do not always allow for. Perfect for, say, organizing your Cascadian secession movement.
If you’re queer, Donald Trump’s America probably already feels like a hostile environment to you. So it’s probably already time to huddle together around the fire table on the Pony’s enclosed patio because, if there’s any place in America that will serve as a last holdout of queerness in the face of bigotry, it’s the Pony. They serve Colt 45, which makes it very easy to get so drunk you stop, for a precious few hours, caring about the fact that an unhinged bigot — one whose supporters would love nothing more than to queer folks stripped of their basic human rights — is headed for the White House. Also, they have a great photo booth, so you can bring memories of all your friends with you to the “Pray the Gay Away” camps Rick Santorum will surely set up when Trump appoints him secretary of the brand new Department of Christmas Defense.
Saint John’s does not technically have a fireplace, but they do have an absolutely fantastic chicken thigh sandwich, cheap drinks, and a big screen TV that is frequently showing the wonderful, hour-long “Lil BUB's Magical Yule LOG Video.” For those who do not already know and love Lil BUB, he is a cat whose tongue constantly hangs out. For some reason, this is incredibly cute. In this video, he spends an hour chilling and napping in front of a crackling fire, giving diners both the visual and auditory illusion of a fireplace and the extreme cuteness of a cat with a defective tongue. For the record, this — not your news feed — is the proper place for an ultra-precious cat video.