The Bar Belle

Helix Lounge
1430 Rhode Island Ave.

Even you seasoned carousers, prepare to be shocked by the following information: Adam’s Morgan, Georgetown and McFadden’s are not the only places to get drunk and pretend to have a social life in D.C.

Fine, go to Faddies on Tuesday and Tom Tom’s on Thursday, but use at least one of your weekend nights to go somewhere new. It eliminates many of the complaints about the D.C. bar scene: “God, I run into (insert ex-boyfriend, arch-enemy, stalker or anyone else who encroaches on your merriment) everywhere!” “I’m so sick of talking to all these people I knew from Thurston/HOVA/Mitchell.” Or, “I can’t wear this shirt, I wore it last month and everyone will recognize it.” I made the first stance on Saturday night when I refused to be a lemming and coerced my friends to go to the Helix Lounge in Logan Circle.

As a veteran of the Kimpton Group properties (i.e. Topaz Hotel, Firefly and Hotel Rouge) I knew a few things about the group’s Helix Lounge before stepping a stilettoed foot in the door. It was going to have fabulous d?cor and digestible food, and be expensive. But like every dipsomaniac on a college budget I have mastered the art of the pregame and made sure I had a good bottle of wine pulsating through my veins before heading off.

The cab dropped us off in front of the Helix Hotel, where, obviously, the Helix Lounge was located. While I was pleased to be entering an unknown realm, I was a bit apprehensive because there seemed to be no other night life offerings in the area to seek refuge if the bar sucked. Nevertheless, I forged on through the lobby towards the Bowie remix emanating from the bar. The interior was quite posh compared to the cave-like interior of the bars I usually frequent. Austere accents such as white-leather cubes and chrome were juxtaposed with colorful round seating and flowing curtains. The lighting periodically changed colors creating a different ambience every half hour or so.

Although the setting was impressive, the space was cramped and the crowd unappealing, (think a loud group of spandex-clad birthday celebrators, some tragically unstylish baby boomers probably staying in the hotel, and a random spattering of diverse urbanites in close talking clusters).

A friendly bartender who barely glanced at our ID’s handed us our drinks and a not-so-friendly bill. The wine was $10 (the cheapest on the menu) and the vodka mixed drinks made with Stoli, the only “top-shelf” offering, were $9. Also, there were no draft beers and the bottled options, like Stella Artois, were priced around $6.

Later, as our group expanded we moved from the large volcano-shaped seating to a curtained-off alcove where one of my friends fittingly said, “The drunker I’m getting the better this place is.” I agreed. The increasing alcohol intake, which makes everything better in general, but also the new atmosphere with old friends made for an overall good time (hug now and begin to tear).

Bar Belle Rating: 4/5

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