The Bar Belle: The Black Rooster

The Black Rooster
1919 L St. N.W.

It was around midnight on my friend’s 22nd (read: unimportant) birthday, and we had already exhausted all the normal birthday activities. We had taken a round of 99 Apples shots (FYI: don’t be enticed by their sweet candy aroma. They taste like lighter fluid). We had watched nearly a half an hour of a movie starring the Rock as a vigilante lawman who destroys a casino – and kills several people – with a single block of wood. We had played a particularly violent game of drinking Spoons that culminated, inexplicably, in a frantic hot-and-cold search for the final teaspoon. We had even gotten through an entire episode of “Yo Momma,” Wilmer Valderrama’s MTV show that has contestants constructing ridiculous jokes about each others’ mothers in an effort to win what Wilmer calls, in his Venezuelan accent that seems only to surface when excited, “cash moh-ney!”

In other words, we were desperate. We had to go to a bar. Any bar.

And The Black Rooster, the pub-style joint in the middle of L Street’s line of after-work drinking spots, was a bar. We walked through the Rooster’s stone arch doorway to find a darkened room accented with stained glass, a long wooden bar, and frosted mirrors engraved with ads for various beers. Two dartboards hang near the entrance; a few sad gaming machines squeeze into the back. Inside, the place looks pretty much like all the other cookie-cutter “traditional” pubs scattered outside of Erin: Irish flair with a Mickey Mouse aftertaste. But we weren’t there for the atmosphere. We sat at one of the empty tables – on a Saturday night, the place held a mere half-dozen other drinkers, all pretty subdued – and set out ordering a birthday drink for my friend.

It turns out that asking a bartender for a round of the stupidest drink he has isn’t the best way to spend your birthday. At the Black Rooster, you’ll get a Cement Mixer: Bailey’s Irish Cream curdled with lime juice, a concoction that feels and tastes going down like vomit does coming up, at a suitably Disney-fied price. Ask for the second-stupidest drink, however, and you’ll get two Woo Woos in little plastic Jell-O shots. For us, they were on the house.

Drinks drunk, we headed to the dartboards, against our better judgment, for target practice and obnoxiously loud conversation. The only real excitement in the place came when an older man perched on the edge of the bar, sick of the amateur hour, jumped in the middle of our sloppy game. “I own this board,” he announced, as he hit three near-bulls-eyes in a row. “These are all my trophies,” he then claimed to my friend, gesturing to a shelf full of them. (It turns out that upon closer inspection, they were not.)

Maybe if the Black Rooster had more quirks like that, I’d be inclined to spend more time there. As is, the place is pretty standard, and the price – free Woo Woos aside – leaves something to be desired. So if you’re looking for a place to spend a quiet drink with friends, or are pushing 50, the Black Rooster might be a good bet. As for my friends and I, I have a feeling that when we left, drunk and yelling, the owners of the bar – and the board – were happy to see us go. Twenty-two, it seems, isn’t that old after all. So why spend, as Wilmer would say, the “cash moh-ney” when you have all the spoons, The Rock and 99 Apples you want back in the comfort of your own home?

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