Bar Belle: Urbana

2121 P St., N.W.

Graduation looms, which means that it’s crunch time to find a job, a husband, and the youth, beauty and self-respect you’ve wasted away in your time here at George Washington. It’s also time for you to convince your parents that you’ve been doing more than just drinking beer for the past four years – so take them to a wine bar and show ’em you’ve been drinking wine, too!

This past weekend, I did just that. On Friday, my mother graced me with her presence. While I owe my hair color and Mr. Darcy obsession to my mother, my love for beer comes from my dad, who used to brew beer himself, but now stocks his refrigerator with Sierra Nevada and – it’s deep in the genes, somewhere – cans of Miller Light. My mom, though, drinks almost exclusively red wines, and so when she stopped into the district on Saturday, Urbana fit the bill for a nice spot to grab dinner and a drink.

Urbana is your typical wine bar: dark lighting, modern interior, and a haughty attitude. It’s also the perfect place to act like an adult for a couple hours, now that you can drink with your parents without having to scramble to refill their secret liquor bottles with water.

Urbana boasts both a hip lounge and a full restaurant, so you can sit down for a full meal (they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner) or stick to the bar area for drinks and appetizers. The place also boasts some clearly bourgeois sensibilities, which point to why it’s one D.C. bar that’s conspicuously void of the college set. Case in point: when one client called across the bar that he “had a new shot everyone should try,” the bartender replied mildly that “we don’t serve shots at this bar.” The shot, apparently, is simply a trifling amusement to pacify the working class.

What Urbana does serve are Scotch flights (bougie), French Pastis cocktails (bougier), and – you guessed it – wine (bougiest!). The wines ranges from $7 to $13 by the glass. By the bottle, prices range from $32 for a Ravenswood up to $340 for a 2002 Opus One – which, at over 100 times the price of Charles Shaw, better be damn good wine.

In true bougie fashion, Urbana refuses to call its Happy Hour a Happy Hour – at Urbana, it goes by the French and Italian custom of “Apertif.” “Apertif Hour” lasts from 4 to 7, a time the menu insists is “Socially Acceptable” – proving that even those well out of college can find an excuse for drinking before sundown.

During Apertif, Urbana offers a selection of wines for 5 bucks a glass and cuts the price of Pastis drinks in half. The real draw, though, is the cheap food, especially the thin-crust pizzas, which range from 10 to 15 bucks but are only $7 during Apertif, and are larger than you’d expect. I’m sure that at night, the forces of labor behind Urbana go home and revel in the delicious irony of serving a plebian pizza-pie at such a high-class establishment.

To be fair, the staff and the crowd at Urbana is painfully nice, the food and drinks are delicious, and the Apertif Hour is really quite affordable. Still, if I had my way, I’d get all of GW to forgo McFaddens one Tuesday, wriggle their way through Urbana’s urbane clientele, and down 5-buck Pastis after 5-buck Pastis like it’s candy until the lounge turns into a cesspool of STD’s and vomit. So let’s do it, GW. Next Tuesday. Your mother will be so proud.

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