Bar Belle: Tattoo

On my 21st birthday I made a promise to myself that I was going to get a tattoo – a little reminder of the day I could have my first drink (wink). Well, my birthday was back in May and I still have nothing to show for the historical day. I like to blame my avoidance of the commitment on a lack of funds but really I just don’t want to picture what a dandelion on my neck would look like at 70. This past weekend brought back memories of my broken promise when I took a visit to Tattoo, a new bar that stands on 14th and K streets, off of McPherson Square.

I was a little skeptical of the venue at first because the same people that own Lotus and Fur – two nightclubs that I have no desire to visit – started it up. (A short Irish girl with no rhythm doesn’t tend to look kindly upon places that encourage dancing.) I decided to give this tattoo a better chance when I overheard some co-workers raving about the decorations and music. And although you’re not supposed to get inked while intoxicated, this bar seemed to encourage just the opposite, which made the trip that much more appealing.

The inside looked like the afterbirth of a fancy club and a dive bar. That may seem harsh but I mean it in a good way. Everything is dark and sexy, and while there were some people dancing along to Black Betty, they seemed to level my coordination skills, which made me way more comfortable. The inside is every biker/biker wannabe’s dream with smoky lights, industrial-looking furniture, tattooed hotties plastered on the wall and even a motorcycle hanging above the bar. There are several televisions lined around the venue that entertain guests with rock and roll music videos and clips of music history that people there love to relive. As a music junkie, I was enthralled with the speaker system that beckoned everyone to sing along with the playlist. I’m guilty myself of screaming to the likes of “Sweet Caroline” and “Back in Black” at other college-geared bars, but the tunes at Tattoo brought far more mash-ups to the table.

For every up there is a down, however, and Tattoo also had its downs. The bar is situated in a really small building so it can get very crowded very fast. I know that’s a common theme with D.C. bars, but I would go as far as to say it was about the size of a hallway. Service was fast and the staff was dressed, well, as you would expect them to dress in a biker bar – but the drinks were severely overpriced. Sure, a drink menu including the likes of “The Tattoo” (Captain Morgan, peach schnapps, pineapple juice and RedBull), “The Grateful Dead” (Vodka, rum, gin, triple sec, razzmatazz and sours), “Backstage Pass” (Vodka, rum, gin, grenadine and beer) and “Tramp Stamp” (Captain Morgan, rum and amaretto) is clever, but $10 average per drink is a little ridiculous.

I feel the same way about this bar as I did with my imaginary tattoo. It sounds fun, looks dangerous and gives people something to talk about, but in the end it can get old and less enticing. It’s great to see the creative energies veering off in another direction with Tattoo, but I’m afraid the hype will lead to its eventual demise.

Bar Belle Rating: two and a half belles out of four.

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