Bar Belle: Tonic

Every weekend I am guaranteed a handful of things. First, I will put off any and all school work until Sunday night around 8 p.m. Second, I will most likely be intoxicated for a large portion of it. Third, I will get off this campus that I am a slave to on the other five days of the week and transplant myself to another part of town. This weekend I was only one out of three – I put off my work until Sunday after 11 p.m. and I spent most of my weekend in Foggy Bottom, but I did pull off being intoxicated most of the nights.

After all the turmoil with delayed openings and the approval of a liquor license, I finally made it to the up and running Tonic, a restaurant and bar located in the old Quigly’s Pharmacy on the corner of 21st and G streets. Being a senior, I watched the whole transformation of the historic building and heard the buzz grow about high hopes for an on-campus bar that would provide students a close hangout once class is over. I was excited and I was thirsty, but most of all I was happy to spend my potential cab fare on a bonus beer.

The inside of Tonic is pretty amazing considering the shape of Quigley’s before the takeover. Exposed brick walls look chic, limited seating encourages party privacy and several large windows offer the best of people watching a college campus can provide. A nook near the entrance hugs an iTunes Jukebox with a pretty loaded variety of music and the menu boasts a mix of American plates, most importantly tater tots. So what if I was there for the beer? Tater tots never hurt anyone.

The upstairs is a bit more formal with white linen table clothes and tables for larger parties while the downstairs is more of a hangout with a bar and smaller tables. There is no question the designers took their time to create a space that was classy and hip without being pretentious. The disconnection, however, that I found with Tonic was the direction the owners went when deciding the atmosphere of this quaint restaurant. True, GW is not your typical college. We lack a real sense of campus, we pay more attention to political debates than football matches and most of us have had internships for major companies since we were sophomores. We are, however, still young adults trying to live out the “best years” of our lives before we succumb to life in a cubicle. We like loud music, cheap beer, dim lighting and the potential to meet new people. Walking into this restaurant, I felt like it was better suited for Northern Virginia or Bethesda, Md; it’s cute and nice, but I wanted dangerous and loud.

Nothing in Tonic suggests that it sits in the middle of a college campus except for some old memorabilia that lines the walls like the sports objects hanging in my hometown Applebees. In fact, I would bet that most of the people walking into the bar were professors or professionals and not GW students. While I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, it just dampened my hopes for a bar that would host Jay Chandrasekhar Beerfest II.

Whether you’d like to spend your evenings in dive bars, fancy lounges or trendy clubs, you should at least check out Tonic and support GW’s newest addition. The service is good enough and the location is key and like I said, there are tater tots.

Bar Belle Rating: Three of Four Belles.

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