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The Quick Approach: Several Bars with Stellar Shooters

Bar Charley
Bar Charley
Photo: R. Lopez

Cocktails often are meant to be sipped slowly, savoring every nuance, mixer, liquor and garnish. The bartender takes great care to mix it just right, and the product is likely strong enough to merit a less-than-rushed approach.

Other times, though, what's in order is quicker and consumed in one gulp. A shot can be artfully crafted or a quick nip of courage. Here are a handful of D.C. bars with specials on shots or shots that are in some way special — for when a martini or margarita just takes too long.

Millie and Al's just celebrated its 50th birthday this spring. Adams Morgan's oldest bar has become beloved for many things over that time — the decor of a dark wood and red booths, its ever-present and, not least of all, its Jell-o shots. But it's not just that the dive bar serves these colorful shots. It's that they become available for $1 when the flashing light bulb goes on and the pirate figurine starts dancing around.

Bar Charley, a recent addition to 18th Street, opened with a hodge podge of a menu based on the owner's frequently craved foods. And its bar opened with a unique spin on a pickleback shot. Bar Charley takes a Jell-o shot and a pickleback and marries into pickle-brine Jello-o and whiskey.

Arlington's "female-friendly" sports bar — and the brainchild of "The Bachelorette" alum Chris Bukowski Bracket Room has one of the larger shot selections around to complement its elevated takes on bar food. The Clarendon establishment boasts a whopping 64 featured shooters available to game watchers. Earlier in the year, at the height of March Madness, Bracket Room let its shots go head to head bracket-style in a competition on the bar's Facebook page. The Gummy Bear shot won out and is being offered until next March Madness.

Along Bladensburg Road, Jimmy Valentine's Lonely Hearts Club serves up nearly 50 beers and a steady slew of musical acts and DJs. Patrons of the den of red also rave about its 100 Proof espresso shots that allow for them to keep energy up while imbibing.

Late night at Fado Irish Pub, the drink specials are aplenty — especially on shots. For $5, customers can have their pick of a pickleback shot or cherry bomb - a concoction including Red Bull and vodka.

Shots that pair with oysters are a growing find around the District. Old Ebbitt Grill gives drinkers a choice of any oyster with Absolut Peppar, horseradish and cocktail sauce. Hank's Oyster Bar and Lounge adds a Japanese influence to its seafood with sake oyster shooters for just $3 apiece. Teddy and the Bully Bar, devoted to all things around the United States' 26th president, offers a Bull Moose Oyster Shooter — local oyster, Illegal Mezcal and Old Bay Red Sangrita. Teddy's menu also plays on the "beer and shot" notion with a Square Deal Shot & Beer (a PBR and Milagro Silver shot with a green sangrita backer).

And a few locales are unique in how they serve their shots. Shaw neighborhood joint A&D Bar is a fan of Mason jars for all of its beverages and that includes tiny Mason jars for its shots — which can be purchased as part of a $10 shot and beer special. Dan's Cafe might take the creative cake with mixed shots doled out to customers in ketchup tops. It's appropriate for a charmingly un-chic bar that lets patrons blend cocktails while dancing to a jike box.
—Dena Levitz