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Dueling Piano Bar Howl at the Moon Goes Live in D.C. With Neon Booze Buckets

The novelty sing-along chain has 15 locations in the U.S. and one at sea

Howl at the Moon slings cocktails by the bucket.
Howl at the Moon

A spring 2020 opening wasn’t exactly in the cards for a massive new nightclub. Nationwide entertainment chain Howl at the Moon originally planned to debut in D.C. that April, but the universe had other plans.

Now, over two years later, the neon beverage-infused, high-energy live music venue with room for 450 revelers has finally arrived. Appropriately situated on Penn Quarter’s tourist-heavy strip, the 6,000-square-foot party pad opened on Saturday, November 19 (900 7th Street NW). The headlining menu item — glowing buckets of booze that double as take-home souvenirs — hope to make the raucous addition near Capital One Arena a draw for out-of-towners, college students, and bachelorette parties.

Howl at the Moon slides into D.C.’s old Ping Pong Dim Sum space.
Howl at the Moon

With bars in 15 U.S. cities (the closest is Philly) and an at-sea program with Norwegian Cruise Lines, Howl at the Moon is known for its dueling piano show, where two pianists take turns fielding song requests from the crowd. There are often guitars and drums, too.

“You can go from playing Bruce Springsteen to Doja Cat with the drop of a dime, and they just do it so smoothly,” D.C. sales and events manager Kara Lally tells Eater.

The clubs also invite live cover bands to play a variety of upbeat party anthems. Roving “Howl2Go” tribute shows (think: Billy Joel and Elton John impersonators) also makes appearances from coast to coast.

Howl at the Moon also pushes private and semi-private event bookings for bachelor(ette), corporate, and birthday crowds.
Howl at the Moon

Technicolor, oversized boozy beverages are the main menu attraction at Howl locations. Highlighter-hued “Party Drinks” like rum-fueled Hurricanes come in 12-ounce glasses (and also 32- and 86-ounce buckets for $24 and $36, respectively).

The “Sex on the Moon,” touted as its “most popular” bucket, is made with tropical punch vodka, peach schnapps, pineapple and orange juices, and grenadine. “Hot Girl Summer” mixes up lemon and coconut rums with watermelon and coconut and berry Red Bull.

Howl at the Moon isn’t a restaurant, nor does it claim to be. Instead, the venue hopes to fill a nightlife void in a neighborhood that’s already packed with prime dining options.

“Where we’re located specifically, there aren’t really a lot of clubs around us,” says Lally.

Howl at the Moon’s opening was delayed twice due to permit and inspection delays from the city.
Howl at the Moon
The bar is already promoting its 2023 New Year’s Eve party.
Howl at the Moon

She claims this location has more of an “upscale” and “professional” atmosphere than some of the other Howl at the Moons in order to better appeal to D.C. residents. While food isn’t a focus at Howl at the Moon locations, Lally says Howl D.C. will eventually serve some sort of bar snacks. For now, events will be catered by an outside vendor.

Shots ($10) include sugary concoctions like the Howl bartender-created “Strawberry Shortcake” (whipped cream vodka, strawberry puree, whipped cream), “Morning Skrew” (peanut butter whisky, apple liqueur, orange juice), and “Cinnamon Toast” (rumchata liqueur, Fireball). An Instagram logo next to certain drinks on the menu denote which are allegedly the most photo worthy (a tropical “Trash Can” built with blue Curacao is one).

If its set list of sweet cocktails ($13) aren’t your jam, patrons can also request pretty much any mixed drink under the sun.

“You want that specialty cocktail, we have it for you. We have all of the ingredients for basically everything that anybody could ask for,” she says.

Sunday to Tuesday nights are available for buyouts, and the public is welcome the rest of the week — with a $10 cover charge — from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

The bar also offers canned seltzers and cocktails and a wine list tailored towards the ultimate non-connoisseur (it’s all Barefoot and Sutter Home). Beers ($7-$8) do show some love for locals like Atlas and Dogfish Head.

There’s also drinks, shots, and buckets themed around holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve, plus free happy hour giveaways. Its first big party is scheduled for Friday, November 25, with Black Friday specials like $3 Miller Lites, $5 cinnamon apple shots, and Honeycrisp harvest buckets.