Winter is just around the corner — and you know what that means: the Soccer World Cup?
Yes, as sleigh bells ring and children listen, a motley crew of twenty- and thirtysomething millionaires will be kicking balls around in hastily constructed stadiums in the desert. The tournament is in Qatar for the first time — not known as a great footballing nation (their men’s team has never qualified on merit), but the head of their FA was deputy head of FIFA during Sepp Blatter’s appallingly corrupt tenure, so that’s got to be a good enough reason to host it there. In the middle of the regular season. In new arenas that thousands of migrant workers died building.
Anyway, Cockburn loves an excuse for a pre-breakfast pint, and the time zone difference means that some of the tournament’s matches kick off at 5 and 8 a.m. Your intrepid reporter has been asking around his favorite DC watering holes to try and find the best spots to take in the matches. Many are opening early (though not at 5, he’s sad to report). I believe that we will win!
A little east of Columbia Heights, you can find the Midlands Beer Garden, which will be open for all 8 a.m. games, seven days a week. Specials include $1 Paulaner specials, nitro cold brews, hot coffees, warm cocktails and more. “We will be playing all the games both inside and outside with sound. Outside we will have heaters and fire pits,” co-owner Robin said to Cockburn. “No reservations — all seating will be open seating. We are welcoming to fans of every nation!”
Cockburn had a tremendous time watching England not win the Euros at this Shaw dive bar. It’s usually the hub for fans of Midwest sports teams — Michigan college football games are boisterous here. Cheap draft Pabst Blue Ribbon and Heilemann’s Old Style are always available (seasoned professionals know to add a packet of crystalized lime for flavor’s sake). Ivy won’t be open for 5 or 8 a.m. but will be open for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. games. “We recently added nitro cold brew to the menu,” the owner told Cockburn. “We anticipate US games being the biggest draw but all comers are equally welcome!”
A narrow railroad-style bar on H Street Corridor, with a number of imported British ales on tap (think Boddington’s, Old Speckled Hen, Bombardier) for a princely sum. “We plan on being open for all US, England and Wales matches during the first round (excluding the 5 a.m. Wales-Iran match on November 25,” the owner said to Cockburn. “As our teams progress, we will be keeping everyone updated on plans for our early openings.” Guarantee entry for England-USA on Black Friday for $5 here.
Just down the road from the Queen Vic is Dirty Water — a significantly cheaper option for beer with very amicable staff. This Boston-centric bar will be offering $30 mix & match megabuckets of eight for Bud Light, Bud Heavy and Mich Ultra, and $30 mix & match buckets of five for Cisco, Harpoon and Downeast cider, as well as $5 Espresso Martini Jell-O shots (it is the morning after all). “We plan to open for all 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. games and selected 8 a.m. games,” the owner told Cockburn. Dirty Water is also running a World Cup confidence pool, with a prize of an open bar tab for winners, which you can check out on their Instagram.
Another H Street bar, Biergarten Haus offers perhaps the most exhaustive opening hours. “We will be open for all 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. games throughout the group knockout stages. That includes Thanksgiving Day,” general manager Brick said.
“During the 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. games, we will be offering a limited menu of breakfast/brunch, such as breakfast burritos, sausage platters, etc. We will also be offering brunch beverage options, such as coffee (regular or Irish), Bloody Marys, Mimosas, etc. during the early games (full beer and beverage menu is still available). As usual, boozy hot cider and glühwein (mulled wine) will be available all day. All are welcome! We have a very diverse turnout of fans from all nations, since we have several indoor and outdoor areas and over twenty-five TVs throughout the establishment.
“All games will be broadcast with sound, of course. We’ll have the roof deck open with firepits, weather permitting, as well. On days where two matches are being played simultaneously, we’ll have two separate/bars sections broadcasting each match with sound. We have free WiFi available for our work-from-home friends. Dogs are permitted outside on the patio during weekday matches only. However, please be mindful that it may be very loud and busy. We reserve the right to rescind this policy prior to and during busier matches — we don’t want any of your furry friends’ tails to be stepped on. And please be a responsible owner — we reserve the right to deny service due to any disruptive or aggressive behavior.
“Reservations are available for groups of eight or more. Smaller parties are first-come, first-serve seating. Please email email@example.com for reservation accommodations.”
Cockburn’s favorite Irish watering hole opens at 7 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on weekends. It’s the perfect spot for you if you love pints of Magners cider and Guinness and don’t want England to win. A good place to cheer on Iran on Monday (the soccer team, of course, not the regime).
Another Irish bar up on U Street, with friendly actual Irish staff. Will be opening early (7:30 a.m.) for the England-Iran match on Monday and selected other early games. Exiles will be open for the majority of the 11 a.m. games and all the 2 p.m. games. Current drinks specials include Kona Beach Bum (half Mango Cart, half Big Wave) on draft for $8. “We are welcoming to all teams, we’re obviously expecting a big US crowd,” manager Karl said. There will be a number of watch parties to be announced on their social media and they have sponsorship details in place with Budweiser, Guinness and Heineken.
Italy, one of the best international sides of all time, managed to lose to North Macedonia in a playoff and not qualify for Qatar. Still, that’s not a good enough reason to steer clear of Mario’s in Glover Park, which opens at 11 a.m. and will have Budweiser, Bud Light and Stella specials during all USMNT games and “select specials for all 2 p.m. games. “We have Guinness sponsoring the USA-England game on Friday November 25,” owner Michael tells Cockburn
An option for the sensible folk who reside in the free state of Virginia. O’Sullivan’s is right by the Clarendon Metro and will be opening for some of the early games. “Monday for England vs Iran 8 a.m., doors will open at 7.30am,” GM Des tells Cockburn. “We will be serving a Breakfast Menu from opening till 12pm. We will open for Germany vs Japan on Wednesday too. As a general rule, we will open each day at 9:30 a.m. which will cover most games. Week 2 will see the final group games with two games at 10 a.m. and two at 2 p.m. We welcome all fans and encourage people to keep an eye on Facebook and Instagram for more details.”
Another Arlington option, Crystal City Sports Pub opens at 8 a.m. every day, allowing fans to watch three of the four group-stage games.
A leftfield suggestion, perhaps, but in one of America’s most international cities, you should pursue a truly international experience. Appioo is a Ghanaian restaurant on U Street NW —and their national team is in Cockburn’s “group of death” alongside Portugal, Uruguay and South Korea. “Appioo will be the hub for especially Ghanaians for the the World Cup but most importantly, we will be showing all the games,” owner Prince Matey. “Food and drinks will be available too.”
A Dupont Circle mainstay, Across the Pond on Connecticut Avenue is popular among supporters of Premier League soccer and will be opening early for 8 a.m. games. Tables and the full schedule can be seen on their website.
Cockburn would gently advise against the somewhat overpriced and low-atmosphere Wunder Garten in NoMa — and one of his sources tells him that Dacha in Shaw often refuses to put the audio on.
A DC bonus: embassies and government organizations will be hosting events for their respective nations. Wales, for example, will be having a watch party on Dupont Circle for their group opener against the USMNT on Monday.
Cockburn aims to be as exhaustive as possible — if you’re a bar owner opening early and showing World Cup matches with sound, drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.