Here in Washingtonian, we take watching political debates on the big screen as seriously as some folks take the Super Bowl. The criteria for a great debate-watching party spot are simple: TVs tuned to our preferred news source, a good spot where we can settle in, and drinks to stimulate a bit of friendly debate among our pals. Most television-equipped bars in town will accommodate debate-watching patrons, but some spots are raising the bar with thematic food, drinks, and other festivities. Below, we've rounded our picks for the best watering holes in town to take in the political repartee — creating a drinking game out of every time a candidate says "um," however, is up to you. Topaz Bar
Topaz is bringing in extra screens just for the debates, so you know things are serious. Not too serious, though — its Romney Float is a root beer float with "salted lake" caramel drizzle (non-alcoholic until you add the optional Root Organic Liquor).
Where: 1733 N Street NW; 202-393-3000.
Poste Moderne Brasserie
Head bartender Jason Wiles has created three election-themed cocktails, which will be available through the inauguration (including an all-day happy hour on November 6). A Blue State of Mind — with gin, St. Germain, lime, rosemary, and an absinthe rinse — sounds great, but hopefully the Bi-Partisan Martini will please everyone.
Where: 555 8th Street NW; 202-783-6060.
Quill at The Jefferson Thomas Jefferson may not have been much for public debating, but the bar at his lovely namesake hotel is still an ideal viewing spot. Quill is making a special debate-nights-only cocktail called The Presidential, with a very American recipe of Jefferson bourbon, applejack, whiskey barrel bitters, and lemon.
Where: 1200 16th Street NW; 202-448-2300.
1331 at J.W. Marriott
Thanks to a prime location adjacent to the National Press Club and just down the block from the White House, you might just eavesdrop on some prime political gossip at this recently renovated hotel bar. And, if not, you can still indulge in the election-themed specials: the Campaign Champagne Cocktail and your choice of "left" or "right" chicken wings (an Obama-honoring Hawaiian pineapple glaze on the lefties; Boston baked beans served with the rights).
Where: 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue NW; 202-393-2000.
Grab a seat at the bar, soothe your nerves with some upscale comfort food (like the grass-fed beef sliders topped with "government cheese"), and vote for the candidate of your choice via your drink selection: Blue Hawaiians for President Obama, "Mitt" Juleps for Governor Romney.
Where: 2200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW; 202-587-8277.
Photo: Courtesy of Quill