Planning a wedding is a big job for a bride and her family. They have to decide on the service, the flowers, the wedding-party members, the date, the reception hall, the menu, the availability of alcohol, the invitations, the tuxedos, the bridesmaid dresses that will never be worn again, the honeymoon and, of course, whether the groom is worthy. All the groom has to do is lick envelopes for the invitations, advocate an open bar, make sure his portion of the wedding party arrives on time and doesn't smell of tequila from more than five feet away, not look at other women during the reception or the honeymoon, and make up excuses for putting off the thank-you notes another weekend. What with all this stress, it's no wonder that neither the bride nor the groom give consideration to the most critical aspect of the wedding day: what their guests are supposed to do between the ceremony and the opening of the bar at the reception.
Several members of the Institute of Drinking Studies recently watched our Latin Representative marry a wonderfully tolerant woman who happens to be an accomplished drinker herself. They had a Catholic ceremony, so we spent much of the final three hours of the service in a whispered debate about where to go until the reception started. By the time we exited the church, we'd reached a consensus: the Capitol Lounge (1550 Court Place, in the Adam's Mark Hotel). So while the wedding party went off to fill millions of miles of film with fake smiles because its members were desperate to have a drink to obliterate the hangover of the previous two days, we trekked to the Adam's Mark and started warming up for the night.
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There's little doubt that the Capitol Lounge caters to thirsty wedding guests on a regular basis. It's a very pleasant place, with nice furniture, a good menu of non-messy food, and an excellent selection of booze that helps encourage well-dressed people to hook up with complete strangers. While some of our group opted for the plush leather chairs, my daughter and I bellied up to the bar with the Mormon Representative and his wife; Allison couldn't wait another second for the promised Shirley Temple lest she go into sugar withdrawal.
The bartender recognized not only that Allison required fast service, but that her much-less-mature father and friends needed constant care. We were soon enjoying an array of wine, beer and mixed drinks strong enough to strip paint, which resulted almost immediately in a comfortable buzz that just increased throughout the evening. I have little doubt that our stop at the Capitol Lounge played an instrumental role in the Mormon Representative's doing push-ups on the dance floor mid-reception, as well as commandeering the lobby piano, where we regaled the wedding party and the hotel at large with snippets of Styx and Billy Joel songs.
I'd passed the Capitol Lounge many times while walking along the 16th Street Mall, and often thought about ducking in to catch a game on its various TVs but never did. So I'm glad the Institute finally got around to doing some research here. It's an ideal spot for when your group is still civilized enough to look appropriate in suits and nice dresses, or when you want to impress your date by not taking her to a place where her shoes stick to the floor, or when you want to work on your story about how you're a business traveler looking for a good time in a foreign land.
We didn't get a chance to go back after the reception, which was probably good, because those giant plate-glass windows could have been a gateway to major reconstructive surgery. The grand piano on the second floor was a safer option, particularly while we were still stuck on the second verse of "Come Sail Away."