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Mug Shots: Where to Wine and Dine in a Political Hothouse

Washingtonians have never needed an excuse to drink or to eat. After all, this town runs on boozing and schmoozing at bars all over the city.

But if you are one who likes to have a reason to raise a glass, the campaign season is the perfect excuse to throw back a few spirits. In honor of the showdown between Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), many area bars and restaurants are offering candidate-themed cocktails and dishes. From Palini-tinis to “bipartisan” lunches, D.C. is doing all that it can to celebrate the election year.

Capitol Hill, that shining beacon of campaign spirit, recently welcomed Article One, a new bar and lounge at the Hyatt (400 New Jersey Ave. NW). This swanky hotel bar has wasted no time diving into the election festivities and will be featuring candidate-themed cocktails through Nov. 4. For $11.04 — the price translates into Election Day — customers can drink their vote while watching election coverage on one of the many plasma screen TVs in the bar.

Those with a sweet tooth are sure to love the O’Bama Mama (Bacardi O rum, coconut rum, orange juice and pineapple juice) and the Palini-tini (Grey Goose

vodka, peach schnapps and a splash of Chambord). If you’re looking for an old standard, the “Joe Biden” Collins is a nice take on the traditional Tom Collins, featuring Dewar’s scotch, sour mix and a splash of Coke.

If campaign season run you ragged, a McCane & Able may be just the thing you need to wake up. This drink of Mount Gay rum and Red Bull is sure to give you a buzz and keep you up until the last state is called.

Over at 701 (701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) Chef Bobby Varua has gotten into the campaign spirit with his three-course, fixed price bipartisan lunch special. For $24, both Republicans and Democrats can indulge in such treats as warm fresh mozzarella crostini with pickled grapes and marinated flank steak with garlic pomme frites. The ever-patriotic dessert of warm apple tart will also be offered.

What the restaurant is referring to as a “politically correct menu” will be offered from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Inauguration Day. The specials will change through the coming months, according to 701.

Zola (800 F St. NW) will be offering red state and blue state cocktails for $10 apiece through November. The Republican cocktail is a mix of Standing Guard gin, Meyer lemon juice, maraschino liqueur topped with rose and Champagne served in a chilled martini glass. More liberal drinkers can enjoy a blue mixture of Valor vodka Elderflower and agave nectar with Blue Curacao, fresh lime juice and sun-dried blueberries. The cocktails are being made from gin and vodka produced by Brave Spirits because proceeds from each bottle benefit the nation’s military personnel.

If you’re looking to hang closer to the prize, Chef Geoff’s Downtown (1301 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) — located a few blocks from the White House — has been in the election spirit for some time. For the past few weeks, those who dine at the restaurant have been asked to partake in a straw poll, choosing from “Barack Obama/Democratic Party,” “John McCain/Republican Party” or “Chef Geoff/ Dinner Party.” Chef Geoff’s warns, though, that the poll is “unofficial, unauthorized and with a relatively high margin of error.” With less than a month until Election Day, Obama is in the lead.

The restaurant is also serving specialty drinks at both its locations and its sister restaurant, Lia’s. For $10, voters can indulge in the McCain Mojito (Zacapa rum, mint, lime and sugar cane) or the Ciroc O’Poma (Ciroc vodka, pineapple, lime and pomegranate). These drinks will be offered throughout the campaign season.

Finally, Asia Nine Bar and Lounge (915 E St. NW) will be adding a new twist to the election-themed fare. Rather than cocktails, this Penn Quarter hot spot is serving candidate-themed sushi rolls for $8. The Obama Lean and Green Roll features asparagus, cucumber, avocado, radish sprout and basil leaves, while the McCain Roll is a mix of lobster, guacamole and tortilla chips.

The Biden Roll is a crunchy combo of local crabmeat, cucumber and wasabi cream sauce. The Palin Roll features — what else? — smoked Alaskan salmon with spicy mayo. You can make your vote known via your sushi order through Election Day.