02/10/2012 11:48 am ET | Updated Feb 10, 2012

D.C. Bartenders Tell All: Valentine's Day Antics In A Dive Bar

WASHINGTON -- What does Valentine's Day look like at a raucous bar in the nation's capital?

It ain't always pretty, according to a handful of area bartenders.

This week, The Huffington Post prowled a stretch of Connecticut Avenue for sports bars, dives and happy hour spots for tales of Valentine's Day-induced shame, hookups and a little hope. Here's what we got.

First up is bartender Pablo Brown at Public Bar, who has worked two Valentine's Days at the bar. He's no fan of the holiday.

HuffPost DC: What's your take on Valentine's Day?

Pablo Brown: I think Valentine's Day is where romance goes go to die.

HuffPost DC: Whoa, there! Strong words. What's it like at Public?

Brown: It's very depressing! It's the place where you'll find a mix of people. Either the last minute couple, which is where the guy didn't make a reservation anywhere and came up with, "Oh let's go grab a drink, just the two of us." Fail. Or single people that are trying to prove that it's OK to be single on Valentine's day, which let's be realistic, it's not. It's OK to be single, but stay home. Don't go out the one day of the year you're made to feel bad about yourself.

HuffPost DC: Any memorable groups?

Brown: There's always that group of girls that have to come out together. Last year, I had an amazing group. Really sweet, all gorgeous ... As the night progressed, it's just like any bar. They go from sweet and pretty to monsters. Really drunk, really sloppy, really miserable, hating the bartender because he's a guy.

HuffPost DC: Yeesh. So does that mean this place is hookup central?

Brown: [It is on] Fridays and Saturdays. Finding someone to fool around with on Valentine's Day [which is a Tuesday] is another story. If you have a one night stand on Valentine's Day, you've just stooped to a whole new level of sadness.


OK, so maybe Public Bar isn't your ideal spot to score a date with someone of substance on Feb. 14. What about Lucky Bar, across the street? Probably not, said Chris Chernes, a part-owner who's been serving drinks behind the bar since the place opened in 1994. But, she did have some interesting ideas for Valentine's Day patrons.

HuffPost DC: Do you think this place will be full of love on Valentine's Day?

Chris Chernes: It's not romantic, I don't think. If I were taking someone out, and it was a significant other who I loved, I'd probably go out to dinner.

HuffPost DC: Point taken. Do you think anyone will show up, though?

Chernes: I guess we're the non-Valentine's bar. I mean people do come out, though. It's just another made up holiday, right?

HuffPost DC: Friggin' Hallmark!

Chernes: Maybe we should do the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and line people up and make them do shots for that or something.

HuffPost DC: That sounds like fun. Maybe a bit rough for a Tuesday night.

Chernes: Oh, well it's chicken wing night. 25 cent wings! They can come and eat red chicken wings. That would be romantic, right? You could just, like, dab the sauce off your partner's face. Or kiss it off?

Before you write off spending Valentine's Day with that special someone in the dark corner of a dingy bar, hear what The Big Hunt's general manager and beer director, Dave Coleman, has to say.

HuffPost DC: Do dive bars get a bad rap on Valentine's Day? What's this place like?

Dave Coleman: The Big Hunt has a kind of dirty dusty reputation for being a place where people actually do meet people that they stick with. ... Many people met their girlfriends or boyfriends or spouses here. I met my wife here.

HuffPost DC: That's so sweet! Do you do anything special here for Valentine's Day?

Coleman: We've come in here before and had drinks on Valentine's Day. ... But, my traditions are just "treat it like a normal day." If you're in love with someone, you're married or dating or whatever, that's 365 days a year -- it's not just on the Hallmark day.

HuffPost DC: Well that's pretty much the cutest thing ever.

Coleman: I don't know if you can quote me on that. I've got a reputation to uphold!

HuffPost: Too late. What do you say to people who haven't yet met someone that turns them into a pile of mush?

Coleman: Some people just have a really adverse reaction to a holiday that basically, if you're not part of a couple, you're not part of the holiday. That's kind of a garbage holiday set up.

HuffPost DC: Seriously. Does that lead to Valentine's Day hookups?

Coleman: You definitely see people who come in single, and someone of the opposite sex sit down next to them, and they're both like, "Oh yeah, it's Valentine's Day. This sucks. Let's make it suck less."

HuffPost: Does it make it suck less?

Coleman: Bars are a good thing. They do a good thing for Valentine's Day. They're a public service!