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D.C. bar guru Derek Brown queried Twitter last month, asking his followers to name their top five favorite sandwiches. The timing made sense. His bar, Columbia Room, had just launched the “Get a Hero Be a Hero” pop-up specializing in sandwiches like the “club sub” and “cold cutlet king.” It’s the brainchild of the bar’s beverage director and partner Paul Taylor.
But Brown specified on Twitter that all “hot dog posts will be blocked,” revealing his deep belief that a hot dog—even a fully loaded, gourmet one—isn’t a sandwich. Fellow Shaw bar Ivy and Coney was having none of it. They replied, begging to be blocked with a beauty shot of their Detroit and Chicago dogs.
The two bars are planning to settle their beef at a debate on May 19 that the public can tune into via Zoom. Raman Santra, the founder of the blog Barred in DC, will moderate the discussion between fancy bar and dive bar.
“My day job as a lawyer has barely prepared me to help moderate this great debate,” Santra says. “A hot dog seems that it may meet the criteria of a sandwich, but there is no unanimity whether it is in fact one.”
The “Earls Before Swine” event runs from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday night. It should have the vibe of a variety show. There will also be a cocktail class. Those who tune in will learn how to make a celery gimlet from the Columbia Room team. Then Ivy and Coney will demonstrate how to properly serve Malört with a beer. Participants will be able to order cocktail kits later this week from newly launched pick-up and delivery platform DC To-GoGo so they can play along at home.
Finally, there will be a short discussion highlighting the myriad ways restaurants and bars have gotten creative to stay somewhat viable during COVID-19. The organizers are calling it a “State of the Union” for the hospitality industry. The intended audience for Earls Before Swine is both the general public and service industry professionals. This food editor and Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington President Kathy Hollinger will take part in the conversation.
“This is our way of bringing bars to the customers,” Brown says. “We miss them, truly. What do you do at bars? Share a drink, talk about what’s going on, and smack talk. Earls Before Swine is all three.”
Adam Fry, co-founder of Ivy and Coney and DC To-GoGo, echoes Brown’s sentiments. “There is a time-honored tradition in bars of connecting strangers by debating absurd claims without facts. Earls Before Swine lets two very different bars bring everyone together in the same way—by providing a sense of community over food and drink.”
There is no cost to join in, but viewers are asked to donate $25 to the Power of 10 Initiative or another charity of their choice.