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Most of the time, day-drinking in Washington is about fun: brunch, tailgating, Saturday. By getting boozy before sundown, you’ve taken a holiday from the responsibilities of the daytime. But with the sequester set to go into effect at the end of the week—barring some miraculous congressional intervention—federal employees will soon have a new, less happy reason to day-drink: a lot of unpaid free time. Where should you spend it?

Hard Times Cafe

Where: 3028 Wilson Blvd., Arlington

Why: The happy hour begins at 3 p.m., an unusually early starting time appropriate for newly frugal federal employees. Plus, the name.

Irish Channel Pub

Where: 500 H St. NW

Why: This bar, located on the ground floor of a Fairfield Inn and Suites, is already popular among federal employees, so you’ll have company for your misery. Which is good, because a hotel bar might be even more depressing than the sequester. And since it operates from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m., you can stick around for the long haul.

Hawk ’n’ Dove

Where: 329 Pennsylvania Ave. SE

Why: The Capitol Hill dive recently received a classier, and some would say soulless, remodelling. A cheerful reminder that austerity has its upsides.

Nationals Park

Where: 1500 South Capitol St. SE

Why: Federal furloughs start on April 1. Fortunately for temporarily out-of-work baseball fans, that’s also Opening Day.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery