Monday, May 19, 2008

Starvin' Marvin

I need to trust my gut more about places like this. I should have known better.

I've been to Marvin twice now. Once was a Sunday afternoon after brunch, because it was a nice day. The other time was last Tuesday meeting a friend for a drink, also because it was a nice day. In both cases we were lured by the prospect of the outdoor rooftop deck. It seemed an alternative to Local 16, which is about the trashiest pick-up joint in DC and not high on my list despite their large deck.

After my first drink last Tuesday, I remembered the problem I'd had from the first visit. The drinks. They are absurdly expensive -- and weak. I ordered a rail gin and soda. This is a drink which Wonderland sells for 2 bucks at happy hour. Marvin? $7.

Seven bucks for a rail drink is pretty outrageous. At least it seems that way, until you decide to switch to a top shelf drink, hoping they might actually put some alcohol in it if you pay the premium.

Another eleven dollars later, I had a Bombay Sapphire and Soda in my hand. Unfortunately, it too contained a virtually undedectable amount of gin. I didn't have my CSI kit on hand to test conclusively for the presence of alcohol, but I can say from experience, if there was any to be found, it was only trace amounts. Suddenly, the 7 bucks for a glass of soda water with essence of juniper seemed like a pretty good deal.

I don't think it's a lot to ask that when you pay 11 bucks for a drink, it have at minimum a standard pour. I then remembered how things had gone down on my first visit here on a Sunday afternoon.

I'd had had three gin & sodas that day before I noticed that I was experiencing none of the effects normally associated with such consumption. So I commented to the bartender about this, and asked if it might be possible to get more than a splash of liquor for my 11 bucks. The bartender without missing a beat said, "So, you want a double?"

Umm, no. I don't want to pay $22 for a double. Let's do some simple math here:

$11 for approx. zero ounces of gin
x 2 (double)
$22 for approx. zero ounces of gin
Bad Deal

So, three drinks in, I left entirely sober and vowed never to return to a place that charges more than Palena for a mixed drink, yet doesn't see fit to actually provide any alcohol. Sorry, Marvin. Your trendy, yet oddly cruddy atmosphere is not worth paying strip club drink prices for.

I wonder if I'm missing the point. Maybe this is all a cover-your-ass scenario. Marvin is basically a higher-priced (yet equally skanky/hip) version of Local 16. There are probably lots of under-age college kids in there at any given moment. If they ever got busted for serving minors, they could simply argue that they hadn't actually served anyone any alcohol.

n.b. I discussed this situation with my friend Sara, who immediately confirmed from her own experience that Marvin short pours. She said you just can't get hard liquor there - always order beer, since they can't water it down or short pour. OK, fair enough. The beer's pretty damn expensive too, but at least you know what you're getting. But I still feel that on principle, why should I patronize someplace that is going out of their way to rip me off? Why should I try so hard to find a way NOT to get screwed at a bar run by cheapskates? Far easier to take my business to one of the many places in DC that actually isn't trying to screw their customers.

Update ... made the blog log on 5/20. I know, it's silly, but I love this shit.


Shannon said...

I haven't been to Marvin, but anytime I've walked by it looked jammed with the sort of people who would jam their stilleto into my toes just to get an eighth of an inch closer to the bar. No thanks, I'll be 'round the corner at Polly's. Half the price and twice the fun.

Anonymous said...

Uhmmm, so I went to Local 16 the other night and it didn't seem to be all that trashy or pick up joint-y. Granted, I was sick and only concentrating on my friends, but we had a nice time over in our little corner. Granted, it was a weeknight and we left before it got too crowded...and I wasn't wearing anything skanky. Maybe that's why I didn't get hit on...because now that I think about it, there were a few women who could have been mistaken for working girls...