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Feasting Famously with Nikki Schwab
A beer snob with a reporting problem gives us the scoop on the best bars to be seen, not seen, and her yeas and nays on entertaining.

If you’ve been in DC for more than an hour, you probably know Nikki Schwab, or at least of her. You definitely have seen her work all those times you were stuck on the Red Line, and you’ve certainly seen her out and about at all of the District’s hottest parties and events, either covering them for a story, hiding in the bushes stalking celebrities, or imbibing beverages because it’s DC and that’s what we do.

However, you most likely know her as the reporter at the helm of the wildly popular Yeas & Nays column at the Washington Examiner. Sadly, effective June 14th the feature published its last column in the Washington Examiner as they are now transitioning to a web/magazine based platform.

But never fear all you online stalkers of Nikki Schwab, she’s landed on her feet at Red Alert Politics where she’ll be taking Yeas & Nays to a whole new level. “I was at the Examiner for the past three and a half years, now we’re taking Yeas & Nays on the road so to speak and moving it over to Red Alert Politics,” Nikki says. “So all the stuff you know and love about Yeas & Nays will still be there, but it will be a little more nationally focused and less just DC only stuff.” I can dig it, I like national stuffs too.

Photo by Graeme Jennings

She continues modestly, “The same Nikki Schwab you know and hopefully love will be there doing non-partisan political-entertainment coverage.” As she says this I immediately picture TMZ but instead of Harvey Levin it’s Ron Paul talking about how Pelosi was spotted eating at Bourbon Steak and then complaining about how it’s still Bush’s fault…or something like that. Either way –  politics? entertainment? – I like those things, sign me up.

But please, that’s Nikki the journalist, I want to know Nikki the beer-drinking brunch-going person. If you’re a normal human being, you can admit the high level of joy you get from eavesdropping. I mean really, is there anything better than overhearing a first date? Or a job interview gone terribly wrong? No, no there is not, and it’s okay to say that, admitting it is the first step. I ask Nikki where the best bars for eavesdropping are. “Well, the Examiner bar was actually Post Pub and there is a placard on the wall that says where our area is. So if you want to see a bunch of journos  who likely aren’t making a ton of money but want to imbibe a lot, just go there.” Continuing on, “But actually, I am a member of the National Press Club, and it’s members only, and they have a bar – which actually got the first liquor license in DC after prohibition apparently, I guess all the journalists were first in line to start drinking again – but apparently their bar is actually off the record. Like, really. So if you want to have a conversation there, you can, and its off the record, and no one can report it. I like their margaritas,” she notes.

In keeping with that theme, I wanted to know where else she would go in DC to have a conversation off the record. Clearly I want to keep my sauce making a secret! “One of my favorite places to go in DC in my crazy overrun neighborhood is Veranda. It’s a little hole in the wall place that apparently Bradley Cooper always goes to when he is in town, clearly because he knows it’s a hole in the wall too.” Good to know I guess, he’s way too pretty to be within a mile radius of, so I’ll steer clear. But stalk away ladies. “Oh, it’s half-price wine on Tuesdays and they have that cheese they light on fire; it’s great,” Nikki notes. Fire cheese? Sign me up!

Obviously if you’re not going for discretion, Nikki says Café Milano, Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons, or Fahrenheit at the Ritz are your go to spots. “When I was doing ‘sightings’ at Yeas & Nays, those are the three places I’d go. I’d basically just hop around Georgetown stalking people,” she jokes. That’s still better than stalking people at Smith Point right?

When she isn’t lighting cheese on fire with Bradley Cooper, she does like to cook and entertain. “I entertain a ton during the summer because I have a great rooftop deck and a pool,” Nikki says. But entertaining is more than just having the space, she recognizes there are certainly some yeas and nays of that as well. “A nay for me is having a limited guest list. The more the merrier I always say. If people want to bring other people, a stranger, girlfriends, boyfriends, whatever; the more the merrier. Plus it’s a good way to expand your DC social circle,” she wisely points out. This is actually a great point. Think of how many times you have a party or host a happy hour and it’s the same people. Like you have a pre-saved list don’t you? Maybe you should open your circle wider – I always like meeting new people over cocktails, just saying (call me, maybe?).

“Obviously a yea then is including as many people as possible,” she smartly points out.

Hosting can be a lot of work, Nikki gets around it by having her guests bring dishes. “I do pot luck style,” she says. “I always bring kielbasa and I get my own meat from a local slaughterhouse in Pennsylvania where I’m from. So we always do grilled kielbasa – they’re so flavorful sometimes I just stick them on a fork and eat it.” MMMmmmmmmmm….grilled meat on a fork.

Surely she’s drinking beer as she readily admits she’s a beer snob. Right now Nikki enjoys the 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermellon beer, perfect for summer she adds. She also likes anything that Leinenkugel produces seasonally.

Like any good District resident, brunch is key, and she always orders breakfast. For beverages it’s “coffee, mimosa, and a water, and often bloody marys,” she adds. “I actually start with a bloody Mary, and then switch over as the day progresses. I do love me a good bloody Mary. I actually drink them at night a lot too, I don’t consider them just for breakfast, or mid-day really,” she remarks which makes me immediately miss day drinking.

As all good things must come to an end, we finish with the Feasting Famously Fast Five word association game. Let the randomness begin:

Bacon – the best thing ever
Lobbyists – suits and ties
Hill interns – short skirts and tanks
U Street – all grown up
Barack Obama – making people mad right now

So when you’re pursuing the interwebs today, drop Nikki a note and join everyone here at FamousDC as we congratulate her on her new gig. We know she’s going to do great. And next time you’re out drinking, watch your back, you never know if Nikki Schwab is nearby taking notes!