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Up for debate: Where to watch the candidates square off

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New Englanders are passionate about their politics. It's practically a blood sport. And the first presidential debate on Monday will be must-watch TV for sure. If you're in the mood for company, elect to view the debate at one of these Boston area spots instead, with clever cocktails and bites.

River Bar

This Assembly Row restaurant in Somerville will stream the debate on indoor and outdoor TVs. Be forewarned: If you're a swing voter, attempts will be made to sway your vote with dueling cocktail choices. You can elect to sip the "Vote for Me!" (Mescal, lime, orgeat, Domaine de Canton, and Blue Curacao, topped with IPA) or, the "No, Vote for Me!" (gin, lemon, egg white, and Blue Curacao). www.river-bar.com

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The Palm Restaurant

The steakhouse and seafood Palm in Boston's Financial District will air the debate on several TVs in the bar area — and, on the enclosed patio, too. The late-night, half-price Prime Bites menu will be available at the bar during the debate after 9 — meaning the classic cheeseburger with gremolata- seasoned shoestring potatoes will be $7, and the calamari fritti or basket of cottage fries will be $6.50. www.thepalm.com

The Last Hurrah and Parker’s Bar

Both of these iconic bars are located in Boston's historic Omni Parker House, which, by the way, has hosted every US president since Ulysses S. Grant. This is also the birthplace of Boston Cream Pie, and the spot where John F. Kennedy proposed to Jacqueline Bouvier. Watch the debate in The Last Hurrah, with framed photos of James Michael Curley and other Boston political notables hanging on the wall. In Parker's Bar, watch the debate and participate in Omni's Polling for Cocktails campaign. The way it works: You cast your ballot by ordering a cocktail from a menu featuring election-themed drinks. Republicans might elect to order the Trump-tini, made with Tito's Handmade Vodka, lemon, and cranberry juices, Domaine Chandon, and with a sugared rim. Dems might endorse the Hilla-rita, with Tres Generaciones Reposado Tequila, orange juice, agave, and DeKuyper Amaretto. For Independents, the POTUS Punch features Tito's Handmade Vodka, grenadine, fresh orange and lemon juices, and muddled blackberries. The campaign runs through Election Day; the promo is offered brand-wide, and drink orders are tallied and posted online every Wednesday. www.omni
hotels.com

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The Independent

On debate night, you'll get a ballot to cast your vote for your favorite candidate by way of a cocktail at this Somerville restaurant in Union Square. Order one of three specialty drink choices "designed to fuel the spirits of the 'Independent' vote." They are: "Third Party Candidate" (bourbon, Averna, and Campari), "Let's All Move to Canada" (Canadian Club Rye, Meletti Amaro, and maple syrup), and "Foreign Policy" (tequila, Combier Blackberry, lime, agave, and orange bitters). The winner of the drink debate will be announced at the end of the night. www.theindo.com

Brass Union

It's "Candidates & Cocktails" at this American tavern housed in the former Union Square Police Station in Somerville. Come to watch the debate stream live on a 70-inch HDTV in the lounge, and to sip one of the candidate-themed sips from Mad River Distillers and Royal Wines poured by guest bartenders Meaghan Sinclair and Harmony Dawn Kelly from Booze Époque. Featured drinks will be "Trump's Wall" and "Hillary's Email." www.brassunion.com

Cafeteria

The debate will be aired in the first-floor bar at this American-food-themed restaurant on Newbury Street in Boston. Show unity and share a Cafeteria Bowl (Absolut Peach, Citron, Cherry and Pear Vodka, and orange, pineapple, and cranberry juice). If things get too heated on the tube, take it outside to the patio instead to watch the strolling passersby who are clueless or could care less that there's a big debate underway. www.cafeteriaboston.com

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Bukowski Tavern

Chef Brian Poe will cook up some fun appetizers at his Cambridge restaurant on debate night. Order "The Trump" and you'll get "buffalo maple-dusted little fingers." (The "little fingers" is reference to the "little hands" exchange with Marco Rubio, and the "maple dust" is dehydrated maple syrup, a nod to Trump's ex-wife Marla Maples, who happened to be Poe's neighbor growing up in Dalton, Ga. Or, go with "The Hillary," and you'll get Crooked Tree IPA battered onion rings with a "private server" of dipping sauces. www.bukowskitavern.net


Laurie Wilson can be reached at laurieheather@yahoo.com.