There are plenty of great places to enjoy an outstanding cocktail all over D.C.—but sometimes, you’d rather stay in your own neighborhood. To make the most of close-to-home (or close-to-work, or close-to-dinner) drinking, here’s our list of the best spots for an amazing drink, neighborhood by neighborhood.
Though it’s known for its great selection of wine (including many varieties on tap), Roofers Union’s sister bar has an equally thoughtful cocktail menu, with a touch of wine influence in every drink—think sherry, madeira, port, and vermouth. And you’ll even get to listen to vinyl records while you sip.
Specializing in gin, this relaxed neighborhood spot was one of the first craft cocktail bars in D.C. Unsurprisingly, they know how to make a killer gin martini, and their housemade G&Ts will spoil you for all others.
If you like bourbon, you’ll like this long-running spot, where the selection of “brown water” (which also includes Scotch, rye, Irish whiskey, and more) runs to more than 200 bottles. There’s a great menu of whiskey cocktails as well.
This second-floor speakeasy, accessible only via elevator, feels like a time machine to the past, thanks to its vintage decor and jazz-centric playlist. Drop in for happy hour (5-7pm on weekdays) for $6 Manhattans and old fashoneds.
With a bevy of rare bottles behind the bar, this elegant hotel lounge is the perfect place to get acquainted with rye—bourbon’s spicier, spunkier sibling. At $15-16 each, the drinks are on the pricey side, but each is made with precision.
H Street Corridor
Chinese street snacks like bao, skewers, and potstickers are the specialty at this hip address, but it’s also a great place to learn the ABCs of cocktails, with a rotating menu that explains different styles of classic drinks and all their variations, from Mai Tais to toddies, Aviations to Aperol spritzes.
It can be tough to snag a prime-time stool at this petite bar (a bouncer maintains a line out front), but it’s worth the wait. And despite having supremely skilled bartenders and an always-changing, creative menu, it’s surprisingly low on pretense.
The sister bar to Andres’ renowned restaurant Minibar is one of the nation’s most forward-thinking craft cocktail dens, with a massive menu of more than 100 beverages, many with fun showmanship elements like smoke or color changes. It’s pricey and reservations are a must, but it’s worth the splurge.
Some of D.C.’s most sought-after cocktails can be found at this swanky address, which offers different rooms for different experiences—easy-drinking bottled cocktails in the rooftop Punch Garden, rare spirits (including some dating to the 1800s) at the bar, and even a room with a cocktail tasting menu.
U Street Corridor
You’ll have to reserve ahead for a seat at this sleek speakeasy, but the intimate ambience makes it worthy of a special date night. The menu is curated afresh for each new season, with wittily named cocktails (try the 1-900-DRUNK-TEXT or the I Never Do This).
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