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The bar scene at the flagship Anxo.
Anxo/Facebook

18 Essential D.C. Bars

Head here to sip the finest beers, wines, and cocktails around

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The bar scene at the flagship Anxo.
| Photo by Anxo/Facebook

The work hard, play hard attitude in D.C. has birthed a class of must-visit bars ranging from shot-slinging watering holes with plenty of personality to refined cocktail dens focused on showcasing locally produced spirits. Whether pulling up a chair alongside beer geeks at Bluejacket or soaking up the history of whiskey at Jack Rose, these bars are the essential spots to grab a drink in the DMV.

Prefer to bend the elbow at the latest “it” destination? Peruse the new bar heat map, which focuses on recent arrivals and older places that have switched things up a bit. Or check the cocktail heat map to track down the latest drink sensations crossing everyone’s lips.

Updated by Travis Mitchell

The featured bars, restaurants, and distilleries are not ranked. They are arranged geographically from north to south.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Jack Rose

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2007 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 588-7388
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This multi-faceted Adams Morgan bar and restaurant boasts 2,600 whiskies (and counting), many of which are prominently displayed in the main dining room and saloon, which also offers craft beers and cocktails. Downstairs, Dram & Grain deals in fancy cocktails in a speakeasy vibe (reservations required on weekends). An open-air roof deck sprawls across the third floor, which serves draft beer and allows for good people watching along 18th street below. The food menu features comfort fare such as buttermilk biscuits with ham and pimento cheese.

Customers dining at Jack Rose’s whiskey-filled downstairs bar.
Jack Rose/Facebook

2. Archipelago

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1201 U St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 627-0794
Visit Website

Archipelago, with its shrine to Tom Selleck and boozy rum drinks, feels like an escape from the mundane that doesn’t take things too seriously. Drink options include piña coladas, mai tais, banana daiquiris, and the sized-to-share “Pineapple of Hospitality.” Snacks like dan dan noodles and kung pao wings provide a suitable base for boozing. Happy hour from 5 p.m . to 7 p.m. is a particularly good deal, with $2 egg rolls, $4 beers, $8 hurricanes, and other specials.

A tiki drink at Archipelago.
Archipelago/Facebook

3. Service Bar

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926-928 U St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 462-7232
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Service Bar draws a consistent crowd of regulars, visitors, and bar industry friends to U Street NW for its inventive cocktails and friendly bartenders. Its list of $7 drinks, which includes picks like an Old Fashioned and a classic daiquiri, is a revelation in a city of high-priced cocktails. The rest of the menu is arranged by spirits and makes use of seasonal ingredients wherever possible. When it’s time to celebrate, book the Snug, a private room attached to the bar for groups of eight to 10. The fried chicken is a fan favorite.

A gin drink at Service Bar.
Service Bar/Facebook

4. Showtime

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113 Rhode Island Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001

This new school dive with an eclectic jukebox (free), beer-and-shot combos, and a house band headed up by an octogenarian feels right at home in come-as-you-are Bloomingdale. It’s also become a quintessential last stop before turning in for the night.

Customers drinking at Showtime.
Showtime/Facebook

5. 2 Birds 1 Stone

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1800 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

Fans of 2 Birds 1 Stone are probably aware that the cocktail haven’s drink specials change weekly. But do they know Adam Bernbach’s also taps into his creative side and draws the menu? Any drink containing the subterranean bar’s house ginger soda, such as a Pimm’s Cup, is a good bet. The dimly lit lounge is a prime spot for a date or a networking meeting. This is D.C., after all, where business is done over cocktails, not coffee.

A rye drink at 2 Birds 1 Stone.
2 Birds 1 Stone/Facebook

6. Anxo Cidery & Pintxos Bar

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300 Florida Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 986-3795
Visit Website

Anxo pioneered the rebirth of locally made cider in D.C., and this Florida Avenue bar is the original place to taste what the homegrown company has brewing. Guests here can sip ciders organized into four categories: bright, structured, fruit-forward, and rustic. Offerings include Anxo’s own creations, like Happy Trees, along with collaborations and imported ciders of note. Dinner includes Basque-style pinxtos such as a smoked anchovy montadito and a rotating croquette of the day.

Staff pouring imported cider at Anxo.
Anxo/Facebook

7. Dacha Beer Garden

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1600 7th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 350-9888
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Beer lovers seek out this Shaw spot for its Munich-like atmosphere, glass boots full of German beer, and chicken schnitzel sandwiches. The taps are most loyal to Weihenstephaner, but pours from locally owned Right Proper Brewing Company and DC Brau Brewing Company, as well as imports from Leffe and Warsteiner are also in play. Recent upgrades include a new menu (brunch, too) developed by former Doi Moi executive chef Sasha Felikson. Two expansions are in the works, including a new location at Dock 79 near Nationals Park, and another outpost headed to the 14th Street corridor. Happy hour runs Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Official

8. The Passenger

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1539 7th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 853-3588
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Drinkers and bartenders rejoiced when Tom Brown’s beloved bar returned in all its glory in 2016. Like an old pal, the place feels as if it never left, with down-to-earth vibes from the staff and the menu. Order something from the succinct rotating selection on the chalkboard, or leave things in the hands of the expert guides behind the bar.

9. Cotton & Reed

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1330 5th St NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 544-2805
Visit Website

This distillery near Union Market is a popular gathering place for cocktails and pours of locally made rum. House drinks include a classic daiquiri and the Redbeard, made with with Cotton & Reed white rum, lime, Campari and ginger beer. And don’t be shy about ordering a pour of dry-spiced rum neat or on the rocks. As an added bonus, the laser-etched animals and patterns on the bar tiles virtually beg to be Instagrammed.

Customers drinking at Cotton & Reed.
Cotton & Reed/Facebook

10. Maxwell Park

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1336 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 792-9522
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Maxwell Park is a wine bar from sommelier Brent Kroll, whose resume includes stints at Proof and Iron Gate, among others. The temperature-controlled bar features a monthly theme menu that spotlights lesser-known wines at fair price points. All told, there are around 50 wines available by the glass at a time, in addition to 500 or so bottles. A modest food menu includes nduja toast, smoked trout dip, and other snacks to pair with the quality wines.

Customers ordering wine at Maxwell Park.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

11. Columbia Room

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124 Blagden Alley NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 316-9396
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This luxe, showy cocktail lounge from Drink Company co-founder Derek Brown may have moved to Blagden Alley and tripled in size, but it maintains its exclusive, lucky-to-drink-here feel. Claim a coveted spot in the airy punch garden or settle in at the plush spirits library, where a la carte drink menus are provided. Or make a reservation for the mosaic-backed tasting room that allows guests to choose between three-course or five-course cocktail tasting menus. Drinks at the latter are next level, as are the food pairings prepared by chef Johnny Spero.

A flaming drink at Columbia Room.
Columbia Room/Facebook

12. Off the Record

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800 16th St NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 638-6600
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This red velvet-wrapped haunt in the underbelly of the Hay-Adams hotel is has been a second home to politicos, journalists, and visiting dignitaries for decades. The bar’s politically inspired drinks and classic cocktails (think: mint juleps, icy mules, and tangy rickeys) are legendary.

13. Copycat Co.

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1110 H St NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 241-1952
Visit Website

Copycat Co. founder Devin Gong does more than design drinks at his sultry Atlas District cocktail den, popular among the bar industry crowd. His menu also schools customers in the history behind classic cocktails such as Manhattans, martinis, smashes and mules. Copycat Co. stands out further because it serves Chinese dumplings and skewers of meat on the cheap alongside textbook dry martinis. Gong has a second bar in the works in Dupont Circle.

Assorted cocktails at Copycat Co.
Copycat Co./Facebook

14. Dubliner

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4 F St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 737-3773
Visit Website

The charm of the Dubliner is that the family-run bar has been in business since 1974. Here, Irish-accented bartenders pour the perfect pint of Guinness every time. The iconic bar also boasts a proprietary Irish whiskey that goes down smooth, along with about 100 other Irish whiskies to sample. Visit on nights when there’s live music and fill up on traditional Emerald Isle fare like corned beef and cabbage, fish and chips, and shepherd’s pie.

Customers drinking at the Dubliner.
Dubliner/Facebook

15. Barmini

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501 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 393-4451
Visit Website

There’s something dreamlike about the setting at José Andrés’ Barmini, which is outfitted in striking white with wild accents like a cactus couch. The cocktail lab, where reservations are recommended, has a lengthy menu featuring more than 100 classic and experimental cocktails. Part of the fun is watching bartenders use cutting-edge technology and general wizardry to craft drinks right in front of patrons. Some change color, others arrive still smoking, and cotton candy may very well be an ingredient. Small snacks that appeal to gourmands are also available.

16. Wisdom

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1432 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 543-2323
Visit Website

Before there was Dram & Grain or 2 Birds 1 Stone, there was Wisdom in Southeast. The bar, run by Erik Holzherr, has a healthy obsession with gin. Choose from house-infused tonic flavors when building a drink with one of the bar’s many gins. The menu also walks customers through how to order a gin martini with confidence.

The liquor selection at Wisdom.
Wisdom/Facebook

17. Bluejacket

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300 Tingey St SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 524-4862
Visit Website

Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s debut brewery has become part of the fabric of Navy Yard, attracting baseball fans and beer geeks alike. Bluejacket has a rotating lineup of 16 draft beers and four casks, all produced in-house. Favorites include Mexican Radio spiced sweet stout and the Lost Weekend IPA. Select cans are available for purchase starting on noon each Friday. The kitchen turns out satisfying bar fare, too. Expect dishes like a fried mumbo sauce chicken sandwich or loaded potato skins.

Customers drinking at Bluejacket.
Samantha L./Yelp
728 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 299-8385
Visit Website

Todd Thrasher’s cocktail den is one of the region’s first bars to go all-in on the speakeasy craze. Accessed by an unmarked side door, the bar is perched above sibling “chipper” Eamonn’s in Old Town Alexandria. Making a reservation means traveling back in time to the golden age of cocktails, so expect to see classics or riffs on classics, plus the occasional tiki drink because Thrasher has a crush on rum.

Founder Todd Thrasher mixing drinks at PX.
PX/Facebook

1. Jack Rose

2007 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Customers dining at Jack Rose’s whiskey-filled downstairs bar.
Jack Rose/Facebook

This multi-faceted Adams Morgan bar and restaurant boasts 2,600 whiskies (and counting), many of which are prominently displayed in the main dining room and saloon, which also offers craft beers and cocktails. Downstairs, Dram & Grain deals in fancy cocktails in a speakeasy vibe (reservations required on weekends). An open-air roof deck sprawls across the third floor, which serves draft beer and allows for good people watching along 18th street below. The food menu features comfort fare such as buttermilk biscuits with ham and pimento cheese.

2007 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

2. Archipelago

1201 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009
A tiki drink at Archipelago.
Archipelago/Facebook

Archipelago, with its shrine to Tom Selleck and boozy rum drinks, feels like an escape from the mundane that doesn’t take things too seriously. Drink options include piña coladas, mai tais, banana daiquiris, and the sized-to-share “Pineapple of Hospitality.” Snacks like dan dan noodles and kung pao wings provide a suitable base for boozing. Happy hour from 5 p.m . to 7 p.m. is a particularly good deal, with $2 egg rolls, $4 beers, $8 hurricanes, and other specials.

1201 U St NW
Washington, DC 20009

3. Service Bar

926-928 U St NW, Washington, DC 20001
A gin drink at Service Bar.
Service Bar/Facebook

Service Bar draws a consistent crowd of regulars, visitors, and bar industry friends to U Street NW for its inventive cocktails and friendly bartenders. Its list of $7 drinks, which includes picks like an Old Fashioned and a classic daiquiri, is a revelation in a city of high-priced cocktails. The rest of the menu is arranged by spirits and makes use of seasonal ingredients wherever possible. When it’s time to celebrate, book the Snug, a private room attached to the bar for groups of eight to 10. The fried chicken is a fan favorite.

926-928 U St NW
Washington, DC 20001

4. Showtime

113 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
Customers drinking at Showtime.
Showtime/Facebook

This new school dive with an eclectic jukebox (free), beer-and-shot combos, and a house band headed up by an octogenarian feels right at home in come-as-you-are Bloomingdale. It’s also become a quintessential last stop before turning in for the night.

113 Rhode Island Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001

5. 2 Birds 1 Stone

1800 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
A rye drink at 2 Birds 1 Stone.
2 Birds 1 Stone/Facebook

Fans of 2 Birds 1 Stone are probably aware that the cocktail haven’s drink specials change weekly. But do they know Adam Bernbach’s also taps into his creative side and draws the menu? Any drink containing the subterranean bar’s house ginger soda, such as a Pimm’s Cup, is a good bet. The dimly lit lounge is a prime spot for a date or a networking meeting. This is D.C., after all, where business is done over cocktails, not coffee.

1800 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

6. Anxo Cidery & Pintxos Bar

300 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
Staff pouring imported cider at Anxo.
Anxo/Facebook

Anxo pioneered the rebirth of locally made cider in D.C., and this Florida Avenue bar is the original place to taste what the homegrown company has brewing. Guests here can sip ciders organized into four categories: bright, structured, fruit-forward, and rustic. Offerings include Anxo’s own creations, like Happy Trees, along with collaborations and imported ciders of note. Dinner includes Basque-style pinxtos such as a smoked anchovy montadito and a rotating croquette of the day.

300 Florida Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001

7. Dacha Beer Garden

1600 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Official

Beer lovers seek out this Shaw spot for its Munich-like atmosphere, glass boots full of German beer, and chicken schnitzel sandwiches. The taps are most loyal to Weihenstephaner, but pours from locally owned Right Proper Brewing Company and DC Brau Brewing Company, as well as imports from Leffe and Warsteiner are also in play. Recent upgrades include a new menu (brunch, too) developed by former Doi Moi executive chef Sasha Felikson. Two expansions are in the works, including a new location at Dock 79 near Nationals Park, and another outpost headed to the 14th Street corridor. Happy hour runs Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

1600 7th St NW
Washington, DC 20001

8. The Passenger

1539 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Drinkers and bartenders rejoiced when Tom Brown’s beloved bar returned in all its glory in 2016. Like an old pal, the place feels as if it never left, with down-to-earth vibes from the staff and the menu. Order something from the succinct rotating selection on the chalkboard, or leave things in the hands of the expert guides behind the bar.

1539 7th St NW
Washington, DC 20001

9. Cotton & Reed

1330 5th St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Customers drinking at Cotton & Reed.
Cotton & Reed/Facebook

This distillery near Union Market is a popular gathering place for cocktails and pours of locally made rum. House drinks include a classic daiquiri and the Redbeard, made with with Cotton & Reed white rum, lime, Campari and ginger beer. And don’t be shy about ordering a pour of dry-spiced rum neat or on the rocks. As an added bonus, the laser-etched animals and patterns on the bar tiles virtually beg to be Instagrammed.

1330 5th St NE
Washington, DC 20002

10. Maxwell Park

1336 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Customers ordering wine at Maxwell Park.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Maxwell Park is a wine bar from sommelier Brent Kroll, whose resume includes stints at Proof and Iron Gate, among others. The temperature-controlled bar features a monthly theme menu that spotlights lesser-known wines at fair price points. All told, there are around 50 wines available by the glass at a time, in addition to 500 or so bottles. A modest food menu includes nduja toast, smoked trout dip, and other snacks to pair with the quality wines.

1336 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001

11. Columbia Room

124 Blagden Alley NW, Washington, DC 20001
A flaming drink at Columbia Room.
Columbia Room/Facebook

This luxe, showy cocktail lounge from Drink Company co-founder Derek Brown may have moved to Blagden Alley and tripled in size, but it maintains its exclusive, lucky-to-drink-here feel. Claim a coveted spot in the airy punch garden or settle in at the plush spirits library, where a la carte drink menus are provided. Or make a reservation for the mosaic-backed tasting room that allows guests to choose between three-course or five-course cocktail tasting menus. Drinks at the latter are next level, as are the food pairings prepared by chef Johnny Spero.

124 Blagden Alley NW
Washington, DC 20001

12. Off the Record

800 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20006

This red velvet-wrapped haunt in the underbelly of the Hay-Adams hotel is has been a second home to politicos, journalists, and visiting dignitaries for decades. The bar’s politically inspired drinks and classic cocktails (think: mint juleps, icy mules, and tangy rickeys) are legendary.

800 16th St NW
Washington, DC 20006

13. Copycat Co.

1110 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Assorted cocktails at Copycat Co.
Copycat Co./Facebook

Copycat Co. founder Devin Gong does more than design drinks at his sultry Atlas District cocktail den, popular among the bar industry crowd. His menu also schools customers in the history behind classic cocktails such as Manhattans, martinis, smashes and mules. Copycat Co. stands out further because it serves Chinese dumplings and skewers of meat on the cheap alongside textbook dry martinis. Gong has a second bar in the works in Dupont Circle.

1110 H St NE
Washington, DC 20002

14. Dubliner

4 F St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Customers drinking at the Dubliner.
Dubliner/Facebook

The charm of the Dubliner is that the family-run bar has been in business since 1974. Here, Irish-accented bartenders pour the perfect pint of Guinness every time. The iconic bar also boasts a proprietary Irish whiskey that goes down smooth, along with about 100 other Irish whiskies to sample. Visit on nights when there’s live music and fill up on traditional Emerald Isle fare like corned beef and cabbage, fish and chips, and shepherd’s pie.

4 F St NW
Washington, DC 20001

15. Barmini

501 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20004

There’s something dreamlike about the setting at José Andrés’ Barmini, which is outfitted in striking white with wild accents like a cactus couch. The cocktail lab, where reservations are recommended, has a lengthy menu featuring more than 100 classic and experimental cocktails. Part of the fun is watching bartenders use cutting-edge technology and general wizardry to craft drinks right in front of patrons. Some change color, others arrive still smoking, and cotton candy may very well be an ingredient. Small snacks that appeal to gourmands are also available.

501 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20004

Related Maps

16. Wisdom

1432 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003
The liquor selection at Wisdom.
Wisdom/Facebook

Before there was Dram & Grain or 2 Birds 1 Stone, there was Wisdom in Southeast. The bar, run by Erik Holzherr, has a healthy obsession with gin. Choose from house-infused tonic flavors when building a drink with one of the bar’s many gins. The menu also walks customers through how to order a gin martini with confidence.

1432 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003

17. Bluejacket

300 Tingey St SE, Washington, DC 20003
Customers drinking at Bluejacket.
Samantha L./Yelp

Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s debut brewery has become part of the fabric of Navy Yard, attracting baseball fans and beer geeks alike. Bluejacket has a rotating lineup of 16 draft beers and four casks, all produced in-house. Favorites include Mexican Radio spiced sweet stout and the Lost Weekend IPA. Select cans are available for purchase starting on noon each Friday. The kitchen turns out satisfying bar fare, too. Expect dishes like a fried mumbo sauce chicken sandwich or loaded potato skins.

300 Tingey St SE
Washington, DC 20003

18. PX

728 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314
Founder Todd Thrasher mixing drinks at PX.
PX/Facebook

Todd Thrasher’s cocktail den is one of the region’s first bars to go all-in on the speakeasy craze. Accessed by an unmarked side door, the bar is perched above sibling “chipper” Eamonn’s in Old Town Alexandria. Making a reservation means traveling back in time to the golden age of cocktails, so expect to see classics or riffs on classics, plus the occasional tiki drink because Thrasher has a crush on rum.

728 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314

Related Maps