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The bar inside the Eastern has a Mid-century Modern style
The bar inside the Eastern has a Mid-century Modern style
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

22 Essential D.C. Bars

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

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The bar inside the Eastern has a Mid-century Modern style
| Rey Lopez/Eater DC

D.C. is a drinking town through and through. A work-hard, play-hard ethic is pervasive across a city full of young professionals that can be found unwinding with craft beer, natural wine, and complicated cocktails just about every night of the week. Whether a drinker’s preference is to splurge on futuristic cocktails at Minibar, soak up the history of whiskey at Jack Rose, or indulge in a frozen, minty green hard lemonade at Green Zone, these are the 22 standout drinking destinations around the District.

ChurchKey, normally a beer geek’s dream bar, remains temporarily closed, but it operates a virtual store within Neighborhood Provisions. Prefer to bend the elbow at the latest “it” destination? Check out the bar heat map.

D.C. allows indoor dining at 25 percent capacity, and alcohol consumption is allowed until 10 p.m. (midnight starting March 22). Many restaurants offer outdoor seating, but this should not be taken as endorsement for dining out, as there are still safety concerns. The Washington Post is tracking coronavirus cases and deaths in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. More information can be found at coronavirus.dc.gov. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Tequila & Mezcal

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Bar manager Israel Mendez makes all the sweet, spicy, and sour syrups that go into cocktail glasses rimmed with chile de arbol-laced tajin spice or worm salt. This bar, just north of Columbia Heights, is part of the Taqueria Habanero group, which means chef Dio Montero came up with the food menu of regional Mexican entrees like braised pork ribs in black mole sauce. Pickup, delivery, and on-site dining are all available.

Tiki On 18th

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Adams Morgan got a year-round slice of paradise in summer 2019 with a second-story beach bar above the Game Sports Pub. The tropical perch pairs a Polynesian-meets-Filipino menu with rum-heavy tiki drinks served in funky glassware. Order takeout or claim a seat on its wooden deck out front.

Franklin Hall DC

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Located in the historic Manhattan Laundry Building, this cavernous American beer hall from design and management group Tin Shop (Tall Boy, Church Hall) draws regulars for 24 drafts, liter-sized pours, and flatbreads and jumbo soft pretzels to soak it all up. Reserve a seat inside or outside Thursdays to Sundays or order takeout.

The Green Zone

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Middle Eastern ingredients go into the cocktails at this Adams Morgan bar born out of a long-running pop-up. The frozen lemonade brimming with fresh mint and vodka (or gin) is a can’t-miss. A menu of snacks like Syrian muhamarra or Lebanese falafel go well with any beverage. Lots of reggae helps foster a fun, loose atmosphere. Expanded patio seating, pickup, and delivery are all available.

Vodka and mint lemonade from Green Zone
Vodka and mint lemonade from Green Zone
Green Zone [official]

Jack Rose

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This multi-faceted Adams Morgan bar and restaurant boasts a whiskey list with literally thousands of options. 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. The Dram & Grain speakeasy in the basement has moved to the bottom floor of the Imperial, a massive sibling spot a few blocks south.

The wall of whiskey at Adams Morgan, with bottles and bottles stacked in rows behind the bar Jack Rose/official photo

Service Bar

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Service Bar draws a consistent crowd of regulars, visitors, and bar industry friends to U Street with inventive cocktails and friendly bartenders. During the pandemic the tiny bar took the party outside with seatings across a built-out patio. The drink menu is arranged by spirits and makes use of seasonal ingredients wherever possible. Fried chicken remains a fan favorite, and a recent update to the menu includes heartier entrees like steak frites and eggplant Parm. Order takeout here. The partners are opening an anticipated Peruvian restaurant, Chelita, coming to Blagden Alley this year.

Lulu’s Wine Garden

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Husband-and-wife team Paul and Brittany Carlson transformed wine bar Vinoteca into a communal drinking spot with a Southwestern vibe and nearly 50 wines availably by the bottle — all priced at $49. Chef-partner Cable Smith (Royal) designed a menu that features white queso with tostados and an open-faced pork belly pastrami sandwich. Chic outdoor seating areas frame the front and back of a leafy, brick-lined interior. Pickup and delivery from Caviar/Doordash are also available.

Bar Charley

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The go-to cocktail den from Jackie Greenbaum (Little Coco’s, soon-to-reopen Quarry House) unveiled a flower-filled back patio lined with umbrellas and string lights during the pandemic. The 70-seat, al fresco expansion hosts weekend brunch and dinner nightly, serving core classics like a wagyu beef burger and steak frites alongside a long list of cocktails and tiki drinks. Reserve a seat or order takeout.

McClellan's Retreat

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Named after a gentle Civil War general, this dim, date night staple in Dupont Circle has amassed a loyal following for barrel-aged cocktails and an eponymous Manhattan. Bar manager Brian Nixon’s seasonal menus, also spotted at Bloomingdale sister bar Truxton Inn, include tropical tipples and D.C.’s classic Rickey. Order takeout or reserve a seat online.

“I Painted A Picture Of A Butterfly” with Republic Restoratives Civic Vodka, cranberry honey shrub, cinnamon syrup, and prosecco.
McClellan’s Retreat/official photo

Dacha Beer Garden

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Beer lovers seek out this Shaw spot for its festive atmosphere and glass boots full of German beer. The taps are most loyal to Weihenstephaner, but there are also pours from locally owned Right Proper Brewing Company and DC Brau Brewing Company next to imports from Leffe and Warsteiner. Group chef Jerome Grant has begun remaking the dinner menu, adding short rib melts and crabby poutine alongside pretzels and doner kebabs. Pickup and delivery are also available. A sibling location in Navy Yard has an outdoor beer garden with an Airstream trailer selling all cans.

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Ivy and Coney

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Lined with lockers, this Chicago- and Detroit-themed dive perched above Shaw is a go-to for fans of the Cubs, Tigers, and Michigan sports teams. There are Detroit-style pizzas, curly fries, and ballpark dogs to go with cheap brews and pours of Jeppson’s Malört. Order takeout online or reserve a two-hour seat.

Cotton & Reed

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The bar at this rum distillery near Union Market is a popular gathering place for cocktails from well-established D.C. bar manager Lukas B. Smith. That includes a classic daiquiri and the Redbeard, made with with Cotton & Reed white rum, lime, Campari and ginger beer. The lime green Cocomotion, a frothy, fermented take on the piña colada, remains a top seller. Don’t be shy about ordering dry-spiced rum neat or on the rocks, either. Its tasting room and patio are open daily, and takeout is available here.

The popular gay bar in Logan Circle offers a “XL” happy hour daily until 8 p.m. with $5 beers and wines and $15 bottles and pitches. Walk up for to-go service or hang out on its lengthy back patio. Head upstairs to (unaffiliated) brick-lined Black Whiskey for a wide selection of the brown spirit.

Serenata

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Beverage director Andra “AJ” Johnson is the managing partner at this pan-Latin cocktail bar at the center of La Cosecha market. Happy hour around the bar (and at outdoor tables) includes $6 daiquiris from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Margaritas and a “Hotel Nacional” (aged rum, pineapple, apricot, lime) come in single serving or “flasks” for three with bites like empanadas and elote Caesar salads. Order online for takeout and delivery via third-party apps.

An Amazónica cocktail from Serenata
An Amazónica cocktail from Serenata
Maya Oren/For Serenata

Maxwell Park

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This Shaw wine bar comes from sommelier Brent Kroll, whose resume includes stints at (dearly departed) Proof and Iron Gate, among other esteemed restaurants. 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 truffled grilled cheese, charcuterie and other snacks to pair with the quality wines. Indoor and outdoor seating is also available at a second location in Navy Yard.

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

Republic Cantina

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Houston-area native Chris Svetlik has been building a community of Tex-Pats since he co-founded the Republic Kolache pop-up. His Truxton Circle cantina segues from coffee and some of the city’s best breakfast tacos by day into margaritas (agave or spicy) and “pico back” shots (pico de gallo juice and tequila) that accompany a dinner menu full of nachos, enchiladas, and fajitas. “Outlaw hour” (4 to 6 p.m.) brings $4 Modelo and $7 margs. Patio seating is available Wednesday to Saturday, or order takeout daily.

A margarita at Republic Cantina. Republic Cantina/official photo

Copycat Co.

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Copycat Co. founder Devin Gong does more than design drinks at his busy H Street cocktail bar. Gong’s bar menu schools customers in the history behind classic cocktails such as Manhattans, martinis, smashes, and mules. Chinese dumplings and grilled meat skewers are also available alongside textbook dry martinis. Reservations for seatings start at 5 p.m. daily, and takeout or delivery are available here. Astoria, Gong’s newer bar in Dupont, mimics Copycat’s drink list but serves a food menu full of Sichuan dishes.

An apple toddy served at Copycat Co. in 2015
CopyCat Co.
R. Lopez

Dubliner

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This family-run Irish pub near Union Station has been in business since 1974 and still serves perfect pours of Guinness. The iconic bar also boasts a proprietary Irish whiskey that goes down smooth, along with about 100 other Irish whiskeys to sample. Nightly live Irish music remains on pause during the pandemic, but diners can still get their fill on traditional dishes like corned beef and cabbage, fish and chips, and shepherd’s pie.

The wooden bar with dozens of bottles lined up in front of it at The Dubliner
The wooden bar with dozens of bottles lined up in front of it at The Dubliner
R. Lopez/Eater DC

Barmini

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There’s something dreamlike about the setting at José Andrés’s 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. Reserve a seat here.

ThinkFoodGroup/official photo

The Eastern

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The team behind Barrel expanded in Capitol Hill in 2019 with the debut of a mid-century style wine bar showcasing a strong cross-section of European labels picked by general manager and sommelier Robert Morin. Along with expected throwbacks (a Sazerac and Old Fashioned), the cocktail list includes lesser-known classics like a Kalimotxo, a mixture of red wine and Coca-Cola popular in the Basque region of Spain. Barrel chef Walfer Hernandez is also manning the menu at the Eastern, pairing drinks with an assortment of charcuterie, cheese, dips, salads, seafood, and sandwiches. Reserve a seat for indoor/outdoor dining.

The mid-century modern bar at the Eastern
The Eastern doesn’t take itself too seriously, with a big bottle of Miller High Life denoted as “Champagne service.”
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Tiki TNT & Potomac Distilling Company

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Nationally recognized mixologist Todd Thrasher’s massive endeavor on the Southwest Waterfront attracts tourists, locals, and service industry types alike. The multi-level tiki bar and happy hour spot offers cheeky, frozen rum and Coke in a can, classics like a Zombie or Mai Tai, and an extremely potent T.N.T. Problem Forgetter (bourbon and Thrasher’s spiced and over proof rum, apricot liqueur, coconut cream rum, honey and lime). Open Wednesday to Sunday, with distillery tours and tastings Tuesday to Saturday.

The upstairs bar at Tiki TNT
The upstairs bar at Tiki TNT
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Tequila & Mezcal

Bar manager Israel Mendez makes all the sweet, spicy, and sour syrups that go into cocktail glasses rimmed with chile de arbol-laced tajin spice or worm salt. This bar, just north of Columbia Heights, is part of the Taqueria Habanero group, which means chef Dio Montero came up with the food menu of regional Mexican entrees like braised pork ribs in black mole sauce. Pickup, delivery, and on-site dining are all available.

Tiki On 18th

Adams Morgan got a year-round slice of paradise in summer 2019 with a second-story beach bar above the Game Sports Pub. The tropical perch pairs a Polynesian-meets-Filipino menu with rum-heavy tiki drinks served in funky glassware. Order takeout or claim a seat on its wooden deck out front.

Franklin Hall DC

Located in the historic Manhattan Laundry Building, this cavernous American beer hall from design and management group Tin Shop (Tall Boy, Church Hall) draws regulars for 24 drafts, liter-sized pours, and flatbreads and jumbo soft pretzels to soak it all up. Reserve a seat inside or outside Thursdays to Sundays or order takeout.

The Green Zone

Vodka and mint lemonade from Green Zone
Vodka and mint lemonade from Green Zone
Green Zone [official]

Middle Eastern ingredients go into the cocktails at this Adams Morgan bar born out of a long-running pop-up. The frozen lemonade brimming with fresh mint and vodka (or gin) is a can’t-miss. A menu of snacks like Syrian muhamarra or Lebanese falafel go well with any beverage. Lots of reggae helps foster a fun, loose atmosphere. Expanded patio seating, pickup, and delivery are all available.

Vodka and mint lemonade from Green Zone
Vodka and mint lemonade from Green Zone
Green Zone [official]

Jack Rose

The wall of whiskey at Adams Morgan, with bottles and bottles stacked in rows behind the bar Jack Rose/official photo

This multi-faceted Adams Morgan bar and restaurant boasts a whiskey list with literally thousands of options. 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. The Dram & Grain speakeasy in the basement has moved to the bottom floor of the Imperial, a massive sibling spot a few blocks south.

The wall of whiskey at Adams Morgan, with bottles and bottles stacked in rows behind the bar Jack Rose/official photo

Service Bar

Service Bar draws a consistent crowd of regulars, visitors, and bar industry friends to U Street with inventive cocktails and friendly bartenders. During the pandemic the tiny bar took the party outside with seatings across a built-out patio. The drink menu is arranged by spirits and makes use of seasonal ingredients wherever possible. Fried chicken remains a fan favorite, and a recent update to the menu includes heartier entrees like steak frites and eggplant Parm. Order takeout here. The partners are opening an anticipated Peruvian restaurant, Chelita, coming to Blagden Alley this year.

Lulu’s Wine Garden

Husband-and-wife team Paul and Brittany Carlson transformed wine bar Vinoteca into a communal drinking spot with a Southwestern vibe and nearly 50 wines availably by the bottle — all priced at $49. Chef-partner Cable Smith (Royal) designed a menu that features white queso with tostados and an open-faced pork belly pastrami sandwich. Chic outdoor seating areas frame the front and back of a leafy, brick-lined interior. Pickup and delivery from Caviar/Doordash are also available.

Bar Charley

The go-to cocktail den from Jackie Greenbaum (Little Coco’s, soon-to-reopen Quarry House) unveiled a flower-filled back patio lined with umbrellas and string lights during the pandemic. The 70-seat, al fresco expansion hosts weekend brunch and dinner nightly, serving core classics like a wagyu beef burger and steak frites alongside a long list of cocktails and tiki drinks. Reserve a seat or order takeout.

McClellan's Retreat

“I Painted A Picture Of A Butterfly” with Republic Restoratives Civic Vodka, cranberry honey shrub, cinnamon syrup, and prosecco.
McClellan’s Retreat/official photo

Named after a gentle Civil War general, this dim, date night staple in Dupont Circle has amassed a loyal following for barrel-aged cocktails and an eponymous Manhattan. Bar manager Brian Nixon’s seasonal menus, also spotted at Bloomingdale sister bar Truxton Inn, include tropical tipples and D.C.’s classic Rickey. Order takeout or reserve a seat online.

“I Painted A Picture Of A Butterfly” with Republic Restoratives Civic Vodka, cranberry honey shrub, cinnamon syrup, and prosecco.
McClellan’s Retreat/official photo

Dacha Beer Garden

Official

Beer lovers seek out this Shaw spot for its festive atmosphere and glass boots full of German beer. The taps are most loyal to Weihenstephaner, but there are also pours from locally owned Right Proper Brewing Company and DC Brau Brewing Company next to imports from Leffe and Warsteiner. Group chef Jerome Grant has begun remaking the dinner menu, adding short rib melts and crabby poutine alongside pretzels and doner kebabs. Pickup and delivery are also available. A sibling location in Navy Yard has an outdoor beer garden with an Airstream trailer selling all cans.

Official

Ivy and Coney

Lined with lockers, this Chicago- and Detroit-themed dive perched above Shaw is a go-to for fans of the Cubs, Tigers, and Michigan sports teams. There are Detroit-style pizzas, curly fries, and ballpark dogs to go with cheap brews and pours of Jeppson’s Malört. Order takeout online or reserve a two-hour seat.

Cotton & Reed

The bar at this rum distillery near Union Market is a popular gathering place for cocktails from well-established D.C. bar manager Lukas B. Smith. That includes a classic daiquiri and the Redbeard, made with with Cotton & Reed white rum, lime, Campari and ginger beer. The lime green Cocomotion, a frothy, fermented take on the piña colada, remains a top seller. Don’t be shy about ordering dry-spiced rum neat or on the rocks, either. Its tasting room and patio are open daily, and takeout is available here.

Trade

The popular gay bar in Logan Circle offers a “XL” happy hour daily until 8 p.m. with $5 beers and wines and $15 bottles and pitches. Walk up for to-go service or hang out on its lengthy back patio. Head upstairs to (unaffiliated) brick-lined Black Whiskey for a wide selection of the brown spirit.

Serenata

An Amazónica cocktail from Serenata
An Amazónica cocktail from Serenata
Maya Oren/For Serenata

Beverage director Andra “AJ” Johnson is the managing partner at this pan-Latin cocktail bar at the center of La Cosecha market. Happy hour around the bar (and at outdoor tables) includes $6 daiquiris from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Margaritas and a “Hotel Nacional” (aged rum, pineapple, apricot, lime) come in single serving or “flasks” for three with bites like empanadas and elote Caesar salads. Order online for takeout and delivery via third-party apps.

An Amazónica cocktail from Serenata
An Amazónica cocktail from Serenata
Maya Oren/For Serenata

Maxwell Park

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

This Shaw wine bar comes from sommelier Brent Kroll, whose resume includes stints at (dearly departed) Proof and Iron Gate, among other esteemed restaurants. 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 truffled grilled cheese, charcuterie and other snacks to pair with the quality wines. Indoor and outdoor seating is also available at a second location in Navy Yard.

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

Related Maps

Republic Cantina