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, grab a rare beer at Churchkey, or indulge in a frozen, minty hard lemonade at Green Zone, there’s no shortage of standout bars around the District.Read More
18 Essential Bars in D.C.
Head here to sip the finest beers, wines, and cocktails around town
Breadsoda Bar, Deli & Billiards
Glover Park is home to this chill basement hangout filled with pool tables, shuffle board, darts, good beer and a menu anchored by solid deli sandwiches and bar snacks. Happy hour drinks are $5 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily, and its patio tables are prime real estate for neighborhood people watching (maybe with a frozen cocktail) when the weather’s nice.
The Green Zone
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.
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 views of bustling 18th Street NW below. The food menu features Southern comfort fare such as deviled eggs and crispy chicken skins. Jack Rose’s beloved basement bar Dram & Grain recently resurfaced under next-door sibling spot Imperial.
Service Bar was recently recognized as one of the top 50 bars in North America for its inventive cocktails and friendly, knowledgeable staff. It’s no surprise it draws a consistent crowd of regulars, visitors, and bar industry friends to U Street NW. The drink menu is arranged by spirits and makes use of seasonal ingredients wherever possible. Fried chicken remains a fan favorite, as do the $7 happy hour specials that include Old Fashioneds and classic daiquiris.
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.
The Passenger is the move for a straightforward (and damn good cocktail) without the over-the-top gimmicks and tricks. Drink specials are scribbled on a chalkboard menu and the bartenders are happy to mix up just about anything from the impressive bottle selection. There’s a beer list with a handful of local picks, and Puerto Rican is available from Qui Qui upstairs.
The popular gay bar in Logan Circle offers an “XL” happy hour daily until 8 p.m., featuring supersized mixed drinks along with $5 beers and wines. Regulars gather for weekly TV show watch parties, DJ nights, and other events.
Last Call Bar
Housed inside a graffiti-tagged brick building, Last Call is cocktail ace Gina Chersevani’s dream dive bar, complete with affordable drinks and a no judgement vibe. Drinks include party starters like $3 Jell-O shots along with an $8 draft old fashioned and fun combos like the $10 hard seltzer and Fireball pairing.
Beverage director Andra “AJ” Johnson is the managing partner at this pan-Latin cocktail bar at the center of La Cosecha market. The varied drink menu has a particular focus on tequila, mezcal, rum and other ingredients from around South and Central America.
After an extended pandemic closure, the more than 50 draft lines at Chuchkey are flowing again, much to the delight of beer fans across the city. The brews, which touch on all styles and regions, are curated by beer director Greg Engert, who shapes the suds menus across Neighborhood Restaurant Group projects, including Bluejacket, Shelter at the Roost, and the annual Snallygaster festival. Snacks, sandwiches and tavern-style pizzas make it easy to build a meal while sipping.
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.
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. Astoria, Gong’s newer bar in Dupont, mimics Copycat’s drink list but serves a food menu full of Sichuan dishes.
Acclaimed mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana, known as Mr. Lyan, chose Washington and the posh Riggs Hotel as the location for his first U.S. bar. The red plush underground lounge is fit for a luxe night out. And many of the drinks, like the fennel seed gin-infused Half-Smoke Rickey, have a local inspiration.
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 is back on the schedule, and traditional dishes like corned beef and cabbage, fish and chips, and shepherd’s pie fill out the menu.
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. Reservations and a deposit are required to access the lengthy menu featuring more than 100 classic and experimental cocktails. There’s the option to choose a flight. 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. A carved-out apple filled with bourbon is also a possibility. Small snacks that appeal to gourmands are also available.
The team behind Barrel (itself worth a visit for all things bourbon and whiskey) 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. Cocktails make an appearance, too, including classics like the Sazerac and New York sour. 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.
Tiki TNT & Potomac Distilling Company
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 overproof rum, apricot liqueur, coconut cream rum, honey, and lime).
Solace Outpost Navy Yard
Fresh brews and waterfront views (with plenty of outdoor seating) make Solace Outpost an ideal stop while exploring Navy Yard, game day or not. Born out of Northern Virginia, the beer menu is heavy on IPAs, with a couple lagers and seasonal picks sprinkled throughout. There are even a few “beer-tails” on the menu, including a fruity, fizzy twist on the Hurricane. The kitchen’s menu features typical pub fare like burgers, brats, and tots, alongside some healthier options.