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Barmini
R. Lopez

D.C.'s Essential Cocktail Bars

Where to go for a stiff drink

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Barmini
| R. Lopez

D.C.'s a great place to sip a Manhattan, martini or negroni. But it's also an excellent place to see bartenders get creative with unique spirits and interesting techniques. New bars featuring mixed drinks pop-up around town all the time. But these ones stand out as the city's key places to go for cocktails.

From high-end drinking destinations like the new Columbia Room and José Andrés' Barmini to great neighborhood cocktail destinations like Hank's on the Hill, Copycat Co. and Room 11, there's something for every price range and atmospheric desire. Find additions this time around like the city's top tiki bar and the triumphant return of The Passenger. And while neither really has a bar meant for casual drinking, it's worth noting that the addition of the talented Jeff Faile to the Rose's Luxury/Pineapple & Pearls team makes both of those restaurants worth a visit for serious cocktail aficionados. Not a cocktail drinker? Here's Eater's overall picks for top D.C. bars.

Here's a list of 18 essential cocktail bars to try today.

— Updated by Tierney Plumb

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. 2 Birds 1 Stone

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1800 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Adam Bernbach's playground below Doi Moi is a place to hold an actual conversation while sipping a cocktail that might have an Asian influence to it. The place also has interesting happy hours like its recent frappe hour during the summer months.
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2. Bar Pilar

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1833 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 265-1751
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Hemingway provides the inspiration for cocktails at this longtime favorite in Logan Circle.

3. barmini by José Andrés

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855 E St NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
(202) 393-4451
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Jose Andres' cocktail bar is atmospheric, with stark white walls, weird and mismatched furniture and bartenders on display giving theatrical presentations as they mix drinks both classic and new.

4. Bourbon Steak's Lounge

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2800 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20007
(202) 944-2026
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Bourbon Steak's big book of drinks is a mix of old favorites and new standbys.

5. Copycat Co.

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1110 H St NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 241-1952
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Devin Gong has worked to make this Atlas District bar an essential destination for classic cocktails. Its intense chalkboard menu changes regularly with different drinks and themes.

6. Hank's On The Hill

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633 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
(202) 733-1971
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Hank's is always an interesting place to drink, and is famous for its cleverly-named cocktails. The company's new Petworth bar Twisted Horn is also worth a visit for mixed drinks.
Official

7. Jack Rose Dining Saloon/Dram & Grain

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2007 18th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 588-7388
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Go to Jack Rose for whiskey. Move to the rooftop for tiki drinks. And head to Dram & Grain in the basement for experimental cocktails.
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8. Off the Record

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800 16th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20006
(202) 942-7599
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Off the Record is a very D.C. place to go for a Manhattan or a martini with a side of history.
Official
728 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 299-8385
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Watch Todd Thrasher do his magic at this speakeasy-inspired Alexandria bar, where the glassware is exquisite, the vibe is classy and the drinks are uniquely named and well-balanced.
Official

10. Room 11

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3234 11th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20010
(202) 332-3234
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Room 11 is Columbia Heights' longtime, cozy destination for cocktails.

11. Southern Efficiency

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1841 7th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
(202) 316-9396
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Whiskey cocktails are the focus at this bar, one of three Derek Brown operates on one street in Shaw.
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12. The Gibson

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2009 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20003
(202) 232-2156
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D.C.'s first speakeasy has always been a chill place to go for classic drinks.

13. The Gin Joint

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2317 Calvert St NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Gin is, of course, the focus of this underrated cocktail bar.

14. Wisdom

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1432 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
(202) 543-2323
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Wisdom specializes in gin (and has a great absinthe selection) but the bartenders there can fashion a well-made drink using just about any spirit.

15. Archipelago

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1201 U St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
This summer, a surge of tiki fans came out of the woodwork, and this U Street bar — with its arsenal of delicious drinks, wacky straws, ornate tropical cups, and strong rums at the ready — is always on tiki time. Don't forget to look for the shrine to Magnum PI.

16. Left Door

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1345 S St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
This classic watering hole from Tom Brown offers rare spirits, and well-crafted drinks in a range of prices. Its Victorian-influenced design has chandeliers and even a pulley to flush the toilet.

17. The Columbia Room

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124 Blagden Alley NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 316-9396
Visit Website
Derek Brown strikes again with the return of The Columbia Room, with scenic touches like a library room and punch garden, and an exclusive tasting room that adds flavor to the forward-thinking cocktails like This is Not a Rose.
Official

18. The Passenger

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1539 7th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
The beloved bar came back to life recently in a spot further up the street. Find the same great hangover brunch, plus new additions like chartreuse on tap.

1. 2 Birds 1 Stone

1800 14th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
Official
Adam Bernbach's playground below Doi Moi is a place to hold an actual conversation while sipping a cocktail that might have an Asian influence to it. The place also has interesting happy hours like its recent frappe hour during the summer months.
1800 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

2. Bar Pilar

1833 14th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
Hemingway provides the inspiration for cocktails at this longtime favorite in Logan Circle.
1833 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

3. barmini by José Andrés

855 E St NW, Washington, D.C. 20004
Jose Andres' cocktail bar is atmospheric, with stark white walls, weird and mismatched furniture and bartenders on display giving theatrical presentations as they mix drinks both classic and new.
855 E St NW
Washington, D.C. 20004

4. Bourbon Steak's Lounge

2800 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C. 20007
Bourbon Steak's big book of drinks is a mix of old favorites and new standbys.
2800 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20007

5. Copycat Co.

1110 H St NE, Washington, D.C. 20002
Devin Gong has worked to make this Atlas District bar an essential destination for classic cocktails. Its intense chalkboard menu changes regularly with different drinks and themes.
1110 H St NE
Washington, D.C. 20002

6. Hank's On The Hill

633 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, D.C. 20003
Official
Hank's is always an interesting place to drink, and is famous for its cleverly-named cocktails. The company's new Petworth bar Twisted Horn is also worth a visit for mixed drinks.
633 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, D.C. 20003

7. Jack Rose Dining Saloon/Dram & Grain

2007 18th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
Official
Go to Jack Rose for whiskey. Move to the rooftop for tiki drinks. And head to Dram & Grain in the basement for experimental cocktails.
2007 18th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

8. Off the Record

800 16th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20006
Official
Off the Record is a very D.C. place to go for a Manhattan or a martini with a side of history.
800 16th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

9. PX

728 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314
Official
Watch Todd Thrasher do his magic at this speakeasy-inspired Alexandria bar, where the glassware is exquisite, the vibe is classy and the drinks are uniquely named and well-balanced.
728 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314

10. Room 11

3234 11th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20010
Room 11 is Columbia Heights' longtime, cozy destination for cocktails.
3234 11th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20010

11. Southern Efficiency

1841 7th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20004
Official
Whiskey cocktails are the focus at this bar, one of three Derek Brown operates on one street in Shaw.
1841 7th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20004

12. The Gibson

2009 14th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20003
D.C.'s first speakeasy has always been a chill place to go for classic drinks.
2009 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20003

13. The Gin Joint

2317 Calvert St NW, Washington, D.C. 20008
Gin is, of course, the focus of this underrated cocktail bar.
2317 Calvert St NW
Washington, D.C. 20008

14. Wisdom

1432 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, D.C. 20003
Wisdom specializes in gin (and has a great absinthe selection) but the bartenders there can fashion a well-made drink using just about any spirit.
1432 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, D.C. 20003

15. Archipelago

1201 U St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
This summer, a surge of tiki fans came out of the woodwork, and this U Street bar — with its arsenal of delicious drinks, wacky straws, ornate tropical cups, and strong rums at the ready — is always on tiki time. Don't forget to look for the shrine to Magnum PI.
1201 U St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

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16. Left Door

1345 S St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
This classic watering hole from Tom Brown offers rare spirits, and well-crafted drinks in a range of prices. Its Victorian-influenced design has chandeliers and even a pulley to flush the toilet.
1345 S St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

17. The Columbia Room

124 Blagden Alley NW, Washington, D.C. 20001
Official
Derek Brown strikes again with the return of The Columbia Room, with scenic touches like a library room and punch garden, and an exclusive tasting room that adds flavor to the forward-thinking cocktails like This is Not a Rose.
124 Blagden Alley NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

18. The Passenger

1539 7th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20001
The beloved bar came back to life recently in a spot further up the street. Find the same great hangover brunch, plus new additions like chartreuse on tap.
1539 7th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

Related Maps