Beyond being one of the most iconic drinks in cocktail history, martinis bring a certain elegance to any situation, especially for customers who prefer their beverages on the savory side. This map makes no judgment on gin versus vodka, dry versus vermouth-heavy, or garnish debates that may determine what makes the ultimate martini. But it does stick to places that excel at classic versions rather than the sweeter (or more dressed-up) drinks that share the same name. For anyone craving an espresso martini — there are plenty of those out there right now, too.Read More
18 Places to Order a Martini in D.C.
Gin or vodka, olives or twist — all are on the table
This speakeasy (with bartenders from the former Sheppard) offers half-priced martinis (among other classics) during happy hour, which means they’re $7.
Find a flavorful twist on the martini here featuring Capitoline vermouth, za’atar olive brine, and sumac-sesame oil ($16).
Order a martini at Left Door, and the bartender will immediately ask you what gin-to-vermouth ratio you are looking for. The martini spin on their current cocktail menu, Revenge of the Gibson Girl, is a mixture of Beefeater, Dolin Dry Vermouth, Genepy, celery bitters, and a big onion they pickle themselves (be warned it’s on the sweeter side).
Annie's Paramount Steak House
This longtime gathering place for the gay community and the Dupont Circle neighborhood as a whole is known for martinis that are strong and generously portioned.
Though their tiki drinks have received more attention, Astoria has a full cocktail menu devoted to the classic, and they encourage variation in martini ordering, where customers can specify ratios, spirit, and garnishes, ask for the house version, etc. That house version is smooth and chilled, and goes down easily.
French restaurants are often a good bet for ordering a martini, and Convivial has a pretty interesting concoction in its Martini de la Mer. Spanish gin and dry vermouth find a pairing with anchovy and caper-washed sherry, and there’s also some olive oil in the mix ($13).
The martini service at this Kimpton relative newbie means for $21, martinis are brought tableside with a variety of garnishes. Choose from classics, dirty, various ratios, etc.
Never Looked Better
Though some high-end cocktail bars tend to get snobby about vodka, this newish speakeasy in Blagden Alley is anything but, going as far to divide its menu into “Vodka Has Never Looked Better” and “Not Vodka” sections. The bar’s dirty martini is accented with bleu cheese stuffed olives, and its French martini keeps things on the wet side (there are even some throwback spinoffs like an espresso martini and an appletini).
The lounge at this restaurant within the Four Seasons in Georgetown is one of D.C.’s classier locations to sip a martini, and the bartenders consistently serve well-executed versions. At one point, a truffle-accented dirty martini appeared on the cocktail menu.
Off the Record
One of D.C.’s best hotel bars (as well as a historical hangout for journalists), Off the Record is the place to order a generously-portioned martini if you’re looking for an old-school vibe.
Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
Miami transplant steakhouse Joe’s has lofty ceilings, a terrific happy hour, and bartenders who know how to make a good martini. Sadly, though, martinis aren’t currently featured on the half-priced classic cocktail menu during said terrific happy hour — but you can still pair one with discounted snacks and raw bar.
Old Ebbitt Grill
Old Ebbitt’s well-trained bartenders know their way around a number of classic cocktails, including the martini. Have one at the oyster bar during happy hour when raw bar items are half-priced.
Mastro’s is the rare place where they’ll shake the martini in front of you and leave what remains in the shaker behind for you to refresh your drink with later. Their signature spin on the cocktail is vodka-based, and garnished with bleu cheese-stuffed olives.
Situated in the depths of Penn Quarter’s Riggs hotel, this classy cocktail lair led by London’s world-famous bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana is back with its martini service for one ($21) or two ($40). There’s two options each for vodka or gin, served with an oyster, pickled onions, and lemon. Chetiyawardana’s version of choice? The fifty-fifty ratio of Fords Gin and Dolin vermouth. — Tierney Plumb
barmini by José Andrés
Find three different versions of a martini in the “classics” section of this avant garde bar’s drink menu. There’s a spin on the James Bond-themed Vesper, spiked with Kina, a classic dry martini, and a martini cocktail that adds sweet vermouth and orange liqueur to the mix.
The Grill has a fun “martini your way” section of its menu where diners can customize by spirit, style, garnish, etc. The cocktail menu also contains a traditional and “perfect” riff on the drink, as well as a spin on the James Bond-influenced Vesper cocktail.
The antipasto dirty martini sounds like a gimmick, but Caruso’s actually pulls it off. The martini itself isn’t too briny, and it’s surprising how nicely mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes work as less traditional garnishes here. The best part? It’s $10.