Food & Drink

Gin? Bourbon? What DC bar does your favorite booze best

Laura Hayes Published On 11/27/2013 Published On 11/27/2013
Bars that do your booze best Washington DC
Laura Hayes

Congratulations. Your friends describe you as loyal… to a single spirit (and to them... well, most of the time). To appeal to your one-liquor-loving nature (or better yet, desire for the best of a BUNCH of boozes), we scoured DC to find out which bar does each one the best. Most are equally equipped for indoctrinating newbies with a flight or impressing die hards with rare selections and deep-cut knowledge.

Laura Hayes

Gin: The Gin Joint
Woodley Park
"The best friend I don’t talk to anymore," is how gin magician Nicole Hassoun describes Leopold’s -- one of two 114-proof navy strength gins she’s acquired since they became legal in the US last year. While 18th century sailors needed proof their gunpowder would still ignite, you can take Nicole at her word. Try it, or mix and match nine house-made tonics with 65 different gins. It's not just a catchy name.

Laura Hayes

Vodka: Mari Vanna
Dupont Circle
The drink delivery system at Mari Vanna involves a lot of stirring. They have 16 types of infused vodkas that take about a month and half to come together, ranging from oats & honey and cucumber dill to every edible berry on earth. Try them in quantities ranging from a shot ($7) to a liter ($125) with more sensible options in between. Although a liter of pumpkin vodka will surely make Thanksgiving dinner more tolerable.

Laura Hayes

Rum: Hogo
Mt. Vernon
Hogo is a refined tiki bar by Tom Brown that thankfully looks nothing like a Billabong surf shop. The baller move? The History of Rum flight, which includes a sip of Black Tot -- the rum of choice for the British Royal Navy until 1970 when they outlawed booze onboard. The remaining rum was stored in a clay amphora, which halted all aging. It's a much cooler time capsule find than those Troll dolls you buried in 4th grade.

Laura Hayes

Whisky: Jack Rose Dining Saloon
Adams Morgan
Whether it's Scotch or bourbon you're after, this is the move. Yes. They have Pappy Van Winkle (10, 12, 15, 20, and 23 year). If that’s all you care about, FINE. But, Bill Thomas, Jack Rose owner and whisk(e)y librarian, showed us some other exciting toys. Jack Rose belongs to the Malt Whisky Society -- which bottles and sells single cask, single malt whiskys to its members only. The bottle keeps the distillery a secret so you can focus on flavor. Also, check out the draft system in their whisky cellar.

El Centro D.F.

Tequila: El Centro D.F.
Georgetown
If you prefer your tequila in a proper cocktail (or better yet, sipped neat) rather than LMFAO-style, head to Georgetown, where El Centro's tequilador Rob Day can guide you through his commanding list of 250 tequilas and 50 Mezcals. But he’ll likely point you to Casa Noble Reposado because in an era of all things local, he digs that the owners live in Georgetown.

Laura Hayes

Sherry: Mockingbird Hill
Shaw
Spain has a snobby side. Much like Champagne, Sherry can only be called Sherry if aged in one of three little towns. Sherryista Chantal Tseng serves up some serious education (!) along with her expertly crafted flights. The fortified wine actually has 307 aromatic compounds like oyster shells and bitter almond, so there's a lot of ground to cover. Edgar Allen Poe would urge you to try more than just the Amontillado. If he was alive.

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1. The Gin Joint 2317 Calvert St NW, Washington, DC 20008 (Woodley Park)

Located under New Heights Restaurant in Woodley Park, The Gin Joint is home to 65 different gins and nine house-made tonics for your sipping pleasure.

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2. Mari Vanna 1141 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036 (West End)

According to a Slavic legend, Mari Vanna was a warm-hearted grandmother known to welcome in hungry travelers for a meal. But who really believes anything Vlade Divac says anyway? Instead, experience her for yourself by chowing down on authentic Russian vittles in what looks like Moscow's version of Antiques Roadshow: dangling chandeliers, plush armchairs, and Russian tchotchkes.

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3. Hogo 1017 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 (Mount Vernon Sq)

Hogo is an upscale diner that stays open until around 2:30 AM. The interior homes some unique decorations that range from topless mermaids to giant tapestries of Zombie Elvis.

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4. Jack Rose Dining Saloon 2007 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (Adams Morgan)

With over 2,400 kinds of whiskey lining the brick walls of this high-end saloon, Jack Rose has one of the largest whiskey libraries in the country. The spacious, bi-level Adams Morgan establishment offers a relaxed dining experience downstairs, and a spot to enjoy drinks and watch sports upstairs. Food-wise, the fried chicken skins are a fan favorite, and more adventurous items like rabbit & beans, wild Atlantic rockfish, or Broken Arrow Ranch venison make the staff's expert cocktail pairings an absolute pleasure.

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5. El Centro D.F. 1819 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (U Street)

Seeking a new adventure, the masters behind Masa 14 opened Centro to challenge themselves to capture the energy of Mexico City. That energy, apparently, comes straight from superb tacos and tequila. With three floors of raw concrete, walls adorned with Aztec masks, and tables glossed with vintage Mexican newspapers, Centro is undoubtedly a success -- and that's before we even talk about the menu, which features great fish tacos, chicken tamales, and a host of tequila tasting menus. Mexico City rules.

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6. Mockingbird Hill 1843 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 (Shaw)

Sherry and ham are what you'll find at the stained-oak Spanish bar, Mockingbird Hill. In addition to the 90 sherries on the menu, Mockingbird Hill offers cuts of American and Spanish hams, small bites like deviled eggs, and toasted bread, with toppings like garlic, tomatoes, and Manchego. If you’re new to sherry, Mockingbird Hill’s staff will give you all the insight you need to find the perfect pairing with your snacks.

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