The Absolute Best Bars in Washington, DC Right Now

From casual wine bars to tasting rooms where you can dive into a single spirit, here are the best places to grab a drink in DC right now.

After a rough winter of managing COVID-19 related hurdles, DC bars are looking toward warmer and (hopefully) more normal days ahead. That being said, supporting local bars has never been more important.

So we’ve updated this list to highlight some of the best bars in the city while also shining a spotlight on new openings that you’d be remiss to skip. Whether you’re looking for a spot for a comfortable al fresco happy hour or an after-dinner nightcap in a luxurious cocktail bar space, there’s something for everyone on our list of the best bars in DC right now.

The Gibson

U Street

Once thought to be another pandemic casualty, this influential DC cocktail bar reopened last year in its original space off the corner of 14th and U streets. Still hidden behind an unmarked door, The Gibson remains a go-to reservation for pre-prohibition cocktails in a quiet, dimly-lit atmosphere. Drinks rotate seasonally, and the staff is always prepared to mix up something off-menu or offer a suggestion from the vast selection of spirits on hand.

Available for Reservations

Hanging out at the bar is better with activities, and there’s tons of entertainment at this spacious boardwalk-themed escape. A sister to the Penn Quarter location, the Wharf’s two-level space is tricked out with shuffleboard, Skee-Ball, classic arcade games, and TVs. Three bars in the space churn out drinks that play off the beachy vibes, with options like a candy apple spritz, a Coney Club, and a “Bae” watch shooter. There’s also a wide section of craft beers, including local picks like DC Brau’s Penn Quarter Porter and Atlas Brew Works’ Bullpen Pilsner, along with plenty of snacks you’d find on a summertime boardwalk like corn dogs, seasoned popcorn in a variety of flavors, and even cotton candy.
How to book: Walk in

Jane Jane

Logan Circle

The team at Jane Jane set out to evoke homestyle Southern dinner party hospitality in the middle of one of DC’s busiest nightlife neighborhoods. And they successfully did just that. Fill your table with orders of pigs in a blanket or spinach and artichoke dip while sipping on approachable, well-made cocktails featuring all varieties of spirits.
How to book: Walk in

Allegory

Downtown

Tucked away inside the Eaton Hotel lobby’s library, this cocktail den reopened last summer after a long pandemic hiatus. The drinks take their inspiration from books on the shelves nearby and the decor includes lots of books to gaze at as you sip. The current menu is themed around the whimsy of Alice in Wonderland and features Seeds of Destruction, a classic martini that’s been transformed into poppable “caviar” spheres, as well as the Mad as a Hatter, which riffs on the El Presidente using butter fat-washed tequila instead of rum.
How to book: Walk-in only

Astoria
Photo Courtesy of RON NGIAM

Astoria

Dupont Circle

This cocktail bar is a visual stunner, with brass finishes and deep blue velvet seats that give it an expensive, art deco feel. The fun illustrated menu features a handful of tiki cocktails (including an oversized watermelon zombie to share) and riffs on the classics that can be enjoyed inside or on the bar’s heated patio. The Chinese-inspired food menu is also worth a look, as many of the dishes come straight from owner Devin Gong’s restaurant Copycat Co.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Available for Reservations

Chacho Spirits

Manor Park

Jalapeno-infused aguardiente fuels the cocktails at this Manor Park bar and distillery. The sugar cane spirit is similar to rum and a favorite drink in Colombia, where owner Dan Ziegler found his inspiration. His variation of the spirit, named Chacho, has a spicy kick that still manages to be super drinkable whether you opt to try it neat, on the rocks, or mixed into a proper cocktail. The bar features some simple ways to enjoy Chacho, including in a margarita or mule, along with more intricate recipes. Tours and tastings are available on-site as well.
How to book: Via website

The Green Zone

Adams Morgan

This Middle Eastern craft cocktail bar churns out truly inventive cocktails, so it’s no wonder it has been a favorite since it opened in 2018. The drink list also explores ingredients like saffron and puts an Arab twist on cocktails like the Sazerac and the Jungle Bird for a menu that’s unlike any other in the city. And, let’s face it, the [bleep] Trump punch is a no brainer.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Available for Reservations

Let’s start with the obvious: Jack Rose’s whiskey selection is absolutely bonkers. The bar’s nearly 2,700-bottle inventory is one of the most diverse collections of the spirit on this side of the Atlantic. The visual of all these glass vessels lining the walls of the spacious first-floor dining room—and the bookshop ladders required to reach them—is a sight to behold. But what’s most remarkable about Jack Rose is the attention it gives to almost everything else. The beer and cocktail programs are also excellent, and you can enjoy it all inside the bar or on the open-air terrace.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Available for Reservations

Morris American Bar

Mt. Vernon Square

Just around the corner from the convention center, Morris American Bar has become a reliable destination for both classic cocktails and original creations. The atmosphere manages a balance between comfortable and refined, suitable both for a date night or a round of drinks with friends. Check out its social media for frequent specials, including food pop-ups and themed menus.
How to book: Via website

OKPB

Mount Pleasant

Fans of the DC bar scene may remember barman David Strauss from The Sheppard, the beloved Dupont Circle speakeasy that shuttered in 2019. Luckily, he’s back again, mixing a daily menu of inspired cocktails in an unassuming space in Mount Pleasant that’s quickly becoming one of the city’s best speakeasies. Plan on arriving early or be prepared to wait for a table at this snug spot—and make sure to double check the address before ringing the doorbell as there’s no signage out front.
How to book: Walk in

Just a short walk from the NoMa metro station, Red Bear has become part of the fabric of its neighborhood, hosting regular events and churning out well-made and unique brews. Flagships include the 51st State hazy IPA and the DC Dirt American Porter. Hard seltzer is often on the tap rotation along with experimental and seasonal inspirations, so take your pick, grab a board game, and settle into a spot indoors or on the large patio.
How to book: Walk in

Serenata

Union Market

As part of the La Cosecha market, Serenata is a cocktail bar where owners say each menu item is inspired by “the many countries that make up the fabric of the rich Latin American heritage.” Each cocktail on the menu relates to a country that inspired the drink. For the warmer months, the bar is operating a mobile cart outside the market that will serve spritzes made with South American ingredients.

Available for Reservations

On an average night, this U Street staple is filled to the brim with industry folks (or anyone looking for a good time, really) drinking some of the best cocktails in town. The book-long menu has every classic cocktail you could rattle off, tiki drinks, and even a crowd-pleasing Miller High Life pony and shot combo, all at good-for-DC prices.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Available for Reservations

Silver Lyan

Penn Quarter

Nicknamed “Mr. Lyan,” London-based Ryan Chetiyawardana is one of the world’s most influential bartenders, and his bars have won numerous awards thanks to a commitment to quality, sustainability, and guest experience. Silver Lyan is Chetiyawardana’s first bar in the US, located in an old bank vault beneath the swanky Riggs Hotel in Penn Quarter. Drinks here take inspiration from both the District’s international influences and its role as the American capital. The Bases Loaded is a popular order, blending Maker’s Mark bourbon with lemon, golden whey, and a chokecherry float. For an all-out experience, order up the Jello Fruit Basket, a shareable platter of fruit-shaped jello shots inspired by classic cocktails like the martini and the tequila sunrise that comes with shots of champagne to boot.
How to book: Via website

DC’s newest rooftop bar is ready for guests to sip cocktails and soak up sought-after views of the Capitol Building dome and the surrounding neighborhood. Head up to the 11th floor of the AC Hotel for upscale drinks like a smoked paloma or the bar’s namesake drink mixed with Macallan 12 whisky. There’s indoor and outdoor seating and a menu of modern American food with both small and larger plates like diver scallops, baked crab fondue, and more.

Available for Reservations

Drinking at a bar in these times often means looking for ample outdoor space. Luckily, this new wine bar fits the bill. The 4,000 square foot patio that serves as a hybrid bar, restaurant, store, and, eventually, live music venue was inspired by Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits, a New Orleans bar known for its outstanding wine program and relaxed outdoor environment. Here you’ll find a lengthy wine list served by the bottle; other beverage options like beer, cider, and batched cocktails; and shareable plates and gorgeous charcuterie boards for snacking.

Available for Reservations

Tiny Tiki

U Street

A rum-spiked oasis awaits at Tiny Tiki Bar, the newest spot in DC’s tropical drinks scene. Located beneath a Vietnamese restaurant, the space provides a relatively chill atmosphere despite its location along the bustling U Street corridor. The tropics-inspired menu includes familiar drinks like the Mai Tai and the Saturn along with original riffs and a list of rums and spirits. No matter what you order, you’re in for a warming treat—maybe even in the literal sense with a beverage that’s set aflame right in front of you.
How to book: Walk in

The Wells

Capitol Hill

This chic cocktail bar proves that gin is so much more than its juniper-forward reputation. Drinks here celebrate the spirit in all its variations, from bright and citrusy to dry and piney. The menu changes seasonally but includes martinis, negroni riffs, and more, but skilled bartenders can also create unique drinks to satisfy any craving or pull from the selection of non-gin liquor, beer, and wine. Bar seating offers a peek at the varied inventory, which features bottles from around the world, while the cozy sofa nooks provide a more intimate experience.
How to book: Via Tock

Available for Delivery/Takeout
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Travis Mitchell is a DC-based food and drink writer. Follow his travels and eating adventures on Twitter at @travisjmitchell and Instagram at @_travisjmitchell.