Where to Grab a Drink in DC Right Now
Cozy beer bars, opulent cocktail lounges, and more places to unwind.
Washington, DC is a city with many sides. There are luxury hotels next door to local watering holes. And breathtaking monuments alongside run-of-the-mill rowhouses. All of this makes for a vibrant place to find a drink.
Some of the District’s noteworthy bars of the moment include the revival of a craft beer favorite, a casual sports bar with Malaysian-inspired bites, and a sleek hotel bar. This list highlights some of the top 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 happy hour or an after-dinner nightcap in a luxurious speakeasy, there’s something for everyone on our list of the best bars in DC right now.
A cornerstone of Washington’s craft beer culture, ChurchKey reopened this past spring after a lengthy pandemic hiatus and hasn’t missed a step. The more than 50 temperature-controlled draft lines continue to feature local and global picks, from rare finds to crowd-pleasing flagships—and that’s not even including the massive bottle and can selection. A seat along the long bar is the place to talk shop with the bartenders, who are happy to offer samples and recommendations.
Lost Generation Brewing Company
Take a half-mile stroll up the Metropolitan Branch trail from the NoMa metro station and grab a taste of DC’s newest brewery. Lost Generation’s current menu features the Grave Shift dark lager, a comforting companion for cool weather, and you’ll find food trucks parked at the outpost a couple days a week. Steps from the trail, the location is most easily accessible by bike and has become a bustling pitstop for riders thanks to ample onsite parking.
Cocktails at this sleek hotel bar are elevated by an impressive inventory of housemade ingredients, from bitter liqueurs to infusions and syrups. Creations are thoughtfully developed and refined by bartender Lukas B. Smith, whose resume includes roles crafting drinks at Jack Rose Dining Saloon and Cotton & Reed.
The Thirsty Crow
Spice up the standard sports bar experience with chef James Wozniuk’s Malaysian-inspired menu and a refreshing craft cocktail or beer. A cold pint of the DC-brewed house Pilsner pairs well with a bowl of the fiery dan dan mian noodles or an order of char siu chicken wings, and there are plenty of TVs for catching a game. Sundays feature a special football menu with classics like hot wings, burgers, and fries.
Tucked away inside the Eaton Hotel lobby’s library, the drinks at this cocktail den take inspiration from books on the shelves nearby. The current menu, “Down the Rabbit Hole,” 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.
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 Fountain Inn
American history and fine spirits are at the center of this cozy Georgetown bar that serves as a revival of an historic 18th-century tavern. Rare liquors and knowledgeable staff are the specialties here, along with forgotten cocktails like the Syllabub, which dates from the 1600s. Come to sip through the extensive library, try a flight, or revel in the fact that you’re sitting in the same spot that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson tossed back their drinks.
How to book: Via Tock
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.
The Green Zone
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.
Jack Rose Dining Saloon
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.
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’ve done 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 or switch things up with one of the bar’s spirit-free creations like the vinegar-based Sherry Spritz.
Last Call is a no-frills dive where the beer is cheap (and cold) and simple vodka sodas get accented with squeezes of blueberry lemonade or strawberry watermelon flavoring. Gina Chersevani, a fixture of DC’s bartending community, has created a requisite party in the making, especially during the 5 to 7 pm daily happy hour, which offers draft Old Fashioneds and lemon drop shots for less than $5 each.
Morris American Bar
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
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.
Two dedicated Chartreuse taps show why this bar remains one of the city’s best. The Passenger is the kind of place you can get an expertly crafted martini alongside a cheap beer and whiskey combo. Bartenders are friendly and knowledgeable and the shelves are stocked with common and unique finds from both here and DC and far-flung destinations. Food is available for purchase from Qui Qui, the Puerto Rican kitchen upstairs.
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.
Service Bar DC
This U Street staple has been named one of the best bars in the world, and for good reason. On an average night, the space 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.
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. For example, take the Half-Smoke Rickey, mixed with fennel seed-infused gin, lime, herbal shrub, and soda. 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.
St. Vincent Wine
This hybrid bar, restaurant, store, and live music venue was inspired by Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits, a New Orleans bar known for its outstanding wine program and relaxed outdoor environment. The 4,000-square-foot patio is hugely popular during warm months, but indoor seating is ready and waiting when the winter chill takes hold. Wherever you end up, take some time to peruse the lengthy wine list served by the bottle. Other beverage options like beer, cider, and batched cocktails; plus you’ll find shareable plates and gorgeous charcuterie boards for snacking.
A rum-spiked oasis awaits at Tiny Tiki Bar, a gem of a spot in DC’s tropical drinks scene. Located beneath a Vietnamese restaurant, the space provides a relatively chill atmosphere despite its location just off 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.
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