There are some big advantages to the cocktails-on-tap trend. For starters, you no longer have to wait for a bartender to shake, stir, muddle, or precisely adorn your beverage with candied hibiscus leaves or whatever. Also, you don't have to wait on any of that stuff when you get a second drink, either.
Here are six DC spots hooking you up with serious cocktails on tap:
The newest draft cocktail to debut at what was once DC’s oldest restaurant is I Bet on Sky. It doubles up on booze, which a bonus. The recipe calls for rum, mescal, vermouth, Zucca, and chocolate bitters. More traditional? There’s also a Negroni Bianco with gin, Cocchi Americano, and Dolin Blanc, but only until summer calls it quits.
Two words: kegged lemonade. These elixirs are far more complex than the stuff you hawked when you were a 7-year-old roadside entrepreneur. There are four different versions, like a gin lemonade with Batavia arrack, grilled lemon, honey, thyme, and soda. Pictured is the Mastiha lemonade made with liquor from an evergreen tree, watermelon, lemon, and tarragon. Try them for $12 anytime, or for an impressive $7 during happy hour (5-7pm Mon-Fri). Or, grab some friends and get a pitcher for $44.
Picture yourself posting (!) up in the Poste courtyard for a draft cocktail or two, like That Ginger is a Peach, with bourbon, peach nectar, and Osterweis Hard Ginger Beer. Extra points for drinking one with a redhead. Once summer slips into fall, they’ll be tapping their Basil Lemontini.
There’s only one cocktail on draft at the West End’s fiery Thai spot, but it’s a good one! JP Caceres has concocted the perfect Singapore Sling with gin, Luxardo cherry, Benedictine, clarified lime, chili aromatic bitters, sloe gin, and pineapple juice. Where else can you get a glass with that many ingredients in a matter of seconds? One sip is like going on an exotic vacation with Shirley Temple.
This new spot boasts one of the largest draft cocktail programs out there. Currently there are six choices, but that number is about to double. Top picks include A Woman of Paris, with rye whiskey, Peychaud’s bitters, Wilder Bros lemon peel gomme syrup, and an absinthe rinse. Then there’s The Vagabond with Tom Cat gin, Pimms, blanc vermouth, cucumber water, lemon, ginger beer, and mint bitters. It’s super refreshing, and probably the right thing to drink while playing cricket. With this many draft cocktails, you’ll never find yourself three people-deep at the bar while trying to order.
It’s all about tiki on tap at this AdMo cocktail haunt. The Suffering Bastard boasts gin and bourbon, plus house ginger beer, Angostura bitters, and lime. The second drink is a little more tropical. Their Mai Tai is an elixir of aged and dark rums, orange Curaçao, orgeat, and lime. Caution, these strong drinks will kick you in your grass skirt.
This is easily one of the most beautiful restaurants in DC. From the lamp-lit stone entryway to the back courtyard complete with a gazebo, Iron Gate in Dupont Circle was made for dining al fresco. Chef Anthony Chittum has been in DC for a long time, winning multiple awards along the way, and his understated Mediterranean dishes are made just right. Wine Director Brent Kroll’s tightly curated wine list pairs perfectly with the food, focusing on Greek and Italian varietals. Ask for a table out back in the courtyard, go all-in with Chef Chittum’s tasting menu, then just point to the wine list and order a bottle.
Chef Mike Isabella's 14th Street Corridor restaurant is a go-to for upscale but reasonably priced Greek food. Open for dinner nightly and brunch on the weekends, Kapnos serves a small-plates menu of spreads, mezze, phyllo pies, and whole roasted meats like lamb, goat, duck, chicken, and suckling pig. There's plenty of seafood as well, given that wood-fire grilled octopus is the house signature. The wine list is stacked with red and whites from Greece and kegged lemonades.
Poste has you covered for delicious local beers and craft cocktails ON TAP, like the "That Ginger is a Peach" -- made with bourbon, peach nectar, and Osterwies Hard Ginger Beer.
If you're wanting real, authentic Thai food, this is the place to be -- chowing down under a mural of creatures created by Baltimore street artist Gaia. The sweetness of Thai-American cuisine is spared here to give you the powerful Thai found on Bangkok's Sukhumvit Soi 38 avenue in dishes like kor moo yang (grilled pork neck in lime and chili sauce) and tom yum kradook moo (spicy lemongrass soup with bone-in spare ribs and chili).
This Charlie Chaplin-themed bar, featuring a movie poster-style mural of the man himself, serves inventive drinks from the Wilder Cocktail Brothers alongside a large selection of ramen and dumplings. Two solid choices the Chaplin A.S.S. bowl, which brings together Asian spicy sour chicken, scallions, lemongrass, coconut milk, red chili paste, and pork butt, and, on the dumplings side, the chicken & shrimp shumai with water chestnut, garlic, onion, and oyster sauce.
This Adams Morgan spot specializes in variations on cocktail classics, including 15 different Manhattan recipes. Many of the bar’s drinks cost $10 or less, including the rotating draft Tiki cocktails for under $8. While you wouldn't necessarily come here for the food, shareable bites like flatbreads and fries are worthy orders.