Washington DC DC's ever-evolving drinking scene means there's always a new bar to try, but why limit yourself to just one bar when you could try five?! There’s something for everyone, ranging from a speakeasy that comes with an elevator attendant to approachable (i.e. no elevator attendant) neighborhood joints. Challenge: hit them all in one weekend!
Chaplin's Restaurant & Bar
Don’t lie -- you’ve always wanted to throw back dumplings at a 1920s Charlie Chaplin-themed bar lit aglow by flickering black-and-white movies. Chaplin’s menu features seven different kinds of ramen and even more dumplings (like one stuffed with NY strip that’s been soaked in Yamazaki 12-year Scotch for a week). The cocktails are from the Wilder Brothers, and one gurgles with voice-altering helium gas. It gets better -- soon they’ll launch an upstairs area dubbed "The Opium Den".
In Great Gatsby fashion, a green light beckons you to The Sheppard. It signals the speakeasy from Spike Mendelsohn is open and ready to serve you snacks and steep cocktails ($12-$18). Named for Senator Morris Sheppard, who was kind of a schmuck for banning booze in DC in 1917, the bar is velvety and dimly lit. Drinks range from classics like a Blood & Sand to a "Pick Your Poison", where Jack Caminos customizes a cocktail based on your whims. Bonus: there are 1970s Playboy magazines by the bathroom. They’re open Tue-Sat from 5pm-close at 1337 Connecticut Ave NW.
Smith Public Trust
If The Sheppard has an air of exclusivity, Smith Public Trust is everyman’s bar. It’s what the owner calls a "progressive space", studded with conversation piece artwork (from artist GAIA) like floating heads of notables like Benny Franklin and rapper Meek Mill. The bar food is quite elevated: duck breast Spring rolls, pork belly banh mi sammies, jerk shrimp satays, and the like. In addition to $10 craft cocktails with crazy names, there are also 12 beers on draft, primarily of the Belgian variety. Go ahead and post up at the bar for a good time -- it’s made out of old shipping containers.
Any bar that has gummy bears on offer already has plenty going for it, but there are also shot-and-a-beer combos and cocktails at A&D. Debuting soon is the Millions of Peaches cocktail, inspired by The Presidents of the United States of America, with rye whiskey, a lemon shell, peach liqueur, and ginger beer. Their snacks are perfect everyman fare: Frito pie, French bread pizza, nachos, and soft pretzels. If you’re too fancy for that, bring in a sandwich from SUNdeVICH -- it’s next door and from the same owners.
The Pursuit Wine Bar
H Street NE
Those pursuing an interest in wine should pop in here. With close to 45 wines by the glass, you can treat this new H Street wine bar as a personal laboratory for figuring out what you like. Four of them are on tap, because that’s a thing now. Not feeling it? There are also a handful of cocktails and beers, like a giant, 750ml Allagash Curieux. When you get hungry, you’ll be building your own grilled cheese.
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.
The green light will be on when this speakeasy from Spike Mendelsohn is open (Tue-Sat from 5pm-close) and ready to serve you snacks and steep cocktails ($12-$18).
SPT's got an elevated bar food menu with duck breast Spring rolls, pork belly banh mi sammies, and jerk shrimp satays alongside crazily named cocktails and a 12-tap draft list of mostly Belgian brews.
Shot-and-a-beer combos, gummy bars in little jars, cocktails named after '90s one-hit wonders, French bread pizza, and more make A&D a fantastic neighborhood bar in Shaw.
The Pursuit Wine Bar has 45 wines by the glass, a handful of cocktails and beers for those who aren't into wine, and build-your-own grilled cheese for everyone. If you stop by this weekend, you'll agree with us when we say that The Pursuit Wine Bar is one of the best wine bars in Washington DC.