Washington DC
1. Southpaw Baltimore
Fells Point

Good things come to those who wait. That’s certainly how we feel about Southpaw, which opened on a Fells Point corner after a couple years of COVID-related delays. Opened by Baltimore bar veteran Doug Atwell, this no-frills neighborhood spot is exactly what you want in a bar: well-executed classic cocktails (like a Last Word and a Smoky Negroni), cheap canned beer from local breweries, a stunner of a jukebox in the corner, and the Orioles playing on TV. Future plans include a full food menu, but for now we’re happy to snack on Zapp’s chips and sip on a Key Brewing pils.

2. Church Bar
Old Goucher

Between Fadensonnen and Dutch Courage (see below), Old Goucher is becoming a bar destination—and Church Bar is the latest reason to head to the neighborhood. Founded by hospitality pro Chelsea Gregoire, the space hints at a theological theme, but think more community and less communion. The bar will act as a gathering space for the surrounding area, as well as a great place to sip modern twists on classic cocktails, like the Golden Gate, a gin drink with vegetal notes and a Chartreuse wafer, or The Host, a large-format martini served tableside for 4-5 guests. Rotating resident chefs will serve everything from Carribean fare to vegan options. Most importantly, Church Bar is reimagining the service model by offering higher wages, a tip pool system, and educational enrichment to its staff. A welcome addition, indeed.

3. Market Bar
Govans

Belvedere Square Market has experienced a huge renaissance over the last 15 years, anchored by bakery and cafe Atwater’s, smoked food specialists Neopol, and wine bar Grand Cru. Now, a recent renovation has brought us Market Bar, an open and airy gathering space with communal tables to enjoy all the food the market has to offer, as well as a full-service bar featuring specialty cocktails, high-quality wine, and craft beer. We especially appreciate the organic wine on tap, with two different sized pours, and the fact that you can easily pick up a bottle next door before you leave.

4. The Cocktail Gallery
Medfield

What started out as a tiny distillery then graduated to a larger warehouse space has now expanded once again with its very own cocktail bar. The creative minds behind Baltimore Spirits Company—known for the popular Shot Tower Gin and signature Epoch Rye—have transformed a neutral space inside Union Collective into an intimate, artful bar experience. A light sculpture by artist Greg St. Pierre bathes the entire space in ambient pink and violet while guests can sip on inventive cocktails from bar manager Hannah Baker. Try the gorgeous Matchadieu made with barrel-aged gin, yuzu, green tea, and rose syrup while you peruse local art on the walls.
How to book: Seating is first come, first served and the bar is open Thursday through Sunday

5. The Manor
Mt. Vernon

Set in a beautiful building that once housed the historic Brass Elephant restaurant, The Manor had the unfortunate timing of opening at the beginning of 2020. While most of its life as a bar and lounge has been on hold, The Manor has been able to have some fun this spring and summer with Baltimore Pride events and weekend drag brunches. Though there are many spaces to enjoy, the spacious marble bar upstairs is an ideal place to sip classic cocktails, or ones with a fun twist—like Moira’s Rose featuring earl grey tea and hibiscus syrup or the Oaxaca Old Fashioned with blanco tequila and mezcal.

6. Dutch Courage
Old Goucher

Opened by two former bartenders from B&O American Brasserie, this luxe rowhouse bar is a gin lover’s dream. Though a full bar is available, the juniper-laced spirit is the star of the show and there are more than 100 varieties and a beautiful cocktail book (including stellar NA options!) to change any skeptic’s mind. After pivoting in the pandemic, DC now also acts as a bottle shop and seats guests both indoors and in a spacious and tented courtyard out back. Don’t sleep on the food, including deviled eggs, toasts, and a vegetarian muffaletta.

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