Contrary to popular belief, DC is more than a historic enclave steeped in power and politics — it’s a vibrant destination for creators and connoisseurs alike.
One of the best (and most refreshing) expressions of the city’s eclectic personality? Its spirits (literally…no pun intended). From high-end drinking haunts to inventive spots serving up classics with a twist, the city has something to accommodate every price point and taste.
So — without further ado, here are the best places to grab a cocktail in DC these days.
#1 The Gibson: After a long Covid-fueled hiatus, this influential DC cocktail bar reopened in full force last year in its original space off the corner of 14th and U streets. Still hidden behind an unmarked door, The Gibson remains a staple for pre-prohibition cocktails sipped 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.
#2 Allegory: Tucked away inside the Eaton Hotel lobby’s library, this cocktail den finally opened its doors again last summer — and not a drop too soon. 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.
#3 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 strikes a coveted 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.
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#4 Red Bear Brewing Co: Long known as a favorite local watering hole, Red Bear has become part of the fabric of its NoMa neighborhood thanks in large part to its lineup of events and out well-made 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.
#5 St. Vincent Wine: Looking for a place to sip and savor outdoors? 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 along with other beverage options like beer, cider, and batched cocktails — not to mention shareable plates and gorgeous charcuterie boards for snacking.
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