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The 10 Hottest New Bars in DC Right Now

By Olga Boikess
July 7, 2014
Photo by: Under a Bushel Photography

DC’s bar scene keeps getting hotter, with new ventures opening in up-and-coming neighborhoods and trendy spots upping their game with herb-infused cocktails, house-brewed beers and rare wines. Here are the latest entries to the scene for your summer bucket list.

  • Photo by: Rina Rapuano

    Barrel

    Why It’s Hot: Exposed brick and whiskey bottles stacked to the ceiling are part of the modern-rustic look at this remake of Capitol Hill’s 18th Amendment. Its laid-back vibe makes it the perfect after-work destination for its young crowd.

    Must-Drink: Barrel-aged cocktails ($12-$13), local craft brews ($6- $8) and craft bourbons ($6-$40 an ounce).

    Insider Tip: Happy-hour deals include $5 bourbons, cocktails, wines and beers. Don’t miss down-home snacks like fried chicken and pork sticky buns.

    613 Pennsylvania Ave. SE; 202-543-3622

  • Dram & Grain

    Why It’s Hot: There’s a cozy hideaway feel to this basement boîte in Adams Morgan’s Jack Rose Dining Saloon, but the cocktails the bartenders craft take cocktails to a whole new level. 

    Must-Drink: The Ode to Omaha infuses hickory smoke into the mixture of Thomas Tew rum, housemade blackberry-cinnamon syrup and Jerry Thomas bitters. It’s served in a corked glass orb, to really let the smoke infuse into the cocktail ($17).

    Insider Tip: It’s open Friday and Saturday only, with three nightly seatings, There's a two-drink minimum ($26-$34), and reservations are a must.

    2007 18th St. NW; 202-607-1572

  • High Velocity

    Why It’s Hot: This swank space ringed with TVs resides in the brand new, multimillion-dollar Marriott Marquis hotel.

    Must-Drink: Beer (48 on tap; $6-$10) and 10 Moscow mule variations ($11).

    Insider Tip: The menu covers all bar-food bases. Don’t expect fine dining.

    901 Massachusetts Ave. NW; 202-824-9200

  • Lyman’s Tavern

    Why It’s Hot: Old-school pinball machines, campy prints on the wall and a popcorn machine on the bar appeal to hipsters, while the affordable craft-beer selections make this casual spot a prime fit for this still-scrappy yet up-and-coming section of Columbia Heights.

    Must-Drink: One of the six draft lines features a DC Brau offering. Drafts run $3-$7 a pint.

    Insider Tip: The tables against the wall are jukebox-equipped. No need to get up to play your tunes.

    3720 14th St. NW; 202-723-0502

  • Photo by: Christopher Anderson

    Partisan

    Why It’s Hot: Chef Nathan Anda and the Red Apron talents turn out creative charcuterie and a meat-centric menu designed to pair with its sour-beer-heavy brews and creative cocktails. 

    Must-Drink: You can’t go wrong with a wine list curated by wine director Brent Kroll, a beer list ($6.50-$12) compiled by brew guru Greg Engert and a cocktail list (most $11) crafted by Jeff Faile — three of the most well-respected names in their chosen crafts.

    Insider Tip: The back room is designed for walk-ins, with high tops, a big bar and lots of standing room.

    709 D St. NW; 202-524-5322

  • The Pursuit

    Why It’s Hot: This inviting setting for wines by the glass and crafted cocktails is the first of its kind in the Atlas District. A romantic, loungey upstairs (with plush couches and love seats), plus an outdoor patio, makes it a great destination for dates and friendly gatherings.

    Must-Drink: Vino flights (around $11) and cocktails infused with housemade liquors ($10).

    Insider Tip: Custom grilled cheese sandwiches draw raves.

    1421 H St. NE; 202-758-2139

  • Rebellion

    Why It’s Hot: This watering hole in Dupont Circle East, popular with millennials, is inspired by a Colonial-era rebellion against the whiskey tax. Expect bourbon, beer and Southern comfort food, plus an old-school feel with whiskey-barrel tables and a wood-lined bar.

    Must-Drink: The Legacy, a signature drink, mixes Buffalo Trace with simple syrup, balsamic vinegar and ginger beer ($10).

    Insider Tip: The open-air roof deck, with its sparkling lights, is the place to be at night.

    1836 18th St. NW; 202-299-0399

  • Photo by: Under a Bushel Photography

    Red Light

    Why It’s Hot: Its corner location on sizzling 14 St. NW can’t help but be a major draw. And then there’s the something-for-every-craving menu, plus an appropriately saucy setting with red leather, crimson lighting and a buzzing patio.

    Must-Drink: The Peep-Show (genever, sloe gin, Pimms, cucumber water and ginger beer) is a refreshing summer sip.

    Insider Tip: Don’t skip dessert. Think Mexican chocolate tart and pale-ale beignets with stout-chocolate filling.

    1401 R St. NW; 202-234-0400

  • Smith Public Trust

    Why It’s Hot: Burgeoning Brookland’s latest watering hole offers a down-to-earth setting for the neighborhood's residents to bond over pints. 

    Must-Drink: Something from the draft-beer list, which leans heavily toward Belgian and IPA varieties, or a cocktail like the Malaysian Kei Smith, made with tequila, watermelon, basil, ginger and soda.

    Insider Tip: The wall decorations have an empire-building theme, in case you're puzzled.

    3514 12th St. NE; 202-733-5834

  • Photo by: Jody Brady

    Soi 38

    Why It’s Hot: This glamorous White House/World Bank setting is drawing raves for its authentic Thai food, but there's also a sophisticated after-work crowd who come mostly for the amazing drinks.

    Must-Drink: Menehune’s Painkiller ($12 for a single; $22 for a double). Magician mixologist JP Caceres may have left the country, sadly, but his slushy bowl — featuring Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, La Favorite Agricole Rhum, housemade coconut-orgeat syrup, pineapple juice, orange juice, yuzu and a garnish of grated nutmeg, served with a flaming half-lemon — reminds us of his genius.

    Insider Tip: The real-deal Thai street food is not to be missed.

    2101 L St. NW; 202-558-9215

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Places Mentioned

Barrel

Southern American • Capitol Hill

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Dram & Grain

Bar • Adams Morgan

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High Velocity

Sports Bar • Mount Vernon Square

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Lyman's Tavern

Bar • Petworth

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The Partisan

Penn Quarter/Chinatown

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Rebellion

American • Dupont Circle

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Red Light

Cocktail Bar • 14th Street Corridor

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Soi 38

Thai • White House/World Bank

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