New & Hot Places

Hottest Bars in DC

It's a great time to go out for drinks in DC, thanks to a fresh crop of bars throughout the city. Along with the long-anticipated return of Tom Brown's beloved cocktail den, The Passenger, now settled into its new Shaw location, there's a rooftop with killer views, an ode to New Orleans and plenty of offerings for wine lovers. Here are the 10 hot spots to hit next time you're looking to wet your whistle.

Cotton & Reed

NewNoMa
Taking its name from its co-founders, this rustic-industrial Union Market–area tasting room with an on-site distillery focuses on white rum and a dry spiced rum made with a botanical blend. Served at the tiled bar, the inventive cocktails spotlight the spirits as well as house-made spirits, tonics and syrups.

Must-order: The Redbeard, a blend of rum, Campari, ginger and lemon
Insider tip: Check the calendar on the website for info on tours and events, like a hands-on screen-printing class (with a cocktail, of course).

Service Bar DC

NewU Street Corridor
Backed by a team with bar and restaurant bona fides, this North Shaw hangout pours an ever-changing lineup of unique craft cocktails, paired with fried chicken–themed nibbles. The funky blue-accented space features wacky artwork and an intimate 6-seat 'snug room' inspired by 18th-century British pubs, with its own drinks list.

Must-order: Baked apple and pear gin and tonic
Insider tip: There’s a small private room in the back that offers two levels of cocktail tastings — a $25 “cocktailery” menu that includes three rounds, and a $75 “tomfoolery” menu that covers five rounds and a few surprises.

Tilt

New14th Street Corridor
From the team behind BlackSalt and Pearl Dive Oyster Palace comes this pinball-inspired 14th St. NW watering hall offering game-themed cocktails, local brews and eclectic snacks like lobster rangoon and a Korean-style beef sub. While there are no actual machines, quirky accents like a kaleidoscopic bartop made from pinball backglass, bumper cap accents and rock and movie posters add to the fun vibe.

Must-order: The Blonde Bullet, a mix of Four Roses Bourbon, Basque cider, lemon juice and ginger foam
Insider tip: It’s first come, first served, which means there might be a list to get in during busy times — but repeat customers sometimes receive a card that gives them head-of-the-line status.

Top of the Gate

NewFoggy Bottom
Set on the 15th floor of Foggy Bottom’s iconic Watergate Hotel, this open-air rooftop bar offers 360-degree panoramic views of the Potomac River, the Pentagon and the Washington Monument. Craft cocktails and Asian street fare are served in luxurious loungey surroundings, complete with colorful couches and gardenlike greenery.

Must-order: Gin-n-Thyme, a blend of gin, thyme-violet honey and iced chamomile tea
Insider tip: Arrive around 6 PM for the best pick of seating, and be sure to bring your sunscreen on hot days: Those sweeping views come with plenty of rays.

The Passenger

NewShaw
The second iteration of this beloved cocktail bar lands in Shaw, serving creative mixed drinks, chartreuse and rum on tap, clever bites and a hangover brunch on weekends. Completing the package: two bars on two floors, an upstairs stage for live music and DJs, and colorful murals contributed by several artists.

Must-order: The deal here is that you tell the seasoned bartenders what you like, and they whip up something based on your taste. 
Insider tip: For those who can’t handle the willy-nilly ordering, check Facebook to preview a small selection of daily cocktails featured on a chalkboard. 

Vieux Carre

NewDowntown
Named for the French Quarter, this candlelit Downtown cocktail bar blends old-school New Orleans charm with modern mixology, offering updated takes on classics like the Sazerac and Ramos gin fizz. Chandeliers, wrought-iron accents and a Bourbon Street–style mezzanine set the scene, while a glassed-in "lab" gives customers a window into the bartenders' craft.

Must-order: Classic NOLA cocktails: Vieux Carré, Sazerac, Ramos Gin Fizz 
Insider tip: Happy hour takes place from 5–7:30 PM daily, when beers and wines are $2 off and cocktails cost $9 instead of the usual $12 (both prices include tax).

La Jambe

Small PlatesShaw
This charming wine bar in Shaw offers lovingly curated French vins, cheese, charcuterie, sandwiches and light bites like housemade walnut pesto toast in an airy space dominated by a handsome bar and spritely, punk-inspired wall art.

Must-order: Salers (a traditional French apéritif), a cider from Normandy or one of the four rosés offered by the glass
Insider tip: There’s a special take-out menu for cheese and charcuterie boards, as well as a few sandwiches — all perfect for a light dinner at home.

Radiator

Gastropub14th Street Corridor
Referencing the car dealerships that populated the area midcentury, this Logan Circle hangout decorates its polished, industrial-style space with vintage auto parts (along with a shuffleboard court and a fire pit), a hip backdrop for globally inspired small plates like croquetas and lamb belly tacos, plus local brews and craft cocktails.

Must-order: Ricotta Situation, a creamy mix of fig liqueur, ricotta, lemon, raw honey and vanilla
Insider tip: With a gorgeous heated patio and a Peruvian coin-toss game called Sapo, the neighborhood spot is a great place for whiling away the hours. Be sure to check out Radiator's brunch service too, which features everything from duck 'n' waffles to Nutella French toast. 

Hugo

Purcellville
Gilt mirrors & rich draperies set the scene at this atmospheric lounge on the first floor of a stylishly revamped Purcellville farmhouse (with sibling WK Hearth, the Italian bistro, upstairs). Cocktails based on pre-Prohibition recipes feature spirits from local distilleries, plus bar bites are on offer.

Must-order: A classic Aviation or a S’mores, which blends graham cracker bourbon, burnt marshmallow syrup and chocolate bitters
Insider tip: The menu also offers bites like crispy pork ears and BBQ lettuce wraps, and the best seat in the house is near the bay window when it's too cold to sit on the porch.

Eatbar

AmericanCapitol Hill
Housemade charcuterie, pork burgers, ham fries and other meaty nibbles (plus a few leafy options) line the menu at this happening Capitol Hill gastropub where deep wine and craft beer lists, a curated jukebox and a wall crafted from cassette tapes signal rollicking good times.

Must-order: Little Miss Dangerous, a blend of eight-year rum, Cynar, muscadine vinegar and tonic
Insider tip: Chef Nathan Anda keeps things fresh by highlighting a weekly beer, plus — much to meat eaters' delight — a pork and sausage of the week.

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