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 nicely settled into its new Shaw location, there's a bumper crop of new sports bars just in time for March Madness. Here are the 10 hot spots to hit next time you're looking to wet your whistle.

Dock FC

NewIvy City
Set in one of Hecht Warehouse's original loading docks, this sleek, industrial-style Ivy City sports bar from Ari Gejdenson (Ari's Diner, Ghibellina) draws inspiration from Europe’s soccer-focused ‘football clubs,' showcasing international matches, along with football and hockey games, on giant screens and TVs suspended from high ceilings or tiled walls. Fans can order local and foreign beers, cocktails, and light Mexican bites from next door sibling, La Puerta Verde.

Must-order: Tiki-Taka & Tonic, a Spanish-style G&T with extra citrus and botanicals
Insider tip: It might be a sports bar, but don't be afraid to order a cocktail here. After all, this Hecht Warehouse hangout is from the same group behind Harold Black and Denson Liquor Bar.

Free State

NewPenn Quarter/Chinatown
With its nautical Maryland theme (light bulbs entwined in ropes, ship's lanterns, a captain's booth), this Chinatown basement bar offers a playful take on local sourcing, serving an Orange Crush cocktail, craft beers and wines from the Chesapeake region, plus pre-packaged boardwalk snacks like saltwater taffy and popcorn.

Must-order: Whichever of the 14 locally sourced craft beers on draft strikes your fancy
Insider tip: Check Twitter and Facebook for updates on business hours since it sometimes opens early for midday games and events at the nearby Verizon Center.

The Hilltop Bar & Restaurant

NewGastropubHoward University/Pleasant Plains
Unusual local beers pair with upgraded American tavern fare like bratwurst and duck confit at this Columbia Heights gathering spot. The rustic, bi-level space boasts large windows overlooking the sidewalk patio that's outfitted with a fire pit for chilly nights.

Must-order: A glass of the hard-to-find Black Dirt bourbon on the rocks
Insider tip: If you turn up between 7 AM and 2 PM weekdays, you'll find the coffee shop pop-up Small Chop DC serving pastries and coffees made with beans from DC-based Lost Sock Roasters

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The Midlands Beer Garden

NewPark View
Picnic tables, a wraparound bar and a fantasy mural set the scene at this laid-back Parkview gathering spot, offering eclectic beers, informal chow, like sandwiches, charcuterie and cheese baskets, and enthusiastic sports viewing. There’s also an outdoor beer garden, complete with heat lamps and a mascot dog.

Must-order: Beer is the focus here, with 14 drafts ranging from PBR to stout to Belgian farmhouse ales to sours — plus a local mead.
Insider tip: With several screens available for game days, the bar opens 15 minutes before early games during the week, offering coffee and free Wi-Fi for those who need to work while they watch. 

Cotton & Reed

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 housemade 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.


14th Street Corridor
From the team behind BlackSalt and Pearl Dive Oyster Palace comes this pinball-inspired 14th Street 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

Foggy 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 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

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

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 like the Vieux Carré, Sazerac or 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).

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