These hotspots for craft cocktails are attracting the Young & the Guest List crowd.
If you’ve noticed an influx of new cocktail bars in the city lately, you’re not alone. Whether you want a romantic speakeasy or a place to throw back drinks with friends, these are some of our top spots for craft cocktails.
TILT SIDE BAR
Grab a few pals and head to Tilt for “shareable cocktails” as well as refreshing and creative individual citrus-focused drinks in a colorful, retro-style environment. The bar is on the top floor of Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, through a swinging door that leads to a pinball-themed room styled by Molly Allen (highlight: bar countertops created from old pinball machines). Be bold and go for the “PNBL WZRD,” a take on peanut butter and jelly that combines peanut butter- washed vodka, red wine and lemon. “Our drinks are bright in appearance and bright on the palate,” beverage director George Sault says. “They confuse the palate in the best kind of way.” 1612 14th St. NW
THE ALEX CRAFT COCKTAIL CELLAR & SPEAKEASY
Instagram influencers flock to the Alex for its “Bathtub Gin & Tonic” —a house-made gin, tonic, flora and lime cocktail that’s literally served in a miniature claw-foot porcelain bathtub and is as tasty as it is visually appealing. Mixologists make their own juices and syrups and the house-made gin is infused with refreshing botanicals. The speakeasy-style bar is an excellent date night spot with moody steam- punk decor and live jazz on the weekends. And if you’re looking for a staycation, book a room at the Graham – the bar is located on the hotel’s lower level. 1075 Thomas Jefferson St. NW
MORRIS AMERICAN BAR
Renowned bartender David Strauss (of The Sheppard fame) opened his first bar in February, right by the Washington Convention Center. It’s a brightly lit, pastel-colored joint that’s markedly different from a speakeasy, designed with the help of SWATCHROOM’s Maggie O’Neil.The meticulous mixologist cuts all ice in-house and changes up the cocktail menu monthly, offering plenty of smooth drinks based on classics as well as unique creations like Strauss’s gin and apple brandy-based “Forrest Hills” and his personal favorite, the “Bartender’s Choice,” a custom drink that depends on the guest’s preferences. “It’s an opportunity to express what you like,” he notes. 1020 7th St. NW
The Hilton Brothers’ newest haunt is unlike anything in the U Street neighborhood. The 1920s-inspired bar and eatery is inside one of the brothers’ old row houses and feels simultaneously relaxed and elegant, a perfect spot for a post-work cocktail. Nibble on old-world inspired shared plates like house-made weisswurst sausage while sipping strong and smooth cocktails like the dangerously drinkable “Aztec Old Fashioned” and “Gunpowder Bees Knees.” 2012 9th St. NW
DRINK COMPANY BARS
For folks in the know, Drink Company needs no introduction. Its James Beard-nominated Columbia Room is consistently recognized for its creative cocktail program helmed by Derek Brown and is where Old Fashioned lovers will find five unique variations. And its quirky, pop-culture inspired alternating pop-up bar PUB (think Game of Thrones or Mario Brothers themed) has lines out the door (and no one complaining). Go for the Cherry Blossom themed pop-up now through April and try Japanese- inspired drinks including a traditional Chu-Hi garnished with a citrus Rice Krispies treat.
This story ran as part of Washington Life’s March 2018 “Young and the Guest List” feature.