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5 Best Cocktail Bars in Washington, D.C.

5 Best Cocktail Bars in Washington, D.C.

By Lola Mendez 

Washington D.C. knows how to work hard and play hard. The nation’s capital is home to some of the most extraordinary monuments and museums—and also superb cocktail bars. These are some of our favorite watering holes to enjoy expertly crafted cocktails after a long day at work or a spin around the District on a Fat Tire Tours experience. These are the five best cocktail bars in Washington D.C.

Columbia Room

📍 Location: 124 Blagden Alley NW

The award-winning Columbia Room is the go-to spot for a memorable cocktail experience in Washington D.C. For a special event book the Tasting Room which can fit up to 20 people for a four-course tasting menu of small bites paired with boozy beverages. The theme rotates with the seasons and currently is “So bad it’s good,” bringing back forgotten low-brow cocktails and nostalgic bar food prepared with an upscale twist—you’ve never had a Long Island Iced Tea like this before! The menu can be adapted for vegans.

You’ll be greeted with a welcome shot of whichever concoction the barmen are currently experimenting with. The knowledgeable mixologist will happily explain the history of each cocktail and the tasting room’s decor which pays tribute to the story that claims Aristotle coined the term “spirits” after grapes were left out all day and begun to ferment. It got everyone tipsy, so they thought the grape juice must have been hexed by an otherworldly being.

If you’re looking for a gorgeous ambiance and high-quality cocktails, then drop into their à la carte bar and order off their unique Spirits Library or from the extensive Punch Garden menu. This is an impressive spot to take clients or a date for a drink!

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📍 Location: 900 16th St NW

Drink like the French at this bistro located just two blocks from the White House. Mirabelle has a well-curated spirit and cocktail program which incorporates many French spirits such as Cognac, Calvados, Armagnac, French Whisky, Eaux de Vie, and Vin de Liqueurs. On the French-inspired cocktail menu, you’ll find an eclectic mix of classic cocktails and original creations.

Crowd pleasers include the Embrasse de la Terre composed of French ingredients including Rutte Old Simon Genever, Dolin Dry Vermouth, Yellow Chartreuse, and The Bitter Truth Celery Bitters. The sipping cocktail is an ultra-smooth homage to the Martini. It won the 2017 Tales of the Cocktail Official Cocktail Competition, the Year of the Martini. Who can resist an award-winning cocktail? You can also get delicious non-alcoholic cocktails at this beautiful bistro.

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Living Room

📍 Location: 515 15th St NW

Grab an after-work drink at the historic W Washington D.C. in the recently revamped Living Room lobby bar. The creative cocktail menu is made with spirits within a 50-mile radius. Gin lovers will be in heaven here as many of the boozy beverages use the spirit and enhance it with farm-fresh herbs, fruits, and more for memorable cocktails such as a cocktail inspired by a bouquet and served with fresh flowers. For those who are a bit more daring order the smoky mezcal served with an oyster shell shooter.

If you’d like to make a toast with the most epic views of the monuments, head up to the POV Rooftop around dusk to have a sundowner. It wouldn’t be D.C. if the cocktails didn’t have some political parodies—try the Stormy Jack Daniels or the savory Head of State with mushroom, cardamom, bitters, cloves, and scotch.

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The Gibson

📍 Location: 2009 14th St NW

One of the coolest cocktail bars in town is The Gibson. Even though this speakeasy has been open for over a decade—folks still get confused trying to find the entrance. But don’t fret, it’s not so hard to find, it’s the unmarked door to the left of Marvin, one of our favorite spots for live music in Washington D.C. They still have a “secret menu” that’s pretty well known but offers drool-worthy cocktails, so be sure to try something off of the Legends Selection.

The feline-inspired cocktail menu is crafted by female artisans who are masters of their craft with expert training as a culinary grad and a sommelier. Order off the menu, which rotates with the season to make use of farm-fresh ingredients, or ask one of the bartenders to whip you up their favorite concoction with the spirit of your choice—you won’t be disappointed.

You can’t go wrong by ordering the floral A Wildcat in Montmartre made with bourbon, Lillet Rose, Cardamaro, Yellow Chartreuse, and Rosewater Cardamom Tincture. The cocktail is named after two boozy locales: Kentucky, where 95% of the world’s bourbon is made and where the Wildcat is the local university’s mascot, and Paris, the home of Lillet Rose, specifically the beautiful Montmartre neighborhood in Paris. It might just make you a pretty kitty in the city.

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The Green Zone

📍 Location: 2226 18th St NW

This little drinking hole packs a serious punch with inventive cocktails rooted in Arabic age-old recipes and spices. The Green Zone is your dream neighborhood bar with friendly bar staff, gorgeous decor, and an intimate setting. The cocktail bar opened about a year ago and is already a fan favorite among locals in Adams Morgan and travelers visiting the city. The cocktails are a must-try with plenty of unique combinations, but the fan-favorite continues to be Mint Lemonade. The simple cocktail is green, frothy, and totally refreshing. You could also try Palestine beer and Lebanese wine at The Green Zone.

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