When it comes to best cocktail bars DC, Washington DC, the capital city of the United States, has plenty. From classic establishments to trendy new bars, the city’s mixology scene has a variety of flavors, atmospheres, and experiences to cater to all tastes and preferences.
Best Cocktail Bars DC: Classic Favorites
The nation’s capital has some classic cocktail bars that have been around for many years.
Let’s first take a look at these first.
If you want to only see the newer hot spots, scroll down!
Bar Mini By Jose Andres – Best For A Special Occasion
This is the ULTIMATE cocktail bar. The cocktail tasting experience here is absolutely exceptional. Bar Mini is the sister restaurant to Michelin Star restaurant Minibar. The two are adjacent to each other.
Bar Mini is a unique craft cocktail bar with a world class experience. Some of the cocktails are even made tableside for a completely immersive experience. The delicious cocktail flights here often have a theme and the menu changes seasonally.
The vast majority of seats here are by reservation only. So be sure to reserve your cocktail flight experience online several days in advance especially if you want to visit on a weekend. For a full review on this cocktail experience, check out the Barmini Cocktail Flight Review.
Round Robin Bar – Most Historic Cocktail Bar
Round Robin Bar is a classic cocktail bar located in the historic Willard InterContinental Hotel. It has been serving presidents, politicians, and poets since 1847. It is a must-visit destination for history buffs. It is actually the oldest bar that is still in existence in Washington DC. If you want a good cocktail and a little dose of history, head to this spot in Downtown Washington.
This bar has a history with certain cocktails. In particular, the mint julep here is particularly famous and is its signature drink.
CopyCat Co – Best Late Night Option
CopyCat Co., located at 1110 H St. NE in Washington, D.C., is a unique and trendy venue known for its authentic Chinese street food and a wide array of classic cocktails. This hip cocktail bar is located in the vibrant H Street neighborhood just north of Capitol Hill.
The bar has two levels, and the upstairs area is characterized as a dimly lit drinking den. Here cocktail names are scribbled on chalkboards in an intimate setting.
The menu at CopyCat Co. includes a range of Chinese street food, with dishes such as dumplings, potstickers, and beef bao. The cocktail selection is equally impressive, featuring items like martinis, fizzes, and house-made concoctions. The bar has received positive reviews for its delicious cocktails and food offerings, making it a great addition to the H Street corridor.
This popular DC cocktail bar is open from 5 PM to 3 AM. So whether you are dining, drinking, or both, you can have a great time here.
The Gibson – Best Option On 14th Street DC
The Gibson opened in 2008 and quickly became known for its cool design, exceptional drinks, and skilled bartenders. The bar’s hidden entrance is through an unmarked black door on bustling 14th Street, which enhances its allure as a speakeasy.
Once you are inside, The Gibson has a low-key, candle-lit lounge atmosphere. There is a long bar that runs down the middle of the ground floor. The bar is seated-only, 21+ establishment, with reservations available and recommended.
Service Bar – Best U Street Cocktail Bar
Service Bar is located on the very popular and busy U Street in Washington DC. It is another standout destination for experiencing a great cocktail because it combines a fast, casual bar with a more refined seated area.
Service Bar opened in 2016 and is known for not just cocktails but also for its relaxed neighborhood vibe. In addition to having a drink here, be sure to try their famous fried chicken sandwich,
If you like getting your night started early, this cocktail bar actually is one of the many places on U street that has a happy hour. Service Bar is devoted to showcasing the creativity and talent behind DC’s growing bartending scene.
Dirty Habit – Most Lively
Dirty Habit is an edgy and trendy cocktail bar. It located inside the Kimpton Hotel Monaco, which is in the heart of Washington D.C.’s Penn Quarter, near Chinatown.
This bar is actually set inside a historic location because it is inside the original General Post Office building. This structure dates back to 1839. Known for its luxurious ambiance, Dirty Habit is more than just a cocktail bar; it provides a vivid social scene complemented by a high-end cocktail program and an exclusive urban patio.
Dirty Habit also boasts a vibrant atmosphere, enhanced by great music played by a DJ, making it an ideal spot for those looking to enjoy a lively evening. It also has a seasonal outdoor space that you can enjoy as well. With a courtyard lounge and fire pits, it’s an ideal place for those seeking an indoor / outdoor experience.
Jack Rose Dining Saloon – Best Rooftop Cocktails
Jack Rose Dining Saloon is another well established cocktail bar. It is also one of the few rooftop bars in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington DC.
Jack Rose has an extensive selection of whiskey and a variety of expertly crafted cocktails. This DC cocktail bar combines a sophisticated and welcoming atmosphere with a focus on high-quality spirits and mixology, making it a popular destination for cocktail enthusiasts.
This cocktail bar also has a rooftop terrace. This scenic rooftop space is a popular spot, especially in warmer months.
McClellan’s Retreat – Off The Beaten Path
McClellan’s Retreat opened in 2014. Located in the Kalorama/Dupont Circle area, McClellan’s Retreat has a rotating selection of both traditional and inventive cocktails.
This bar has a focus on whiskey cocktails. It is a great place whiskey fans so be sure to stop in here for some signature cocktails made with whiskey. There are not a ton of options when it comes to food, just some snacks you can enjoy while drinking.
Old Ebbitt Grill – Must Visit For Tourists
Old Ebbitt Grill has been in operation since 1856. It is the second most historic bar in Washington DC. This old fashioned bar and restaurant is widely regarded as DC institution because it has had many numerous famous patrons. Also, the classic, wooden interiors create a warm as well as nostalgic atmosphere.
Green Zone – Creative Middle Eastern Flavors
Merging contemporary mixology with the rich tastes of the Middle East, Green Zone cocktail bar offers a unique experience. The bar has drinks like the Saz’iraq, Lebanese No. 1, Janissary Corps, and the very popular Mint Lemonade.
The name “The Green Zone” is inspired by the International Zone in Baghdad. This Green Zone is a safe haven where everyone can freely express themselves. This cocktail bar started as a pop-up bar in a kitchen along 14th St NW. It actually maintained its pop-up status for 4 years before being a more permanent establishment on 18th street.
Bar Charley – Convenient Location
Bar Charley is a go-to spot for quality cocktails and a cozy environment. This cocktail bar has over 100 different types of cocktails. With a nod to film icons, it creates a classic yet quirky backdrop for your drink of choice.
Located at 1825 18th St NW, near the intersecting neighborhoods of Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, and U Street, Bar Charley has a very convenient location. The menu here pays homage to classic steakhouses but with a modern twist and chef’s touches. The menu is well-rounded with numerous seafood and vegetarian options, catering to a wide range of tastes.
Denson Liquor Bar – Great Gatsby Vibes
Denson Liquor Bar in Washington D.C. officially opened its doors in the winter of 2014. The bar design here is Art Deco-inspired bar, and is often referred to as having a Great Gatsby vibe.
Located in the bustling Penn Quarter neighborhood, it has established itself as a stylish and traditional drinking establishment, evoking an old-school charm. You can either walk in or make a reservation online.
If you want the whole place to yourself, you can buy out the place for up to 60 people.
Church Key – Casual Classic
Church Key is a longstanding favorite on 14th street. 14th street in Washington DC has a vibrant dining scene. From great happy hours to amazing restaurants, there is something for everyone on this very popular DC street.
Church Key was established in 2009 and is still going strong. Church Key has a more casual vibe and it can get quite busy on weekend nights. If you’re looking for a busier spot, this is a good option for you.
Left Door – Exclusive & Intimate
Left Door opened in 2016 in Washington DC. It is a speakeasy-style cocktail den with a focus on exclusivity. It has an intimate setting with a non descript entrance. Be prepared to wait patiently for your drink and to pay around $15 to $18 a cocktail. It only has a capacity for about 30 people so come early before it gets too crowded.
The Columbia Room – Permanently closed and replaced by Death & Co (see below)
The Columbia Room was a multi-room space in Blagden Alley. It was in operation for almost 13 years before it closed in 2022 and was replaced by Death & Co.
Best Cocktail Bars DC: New & Notable Cocktail Bars
There are also a number of new cocktail bars in the DC nightlife scene. These newest editions are certainly worth a visit.
Grazie Mille – Sexy & Swanky
Grazie Mille is a swanky cocktail lounge by the group that operates the popular pizza place Grazie Nonna. It opened recently, in the winter of 2023.
Located just around the corner from Grazie Nonna, Grazie Mille has dim lighting, swanky decor, and is definitely a vibe. The chandeliers and candles add to the sultry atmosphere.
In terms of food, try the crudo and the shrimp cocktail. The foccacias are also popular and a good option to choose when you’re enjoying your drink. It’s open late night as well.
L’Annexe – Best Option On M Street In Georgetown
L’Annexe is a sleek cocktail bar right next door to sister restaurant L’Avant Garde. This cocktail bar is always busy on the weekend nights partly because it is located right on the main part of M street in Georgetown.
There is a beautiful Library located in the back of the bar where you can enjoy drinks with a group of friends. This area can also be rented out for a private event.
It is one of the best places to grab a pre dinner cocktail or an after dinner drink. It is also the perfect place for date night providing an intimate yet buzzy setting.
Fountain Inn – Best For Whiskey, Scotch, Bourbon, Cognac Lovers
Also located in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington DC, this elegant tasting room is a great place for a date or an intimate conversation. This cocktail bar also has a second floor which can be reserved for more private events.
This building was originally established in 1783 by clockmaker John Suter. The Fountain Inn which previously was Suter’s Tavern was one of the most important taverns in American history. The Fountain Inn hosted the debate between Thomas Jefferson & John Adams during the election of 1800.
There is a limited food menu focusing on food that pairs well with their cocktail selection. Fountain Inn is closed on Sundays and Mondays, and open until 1 AM on Fridays and Saturdays.
Silver Lyan – Great For Date Night
This stylish type cocktail bar is located in the luxury 5 star Riggs Hotel. Walk down the grand staircase right near the check in area and you will be led down to the sultry lounge area that is the Silver Lyan. This bar is just lively enough to be a great date night spot, but also still remain intimate.
The Allegory At The Eaton Hotel – Another Great Date Night Option
This sleek and romantic cocktail bar is tucked away inside the popular Eaton Hotel. The speakeasy type bar is hidden behind a nondescript door in the Eaton DC’s Progress Library. No reservations are accepted and parties larger than 8 must book a private event.
During the weekdays this bar is open until midnight. On the weekends, it stays open until 2 am.
D’Lena Lounge – Best For Tequila Lovers
The popular Mexican restaurant D’Lena opened in the spring of 2021. It has an intimate bar in the basement level of the restaurant. Here you can enjoy creative cocktails, several of which are tequila based. You can also order certain menu items off their regular menu as well. Come early because this cocktail bar does not
Morris American Bar – Best Interior Design
Morris American Bar is a beautiful venue. This two level cocktail bar has some of the best well balanced cocktails in Washington DC. Even beyond the delicious cocktails, this bar is beautifully designed with hues of blue. Come here with a group of friends and experience their creative takes on classic cocktails.
Death & Co – Best Date Night Option In Shaw
The Death & Co brand started in Manhattan. Like many popular NY establishments, they often make their way down the east coast to the DC area. Death & Co has taken over the space previously operated by Columbia Room. The bar features a dark, intimate atmosphere that embodies the classic speakeasy vibe, with a focus on high-quality ingredients and creative mixology.
Blagden’s Alley in DC is a must visit for anyone who is looking for fun things to do in DC at night. This cute alley way has a fun array of world class dining as well as bars. Death & Co fits in perfectly here.
All Soul’s Bar – Best Cozy Cocktail Bar
Another great cocktail bar in the Shaw neighborhood is All Soul’s Bar. This casual and cozy cocktail bar is a popular local favorite amongst those living the Shaw neighborhood. It doesnt have a full food menu, but the cocktail menu is quite extensive. The outdoor patio is also a popular place to sit and enjoy your cocktails. It is known for being an extremely friendly and welcoming establishment.
Imperial Bar – Great Happy Hour
Right at the junction of the U street corridor and Florida Avenue is Imperial Bar. This is a great cocktail spot located very close to the Adams Morgan neighborhood and Kalorama neighborhood.
The Imperial has a rooftop, main floor, and cellar dining, so it has a wide range of atmospheres to cater to different preferences. They also have a great happy hour from Wednesday to Sunday from 5 PM to 8 PM.
In terms of cuisine, The Imperial offers a menu with strong American influences, featuring dishes such as Beef Wellington and Lobster Deviled Eggs. The menu is concise yet diverse, ensuring that there’s something for everyone. The restaurant’s Mid-Atlantic inspired cuisine is viewed through the lens of southern France, adding a unique twist to the American culinary experience.
Hank’s Cocktail Bar – Open Seasonally
Hank’s Cocktail Bar is located behind the flagship Hank’s Oyster Bar in Dupont Circle. This cocktail bar is a hidden oasis that features a rotating menu of seasonal drinks. Special themed beverages like the “Have a Nice Tryp..tophan,” “Thanks Given,” and “Granny’s Apple Pie” are part of their seasonal offerings, designed to get patrons into the giving spirit.
It is only open at certain times of the year, so check the website before heading over.
Best Cocktail Bars In Washington DC: Summary
Washington DC’s cocktail scene is dynamic and a lot of fun to experience. Having a craft cocktail in a DC bar is one of the most popular things for locals to do at night in Washington DC.
Some of the best cocktail bars in DC include Bar Mini, Silver Lyan, The Fountain Room, The Allegory, Service Bar, The Gibson, Denson Liquor Bar, CopyCat Co, Imperial Bar, and L’Annexe. The complete list above gives you the ultimate guide to the best bars in Washington DC that have a focus on craft cocktails and innovative mixology.