The Best Craft Cocktail Bars in Washington, D.C.

One of America’s most creative cocktail cities, Washington, D.C’s scene is still small and insider-y, but it’s growing every year. From whiskey bars to sherry bars to meccas of molecular wizardry, D.C. has moved beyond the Gin Rickey (the District’s official cocktail) and into a brave new world of sophisticated cocktailing.

  • 1

    2 Birds 1 Stone

    Unbeknownst to passersby, the subterranean 2 Birds 1 Stone sits beneath its Southeastern Asian sister restaurant Doi Moi on an unassuming stretch of 14th Street. Adam Bernbach, star D.C. bartender of Estadio and Proof, revises the menu each week (and illustrates it himself) with hyper-seasonal ingredients like celery cordial and carrot soda. The space is bright and airy, like a cottage living room with cozy booths, colorful glassware and a spirit of whimsy that defies the brooding nature of many underground cocktail lounges.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
  • 2

    Barmini

    A high-concept bar to go alongside José Andrés's high-concept restaurant, minibar, this place is all sleek white interior, surrealist furniture and gold Japanese bar tools. With glassware sourced from all over the world, no two cocktails will be served in the same vessel, and no two drinks will be the same. Behind the bar is a rotary evaporator, induction burners and white-jacketed bartenders. From the fluffiest Ramos Gin Fizz in existence to cocktails garnished with mezcal marshmallows, each drink has been broken down to its individual pieces, tweaked and assembled again.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
  • 3

    Columbia Room

    Behind the rowdy Passenger lies the Columbia Room, a prayer nook of a bar that has maintained its reputation as one of D.C.'s best cocktail experiences. Served like a tasting menu, Derek Brown's cocktails are both a lesson in history (expect old-school punches) and precision (perfect Martinis are, well, perfect here). With just ten seats, this would be the place to go to learn a thing or two, impress a date or make friends with people who know how to mix booze.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
  • 4

    Eat the Rich

    A practice in the balance of high-low drinking culture, Miller High Life, muscadet and Malpeque oysters all share the same bar counter at this venue from Derek Brown (who has single-handedly made 7th Street his booze kingdom) and oyster man Travis Croxton.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • oysters / raw bar
    • craft cocktails
    • good wine
    • craft beer
  • 5

    Jack Rose

    Jack Rose owner Bill Thomas comes from a family of bar owners, and takes his family's business seriously. A large space with a whiskey collection that numbers over 1500 bottles, some extremely rare and no longer commercially available, it's good for a group, especially full of people who like to drink—you guessed it—whiskey. If you're looking for a more intimate experience, ask for directions to the bar in the basement.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • lots of whiskey
    • bar food
    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
    • craft beer
  • 6

    Mockingbird Hill

    Derek Brown and Chantal Tseng's love letter to sherry, ham and coffee is just one piece of Brown's 7th Street empire (down the way are Eat the Rich and Southern Efficiency, his other single-subject obsessions). With one of the most extensive sherry lists in the country, it's a veritable library of Andalusian labels, which are deployed in cocktails both classic (the Adonis and the eponymous Cobbler and remade (think sherry with a garlic back or a sherry Sazerac).

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • craft cocktails
  • 7

    PX

    It may be in Alexandria, but PX is certainly considered part of D.C.'s progressive cocktail scene. When it first opened in 2006, the bar was well ahead of the curve with many now-ubiquitous cocktail trends, and today bartender Todd Thrasher continues to churn out cocktails with housemade syrups and bespoke ice at this tiny second-floor parlor.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • good wine
    • bar food
  • 8

    Southern Efficiency

    More a whiskey bar than a cocktail bar, Southern Efficiency is Derek Brown's third single-subject bar (among Eat the Rich and Mockingbird Hill) along a stretch of 7th Street. Perhaps the most spare of his concepts—the name holds true—what it lacks in cocktail options, it makes up for in whiskey. From Jefferson's Presidential Reserve bourbon to James E. Pepper 1776 rye (it is D.C. after all), this is the place to find all the stuff J.F.K. talked about when he talked about D.C.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • lots of whiskey
    • craft cocktails
    • bar food

Related Articles

FROM AROUND THE WEB