New York and Washington DC are two different playing fields. One believes ‘work hard, play harder,’ and the other… just works. Well, not entirely true as the following list of hotspots prove Washingtonians do have some around-the-clock drinking fun (like New Yorkers).
Jaleo – Penn Quarter
Experience summer like a Spaniard. Hora de Sangría, or ‘Sangria Time’ takes place Sunday through Friday from 4:00PM to 6:00PM with red sangria by the glass for $5 and pitchers for $25. Select tapas start at $4. Reserve the corner nook – typically where el jefe, José Andres hides out – with a spread of small plates and Spanish-style sangria. Sip the Sangria Roja, a berry-full blend of Valdehermoso Tempranillo wine, fizzy soda water and in-house sangria base including sherry brandy, dry gin and harmonious sangria syrup; fresh lemon wheels, orange peels, mixed berries, and bushels of mint on top. Avoid the red stools and sip while standing – It’s the Spanish way.
480 7th St NW, 202-628-7949, www.jaleo.com, @jaleobyjose
Masseria – NoMA
Set in the ghetto graffiti-tagged warehouse district, this former auto-body shop has transformed into an upscale, rustic-chic Italian eatery – Thanks to chef-owner Nicholas Stefanelli. Masseria is a hidden high-end “home” to Pulgian-inspired fare and award-winning cocktails. A reflection of Stefanelli’s roots, the dinner menu is set to prix fixe with four, five and six-course options, each showcasing serious flavors of high-class Italian-coastal cuisine.
Go with the wine pairing option – The on-site sommelier will gladly walk you through each pairing. Since reservations are tough, occupy the leather high chairs at the in-slash-outdoor bar where both dinner and cocktail menus are presented. Mix-master Julian Boureon will wow you with some stellar cocktails.
Note: These ‘tails change weekly based on Julian’s thoughts, feelings and experiences.
1340 4th St NE, 202-608-1330, www.masseria-dc.com, @masseriadc
Barmini – Penn Quarter
Another José Andres hotspot (but with a doorbell to enter) – This speakeasy-esque cocktail “lab” is outfitted in all-white with hints of abstract furnishings and ice-shaking sound effects. The bar team – dressed in formal white gear – concoct innovative libations from an eight-page menu categorized by spirit. Fancy gin? Pick the Floral Cloud with a hibiscus “cloud.” Tequila?
Choose the Cedar and Agave where a cedar plank is torched to build smokiness on the nose; Benedictine and orange bitters blend to create citrus flavors, and orange peel is pricked from an experimental glass. These heady cocktails are pricey, yet favorably worth it – Ladies, bring your man, a man, any man with a thick… wallet.
Sample a trio of savory mini waffles and dunk truffle grilled cheese sticks. Wait for a dinner cancellation at neighboring minibar, a twelve-seat “chef’s counter” serving scientific delights.
501 9th St NW, 202-393-4451, www.minibarbyjoseandres.com, @barminibyjose
Pinstripes – Georgetown
Change your frame of mind, and make this “strikingly good” three-in-one – bistro, bowling, bocce – establishment your go-to spot for company happy hour, date night, “Trivia Tuesdays,” birthday parties… whatever. The almost 40,000 square-foot space (in a former shopping center) offers casual fine dining and craft cocktails along with three bocce courts and twelve bowling lanes to get your game on.
Settle for a sole Whiskey Sour with Chicago-based Koval Bourbon, “grandma’s” orange marmalade, in-house sour mix, topped with local Optimal Wit bier from Port City Brewing in Alexandria, VA and of course, a cherry on top.
Fact: The bowling lanes are located in a past parking garage. You can tell by the massive cement pillars holding up the building frame.
Georgetown Park, 1064 Wisconsin Ave NW, 202-625-6500, www.pinstripes.com, @pinstripesbbb
Copycat Co. – H Street
This is where locals and industry leaders alike wrap their Saturday night. This trendy, two-story townhouse-turned (bao) bar offers Northern Chinese street food downstairs and crafty concoctions upstairs. Sidestep the continuous cocktail menu filled with classics, and refer to the hand-drawn blackboard for flavor inspiration so you can build your own drink.
Rotating suggestions like specialty juleps and daiquiris from the bar team are listed, in addition to, “borrowed” cocktails from other DC mixologists – hence the name, Copycat Co.
Spare yourself from climbing a flight of steps – Order and eat mixed potstickers and meat skewers from your barstool. The kitchen closes at last call – That’s 2:45AM on weekends.
1110 H St NE, 202-241-1952, www.copycatcompany.com, @copycatco
The Watergate Hotel – Foggy Bottom
This luxe landmark hotel with sleek guest rooms and stylish hotel restaurant, Kingbird is the backdrop for The Watergate Scandal. Take a seat at the expansive silver bar, the source for well-made cocktails. Nurse the 30-day well-rested Watergate Manhattan with Ramazotti Amaro rinsed American oak barrel, Angel Envy’s bourbon and Carpana Antica vermouth; served over a sphere cube with orange peel and cherry on top. Relocate to a round booth beside tornado-shaped, stainless steel pillars and beneath spiral chandeliers to consume a pleasing meal. Wrap up with a handcrafted, boozy milkshake from Kingbird Terrace. The Bora Bora is a fan favorite, a mighty mix of coconut and pineapple sorbet with Meyers Rum; topped with delicate pastries to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Fact: Mad Man costume designer Janie Bryant created all retro-chic staff uniforms.
Be sure to take the elevator (all the way up) to Top of the Gate, a modish, open-air rooftop bar providing 360-degree panoramic views of the Potomac River and more. Show up before 6:00PM for prime seating. Sun- glasses and screen are suggested.
2650 Virginia Ave NW, 844-617-1972, www.thewatergatehotel.com, @thewatergate
Bar Pilar – 14th Street
Before 14th Street became the dining hub it is today, this art-adorned gastro-pub was the OG brunch spot…and is still a go-to on weekends. Cure your hangover here by drinking more. Commit to the ‘Baller Brunch Cocktail’ special: First “baller” at $15 with $1 mix-and-match refills. Begin with Beauty School Dropout: Prosecco, raspberry, basil, lemon and bitters, then Yoga Pants at Brunch 2.0 with white wine, strawberry, cucumber and absinthe, then peach mimosa? The choice is yours.
Sadly the brunch plates are a la carte, so choose wisely. Recommendation: Buttermilk-Fried Chicken Pancake with maple roasted pork belly and pickled jalapeño – Sweet, savory, spicy…and will “pump your stomach” the right way.
1833 14th St NW, 202-265-1751, www.barpilar.com, @barpilar
Cotton & Reed – NoMA
Last November, DC welcomed its first-ever rum distillery. Situated in Union Market, the warehouse-style tasting bar with an on-site distillery focuses on white rum and dry spiced rum made with a botanical blend. Sample both rums on a scheduled tour, or in a featured inventive cocktail from veteran barman, Lukas B. Smith. Pay homage to the red-bearded Lukas – Sip the Redbeard with white rum, Campari, ginger and lemon; dehydrated lemon wheel as garnish.
Note: The volume of the “preferred playlist” turns up high on weekends – Thanks to the manufacturing license, they can get away with a noise complaint from future neighbors. Party on.
Union Market, 1330 5th St NE, 202-544-2805, www.cottonandreed.com, @cottonandreed
Compass Coffee – Shaw
With the slogan “Real Good Coffee,” you know what to expect. Swing by the original Shaw spot – founded by two former Marines – for several blends and single-origin brews sourced from small farms in Guatemala, Indonesia and other global lands. Hang out for a little – Snag a seat at a communal table in the mod-industrial space featuring a handcrafted steel-and-cement counter and watch the state-of-the-art Loring roaster grind away. Pick up a bag o’ beans for at-home coffee brewing.
1535 7th St NW, 202-838-3139, www.compasscoffee.com, @compasscoffee