The word “cocktail” can conjure up memories of poorly mixed rum-and-cokess or of an expertly-crafted old-school Brandy Alexander. Luckily, DC has a troupe of mixologists and bartenders ready to stir up a concoction that’ll keep you loyal to to the classic mixed drink. Read on for our picks.
The Drink: Doubting Duck
What’s In It: Sherry, vermouth
Although DC legend Derek Brown’s upscale craft cocktail bar opened only a few weeks ago, it’s already generated mountains of buzz. In addition to a 20-seat main room, the must-try new bar is home to a Spirit’s Library with “bookcases of booze” featuring picks like a 19th century Russian vodka. Genuine cocktail enthusiasts can’t go wrong with the three- and five- course cocktail tasting menus, which come paired with snacks like pickled oyster and uni buttered toast. Our pick for the top cocktail here has to be citrusy, sherry- and-vermouth Doubting Duck—just about as far away from a Blue Hawaiian as you can imagine
Bar PilarThe Drink: Red Sangria Slushie
What’s In It: Brandy, allspice
When a bar is named after noted drinker and writer Ernest Hemingway’s boat, you’ve got to assume it’ll have a stellar drink menu. Located on the bustling U and 14th Street intersection, this bright yellow bar has a roster of intense drinks made with ingredients like honeycomb and pomegranate honey bitters. The real winners here, though, are the frozen cocktails, produced with a bartop slushie maker. For an entirely new take on a familiar favorite, order up a glass (or two) of the fruity brandy-and-allspice frozen Red Sangria.
The Drink: Tribute To The World’s Greatest Cocktail
What’s In It: Rye and rose champagne
This new 14th Street joint is acquiring fame around town for a Pappy Van Winkle-based $100 drink dubbed “The World’s Greatest Cocktail”. But don’t pull out the Benjamins just yet-,the quirky spot features plenty of other eclectic and more moderately-priced libations. Treat yourself to the rose champagne-and-rye-whiskey “Tribute To The World’s Greatest Cocktail” for a luxurious but still somewhat budget-friendly nightcap.
Quarter + GloryThe Drink: Quarter+Glory
What’s In It: Rum, scotch, bitters
This chic U Street newcomer is a paean to old-school cocktails. With a stunning brick-and-leather interior evocative of a Manhattan three-martini institution, the cocktail bar is sure to wow any guest you bring before even a sip of the first drink. The menu, which is festooned with literary quotes from all-time greats like F. Scott Fitzgerald, features a dizzying array of cocktails and bourbons. Go for the house concoction, the Quarter + Glory, for a whiskey-soaked quintessential take on boozy, Prohibition-era luxury.
Science ClubThe Drink: Science Club Initiation
What’s In It: White rum, apple juice, cranberry juice, rosemary simple syrup
This tribute to everything nerdy is devoted to staying on theme, and yes, that means your cocktail will be served in a beaker. The intimate brick-walled lair, located only steps from the St. Gregory, is the perfect place to cozy up and order up a round of the Science Club Initiation—a rum-and-apple-juice mix served up in a test tube with the tagline “teams encouraged.”