The Best Cocktail Bars In Washington, D.C.

Photo of Robert Wilder
9 February 2017

The bar scene in Washington, D.C. is evolving into one of the premier locations in the United States for cocktails. With a mix of new and old establishments, Washington D.C. serves as a model for successful and unique bars. Read further to discover the best cocktail Bars in Washington, D.C.


Rouge 24

Bar, Cocktail Bar, American, $$$
Located in the back of Rouge 24 sits the Spirits Bar, a fully furnished cocktail bar that serves handmade drinks. Bartenders at Spirits Bar are always expanding their cocktail list with drinks such as the Breakfast Daiquiri, made with citrus, coffee-infused rum and burnt-cinnamon milk. The space at Spirits is tiny with only two seats, which makes it ideal for dates or double dates. The décor is modern and features exposed brick, wooden stools, and a granite bar top. Patrons of Spirits Bar also have the option of a three-course tasting menu that includes a drink pairing.

Bar Charley

Cocktail Bar, Craft Ale Bar, Gastropub, Pub Grub
Bar Charley
Bar Charley | Jodi Green/Flickr
The cocktail list at Bar Charley is nothing short of amazing. Bar Charley has over 15 variations on the classic Manhattan, and every cocktail has a unique name such as Jiminy Cricket and Pimms Up, Ho’s Down. Happy Hour is offered Tuesday through Friday and all night Monday. In addition to world class cocktails. Bar Charley also offer wine and beer in bottle and on draft, including domestic and national brands.

The Gibson

Bar, Cocktail Bar, American
The décor of The Gibson is reminiscent of the prohibition era, with Edison-style filament bulbs that are placed over the paisley print decorated black saddle leather bar. The lounge is split into two rooms, with a large chalkboard behind the bar that lists the daily specials and drink options. The bar consists of 40 seats and enforces a no standing policy. The drink menu features over 18 signature cocktails, and their most popular cocktail is the Salad Day Sour, which consists of celery-infused Macchu Pisco, lemon, Bitter Truth Celery Bitters, and burnt cinnamon.

Off the Record

Bar, American, Pub Grub, Gluten-free
Off the Record
Off the Record | Dustin Diaz/Flickr
Off the Record was featured by as one of the ‘World’s Best Hotel Bars.’ The interior is covered with caricatures of Washington’s current and former political elite. The atmosphere of Off the Record is relaxing and there is an equal mix of locals and visitors. Off the Record is located in the iconic Hay-Adams Hotel, and patrons can often find politicians there that frequent the bar. One of the more popular drinks at Off the Record is the Grapefruit Margarita.


Bar, Cocktail Bar, Craft Ale Bar, American, Pub Grub, Vegetarian
The ambiance of Quill is unlike any other bar in Washington D.C.; it is intimate and inviting with a good mix of locals and visitors. The specialty cocktail list changes regularly and small plates are available to pair with the handcrafted cocktails. The cocktail list at Quill is on the pricey side, but the bar boasts fresh ingredients and homemade ingredients such as cream soda. Quill also offers patrons an extensive wine list and multiple domestic beers on draft.

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