This is the time of year when D.C. weather reaches Goldilocks perfection: The warm air has yet to become infused with humidity; the afternoon sun is strong but not oppressive; the evenings are still cooled by a lazy breeze. It’s the kind of weather that’s made for eating and drinking outdoors. But what if the one thing you crave after a long day stuck in your cube is a dry Manhattan, straight up with a twist? Are hushed speakeasies and dimly lit lounges the only destinations for carefully crafted cocktails?
The short answer is no. Just because you desire something slightly more refined than sour mix and Cuervo doesn’t mean you’re relegated to indoor confines. So, we’ve put together a list of great bars where you can sip on high-quality cocktails while basking in the sun.
Bourbon‘s back patio is a cozy place for a low-key round or two. The cocktail menu allows for all sorts of permutations, with suggested substitutions for classic drinks. If Owen is working, order an old-fashioned. For something sweeter, try a strawberry rickey or a mint julep.
» 2321 18th St. NW; 202-332-0801. (Woodley Park/Adams Morgan)
Head bartender Steve Warner wants to make Eventide‘s rooftop a destination for summer cocktails this year. As a curtsy to colonial drinking, Warner will be offering punch bowls, set to change periodically. His specialty cocktails are also tasty. Try the Cooper Brothers’ Cocktail, made with ginger and elderflower liqueurs.
» 3165 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-276-3165. (Clarendon)
CASHION’S EAT PLACE
If you’re not sure what you feel like drinking, visit Cashion‘s on a Wednesday night when Krishna Ramsundar is working. Pick your liquor and your mood, and Ramsundar will do the rest. He’s also incredibly knowledgeable about the history of just about any drink, liquor or ingredient you can think of, if you’re interested in an alcoholic education.
» 1819 Columbia Road NW; 202-797-1819. (Woodley Park-Adams Morgan)
Cafe Atlantico‘s tropical drinks are lovely on a hot, slothful afternoon. The caipirinha is simple and sweet — nothing but Brazilian cachaca, lime and sugar. Less Latin but equally refreshing is the dark and stormy — a mix of rum, ginger beer and lime.
» 405 8th St. NW; 202-393-0812 (Archives-Navy Memorial)
With mixologist Adam Bernbach behind the bar, Proof has transformed from a wine bar into a jack-of-all-alcohol-trades. Try wine-based concoctions including the Mirrorball — an airy combination of Riesling, apricot brandy, honey, lime, bitters and egg white — or the Yarmouth — a mix of cachaca and manzanilla sherry with splashes of elderflower liqueur, grapefruit bitters and Hitachino Nest’s herbal spirit (hops, coriander and citrus). Bernbach also says to look out for cocktails this season made with an apertif new to the U.S. — Cocchi Americano, an aromatized wine made with quinine.
» 775 G St. NW; 202-737-7663. (Gallery Place-Chinatown)
Room 11 is another wine-focused bar housing mixology talent. This summer, look out for the Andy Murray, a blended scotch drink with homemade lemon barley water. Or, try an inventive variation on a classic — the Silver Manhattan. It’s a Manhattan made with white whiskey.
» 3234 11th St. NW; 202-332-3234. (Columbia Heights)
Eat Bar‘s eclectic cocktails go nicely with an early evening snack on the patio. Pair cured meats, frites, or fritters with the citrus-centric Highlander — Citron vodka with hibiscus tea and lemon.
» 2761 Washington Blvd., Arlington; 703-778-9951. (Clarendon)
The Tabard Inn courtyard is a relaxing spot for such summertime drinks as the Casablanca Crusta, a crisp mix of gin, chamomile honey syrup, bitters, lemon juice and zest, and fresh mint.
» 1739 N St. NW; 202-331-8528. (Dupont Circle)
Written by Express contributor Suemedha Sood
Photos by Kris Conner