Bar Rouge was one of Washington’s first boutique hotel bars, but more recent arrivals, such as the W’s P.O.V., have increasingly hogged the spotlight. I’ve started paying more attention to Rouge, though, since mixologist Rico Wisner made the move to 16th Street from Poste, its sister restaurant in the Hotel Monaco, earlier this year.
The freshly redecorated lounge’s vibrant color scheme matches the name, and what had been a fading wine list and happy hour has new pizazz. Get reacquainted at happy hour, which runs from 5 to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Four bucks will get you a glass of wine, a pint of Sierra Nevada or, most interesting, a cup of the house punch. The recipe changes according to Wisner’s whim; last week found a light, smooth rum punch made with citrus and a house-made tea blend. There’s even a fun and fizzy nonalcoholic cocktail, made with blueberry and sage syrups and lemon soda, for those who aren’t imbibing.
-- Fritz Hahn (Sept. 30, 2011)