The Ritz-Carlton hotel moved into the art deco Georgetown Incinerator in April, and its restaurant and bar are cleverly dubbed Fahrenheit and Degrees, respectively. The furnace theme is incorporated into some parts of the bar's design -- some roughly "charred" rock and a wall that "glows" from behind -- but it's not the main focus.
Instead, Degrees simply exudes class. The centerpiece is the long, black granite bar, and it's surrounded by touches such as leaf ceilings, exposed brick walls and luxurious red velvet curtains. Whether you climb onto one of the red leather bar stools or sit at a small table, it seems like there's no request the friendly bartenders can't handle with a smile.
There are many choices on Degrees' long cocktail menu and wine list, so feel free to ask for help. My bartenders recommended the Fahrenheit 5, and it's a wise choice, made with Grand Marnier, Malibu rum and tart fruit juices and served with a chunky pineapple wedge. More delicate is the Watermint, based on a light, mint-infused vodka and garnished with a large slice of watermelon. A word of caution: You pay for the atmosphere; specialty drinks are $12 and up, appetizers start a few dollars higher.
If it's crowded or smoky, find a comfortable chair or couch in the hotel lobby (really), which offers full cocktail service, a piano and a crackling fireplace under soaring ceilings. It can take a long time to get a server, order and receive drinks, but the Ritz-Carlton isn't a place for people in a hurry.
-- Fritz Hahn (June 7, 2003)