Just what the doctor ordered, the Pharmacy Bar is a soothing remedy to the Adams Morgan night scene. All the seats are comfortable, the tables are well spaced, the air conditioner is set at a perfect level. Overlooking 18th Street, stools at the front counter are some of the best people-watching perches in the city.
The pharmacy motif, inspired by Latvian owner Kristaps Kreslins' pharmacist grandfather, permeates every inch of the place. Table tops have been decorated with pills of all different shapes, colors and sizes and covered in a layer of resin. Mirrored medicine cabinets adorn one wall; on others, display cases hold bottles of antique potions and brightly colored liquids. The stenciled border along the floor consists of the scientific names of different drugs like Dexamethafone. Barely visible, painted images of medicinal containers float along the blue walls.
The jukebox selections were picked with the same taste and care obvious in the bar's other elements. Choose from modern classics like Liz Phair's "Exile in Guyville," "Harmacy" by Sebadoh or Pavement's "Slanted & Enchanted," or go the old school route with selections by the Clash, the Stones, the Beatles, Elvis and Patsy Cline.
The Pharmacy Bar even prescribes victuals. There are a few unusual sandwiches in the $6 or $7 range, like smoked salmon with dill cream cheese, or chicken salad; a handful of salads, and soups. All the food is above-par for pub fare, and some of it is even better than that.
If you'd prefer to escape from street life, hunker down at the bar and enjoy a surprisingly cozy view of the brick building next door. On weekends, if the place starts getting a little too packed, the doorman asks newcomers if they'd mind coming back a little later. The Pharmacy Bar is all about hanging in comfort. Expect the regulars here to be Adams-Morgan denizens (not weekend immigrants from Georgetown or the 'burbs) and people who appreciate that the bar has as much personality as any in New York.
-- Maura Kelly