The Scene: Long Washington's trendiest and most exclusive lounge, Eighteenth Street Lounge's reputation is built on its door policy (no sign outside), a crazy dress code that seems to fluctuate depending on the doorman's mood, and an association with the members of heralded electronic music duo Thievery Corporation. (Thievery's Eric Hilton is one of the co-founders and co-owners.) Once inside, ESL occupies the top two floors of a former mansion, and includes impressive chandeliers and many couches for lounging -- it's like a house party hosted by your richest, most sophisticated friend. DJs spin the latest downtempo house music, while weekends feature a live jazz band on the upper level.
In Your Glass: Cocktails. There isn't a "house" martini per se, but the bartenders do the basics well.
Need to Know: We're not kidding about the dress code. Primary offenders that will get guys turned away: khakis, ballcaps, sneakers (designer or not) and light-colored jeans. Also, groups of men arriving together are generally frowned upon. Women have it much easier, but they should still dress to impress.
Nice to Know: The most coveted spots are on the patio in the summer. Watch out for guest DJ appearances by artists on the Eighteenth Street Lounge record label.
Price Points: Guys may pay anywhere from nothing to $20 get in, based on the number of women in their group. Women generally pay less. Cocktails are $6 to $10, depending on what you order.
-- Fritz Hahn (February 2006)