If the idea of sitting outside when temperatures fall sounds ridiculous, don’t worry: Other bars are willing to welcome you in from the cold with a hot toddy. There’s somewhere for everyone.
A Bar, which opened this summer in the boutique Avenue Suites in Foggy Bottom, is at once stylish and nondescript. That all changes when you pass through to the patio.
The courtyard behind the hotel feels like a hidden garden: groups of pillow-covered couches and benches clustered around low metal tables, with a long green wall that resembles a leafy hedge behind them. The seats are shaded by cantilevered umbrellas and warmed by heat lamps.
There’s a secret, though: One of the large metal tables hides a fire pit, and A Bar beverage manager Brennan Adams says that another one could be in place by mid-December.
The prospect of outdoor drinking is why A Bar’s new cocktail list is heavy on warm drinks, says Adams, who previously helmed the bars at El Centro D.F. and Masa 14. Think hot chocolate swizzled into warm milk and spiked with a choice of liqueurs, a sweet melon eggnog with pureed cantaloupe and seasonal spices and, “for a real fall feel,” a roasted pumpkin and apple cider fortified with applejack. (Adams notes that most of these cocktails can be made without booze on request.)
Adams’s “modern hot toddy” menu features drinks made with various teas. “The first one will be a bergamot base,” he says. “What goes really well with bergamot? Lemon. So I’m making a syrup with kumquat, which has a nice citrus texture.”
This summer’s sizzling temperatures were assuaged by glasses of Adams’s Patio Punch, which changed frequently and cost $4 from 4 to 7 p.m. on weeknights. For winter, the punches are being replaced by traditional gluhwein, or mulled wine. “Every country in Europe has its own, so I’ll do a tour of Europe,” with a new country featured every few days, he says.
Those drinks will be served outside, at a fire pit or a regular table, with the option of fondue sized for one or, if you make reservations, a whole group. “We don’t do bottle service, but if you reserve a fire pit, we’ll do fondue service,” Adams jokes.
A Bar, 2500 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. 202-464-5610. www.abardc.com. Bar open 4 p.m. to midnight daily. Cocktails, $10-$12.
Visitors to Poste Moderne Brasserie’s secluded courtyard are packed elbow-to-elbow in the summer, when spiked lemonade and drinks made with fresh herbs and vegetables from the chef’s garden are the big draw. This year, though, Poste is trying to turn its best feature into a year-round operation.