Cozy Up to These Five Bars

Above: Bill Wilson, left, of Nevada City, Calif., settles in with a book at the Tabard Inn bar before his dinner is served. Left: Patrons at the Tombs in Georgetown toss back a few amid vintage rowing memorabilia.
Above: Bill Wilson, left, of Nevada City, Calif., settles in with a book at the Tabard Inn bar before his dinner is served. Left: Patrons at the Tombs in Georgetown toss back a few amid vintage rowing memorabilia. (Jay Premack)
By Cynthia Kopkowski
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, November 11, 2007

In a town loaded with sleek lounges and Red Bull-fueled nightclubs, a cozy bar can seem hard to come by. But the area boasts several worthy cool-weather haunts, and with the air finally chilled, burrowing into a comfy chair amid dim candlelight with a warm drink in hand may be just what you need.

"People love coming in here in the cold weather and feeling they can have something seasonal and different," says Aisling Fitzpatrick, bar manager of Alexandria's Vermilion. Having come to the United States from Ireland, Fitzpatrick knows a thing or two about the need to create a snug environment during bone-chilling months. "We've got the lanterns and the candlelit tables and all of our cushions. We've got the same friendly atmosphere as the bars in Ireland."

But Vermilion's not the only option; here's the lowdown on that spot and a few more.

Off the Record

Necessity breeds coziness at this watering hole in the basement of the venerable Hay-Adams hotel. Located across the street from the White House, within a stone's throw of K Street and with a journalist sometimes lingering at a neighboring table, the environment dictates leaning in over the red beaded tea-light lampshades for hushed conversation. Members of the staff like to say, "It's the place to be seen and not heard."

Enhancing the ambiance are claret-red walls, high-backed tufted cushion seats, dark wood tables and brass sconces dimmed by black shades. A tasty trio of wasabi peas, salted almonds and mixed nuts arrives within seconds of taking a seat. Savor them with the St. Francis Sonoma cabernet sauvignon ($10), which the wine list promises has "dark fruit flavors supported by echoes of cedar and cocoa." Or to get comfy with your expense account, enjoy a Remy Martin Louis XIII cognac for $174 a glass in front of the carved stone fireplace at the far end of the bar.

Sixteenth and H streets NW, 202-638-6600, http://www.hayadams.com.

The Sly Fox Pub

Annapolis has more than its share of dimly lighted intimate pubs in its historic downtown. And though the Sly Fox is a relatively new addition to that scene, having opened in 2002, it's the epitome of coziness. Down a small set of brick stairs, the pub is housed in the cellar of Reynolds

Tavern, which has welcomed respite seekers since 1747. Strings of Bass and Guinness pint lights and (now electric) candle sconces illuminate the stone walls, brick floor and extremely low ceiling supported by wide beams.

In the tiny front room there's space for only about 10 to sit along the bar, as well as four small wooden tables. A narrow doorway leads to a few more tables scattered in front of a walk-in fireplace that once powered the tavern's kitchen.

"We tried to keep it looking as old as possible," says Andrew Fox, who owns the pub with his brother Chris.

Bartenders concoct the quintessential cozy drink here, even though it's not on the menu: the hot toddy ($6), served steaming with a sprinkling of nutmeg. Or there's the Sly Fox ($7), a potent and piping-hot blend of coffee, Kahlua, Baileys, Frangelico, Goldschlager and Tuaca (liqueur with a hint of vanilla), topped with whipped cream.

7 Church Cir., Annapolis, 443-482-9000, http://www.reynoldstavern.org.


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