Sure, the advent of summer means the return of mosquitoes, sweltering heat and throngs of tourists. But the hot months are also a prime time for chilling out with a fruit-garnished cocktail while soaking in the sunshine (or moonlight, if you're the nocturnal type) at your favorite local haunt.
Whether it's the classics you crave -- think Tom Collins or Singapore Sling -- or a new twist on an old favorite (pomegranate martini anyone?) -- there's no shortage of creative cocktails this summer. What's cool: "Raspberry Stoli seems to be in almost every drink people ask for," said Brian Harrison, principal owner of Adams Morgan hotspot the Reef, who points to margaritas and gin and tonics as classic summer beverages the sandaled set loves to swill.
Of course, the toughest part may not be deciding what to toss back, but where to head to quench your thirst. From rooftop bars to a quaint country inn, we've compiled a short list of places that scream summer.
HOTEL WASHINGTON. The 11th floor Sky Terrace's impressive vistas -- which include the White House and the Washington Monument -- make this a perennial favorite for locals and tourists. Arrive early for a seat by the rail and then kick back with a frozen margarita or a Bahamas Mama, a blend of pina colada mix, spiced and dark rums, OJ and a splash of grenadine, about $7.50 each. 515 15th St. NW. 202-638-5900. www.hotelwashington.com.
THE REEF. Tables fill up fast, and the management keeps capacity strictly limited, but the roomy rooftop bar and unstuffy atmosphere are worth the wait. Toast friends with a Sidecar (orange juice, brandy, Cointreau, sour mix and a splash of soda), $8, or try a not-so-old-fashioned Belgian Sunrise (raspberry beer on the bottom and Allagash White ale on top), $6.50. Arrive before 8 p.m. to beat the inevitable long lines on the weekends. 2446 18th St. NW. 202-518-3800. www.thereefdc.com.
SEQUOIA. Nothing says summer like a three-tiered outdoor patio on the banks of the Potomac. The see-and-be-seen scene draws a mostly young single crowd on weekends. Belly up to the bar and order an old favorite or go with one of this spot's sunny-day sippers: an Island Ice Pick (Bacardi rum and iced tea), $6.50, or a Raspberry Lemonade, with, you guessed it, raspberry-flavored vodka, $6.75. 3000 K St. NW. 202-944-4200. www.arkrestaurants.com.
THE IRISH INN AT GLEN ECHO. With half the staff claiming Celtic roots, you have a pretty good chance of hearing a brogue at this upscale country inn. Magners Cider, $4.50 for a 12-ounce long neck, is popular on the patio, but twists on the old-school martini -- try a Lemon Drop or the Washington Apple version -- are another sweet (or sour) way to while away a day, $7.50-$9. 6119 Tulane Ave., Glen Echo. 301-229-6600. www.irishinnglenecho.com.
CHART HOUSE. At the Alexandria locale, you could sprawl out in the indoor lounge or settle down at a table for dinner and drinks in the huge restaurant, but the best place for a cocktail is the riverside patio. In Annapolis, head to the lounge overlooking Spa Creek. Step back in time with a Gin Rickey (gin, soda and a splash of lime), $6, or swig some Island Hopper rum punch, $7. 1 Cameron St., Alexandria, 703-684-5080; 300 Second St., Annapolis, 410-268-7166. www.chart-house.com.
Christina Breda Antoniades