Washingtonians love to complain about oppressive summer heat and humidity, but they also love to spend as much time as possible admiring the views from rooftop bars and settling in at long tables in shaded beer gardens.
While everyone has a go-to outdoor drinking destination, it's also good to shake up routines by trying one of these rooftops and patios, all of which are new for 2019.
If you want a stylish lounge with great views: 12 Stories
The Wharf’s newest rooftop destination is run by the Gerber Group, whose portfolio includes penthouse lounges in New York and Atlanta, and the chic space feels luxurious, thanks to touches like a private elevator from the street to the 12th floor of the InterContinental Hotel and bar stools and couches arranged next to floor-to-ceiling windows. The biggest draw is the deck, where the unobstructed views sweep from the Wilson Bridge to past Rosslyn. (Outdoor tables can be reserved, but on recent visits, they’ve been open for everyone.) Settle in with one of the “Zero Degree” cocktails, which are chilled so they’ll stay cold longer, or a punchy nonalcoholic drink, and enjoy one of the city’s best new date spots. 75 District Sq. SW.
If you want food and drinks that remind you of vacation: Coconut Club
Everything about chef Adam Greenberg’s Coconut Club is designed to transport you to Hawaii: the festive pink-and-green color scheme, the poke and Spam musubi dishes, cocktails featuring mango-infused rum and tropical juices. The party really gets going, though, when the three garage doors on the front of the converted warehouse roll up and revelers spill out onto the patio. Sitting at turquoise tables, surrounded by white planter boxes filled with colorful flowers, sipping the frozen Mahalo at You Later (a mix of rum, Chartreuse and strawberry), you’ll feel like you’re somewhere far more exotic than Union Market. 540 Penn St. NE.
If you want to escape to a hidden garden on 14th Street NW: Cork Wine Bar
Sidewalk patios aren’t hard to find on 14th Street NW’s restaurant row, but peace of mind can be in short supply amid the loud crowds and passing buses. If you need a quiet place for a get-to-know-you date or just want to catch up with old friends over a bottle of rosé, the patio behind Cork Wine Bar and Market fits the bill. Created with the help of Amanda McClements, who owns the nearby Salt and Sundry as well as Little Leaf, this bright and enticing getaway is decorated with colorful plants hanging from the wooden walls, and French-style cafe tables with bright turquoise chairs and festively patterned cushions. Cork is known for French and Spanish wines from small producers, which pair well with cheese or pasta. Even better: The patio is open at 11 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday, making it perfect for those working lunches when your boss is out of town. 1805 14th St. NW.
If you’re craving a spacious and kid-friendly spot: Dacha Beer Garden
More than two years after Shaw’s popular Dacha Beer Garden announced it was opening a second location near the Navy Yard, drinks are finally flowing across the street from Nationals Park. Save the attractive modern American restaurant for a rainy day and find a long table on the patio, where up to 700 people can relax in the shade of linden and maple trees. A vintage Airstream trailer serves as a bar, dispensing cans of rosé, spritzes and tallboys of European and American craft beers. (Look for the refreshing Dachnik Helles Lager, specially made by DC Brau.) Parents will love the play area, which has a large toybox and space for kids to push trucks around, and dogs are also welcome to visit. 79 Potomac Ave. SE.
If you need a break from the basement: Players Club’s Skybox
Player’s Club is a windowless basement bar filled with video games, pool tables and lounge furniture, plus speedy delivery from nearby Shake Shack. Its rooftop Skybox, on the other hand, is an airy spot with fancy cocktails served in silver julep cups — the Red Hot Chili Pineapple Batida, a sweet-and-spicy mix of tequila, pineapple and chile peppers is the standout — and bar stools perched along the deck railing, offering views of Logan Circle and 14th Street. If it wasn’t for the retro-’70s graphics and color scheme, you might not know the two spots were related. The only bother about Skybox can be access: Reaching the roof requires taking a private elevator from Player’s Club, and waiting for your number to be called can take up to half an hour on sunny days. 1400 14th St. NW.
If you’re seeking monumental views: POV at the W Hotel
The W’s POV is probably the most famous rooftop bar in Washington, thanks to its up-close-and-personal views of the Washington Monument, the White House and the Mall. With its 10th anniversary approaching, the hotel is undergoing a $50 million renovation, and POV has gotten an updated look, with lots of dark wood on the patio and a bar inspired by Metro architecture (no, really) indoors. The revamped drink menu features barrel-aged cocktails and some clever jokes — the Yes We Can, made with vodka, limoncello and basil, comes in an actual can emblazoned with a Shepard Fairey-esque portrait of Barack Obama — though prices are steep, with drinks priced at $17 or $20. But when you’re sitting in front of a window with those amazing views, wondering why the Lincoln Memorial looks like it’s set in the middle of a forest, you probably won’t mind. 515 15th St. NW.
The coolest odd couple on Georgia Avenue opened in April. Sonny’s Pizza offers rectangular, Sicilian-style slices with a crunchy crust. No Kisses is a cocktail lounge with bachelor-pad-level mood lighting and crushed velvet booths. The two businesses share owners and a lovely private back patio, accessed from No Kisses, that features picnic tables, planters and trellises. It’s a perfect destination whether you’re famished or thirsty. Order cocktails, wine or beer from the bar at No Kisses and carry them out to a table; order pizza and sandwiches at the counter at Sonny’s and a server will bring it out to the patio when the food’s ready. A cute vintage Citroen truck parked on the patio serves cocktails, wine and beer (with a smaller selection than indoors) and also takes food orders. Babies and dogs are welcome. 3120 Georgia Ave. NW.
If you work downtown and are looking for after-work drinks with a view: The Summit at the Conrad Hotel
Some neighborhoods, such as Shaw and the Wharf, are flush with rooftop bars. But downtown, most of the penthouse space is atop inaccessible office buildings. That’s not the case at the Summit, the bar atop CityCenter’s Conrad Hotel, which opened May 20. (Unlike Estuary, the well-reviewed restaurant and bar downstairs, Summit has no connection with chefs Bryan and Michael Voltaggio.) Take a seat at the canopied bar, an umbrella-shaded table or the low-slung lounge seats and you’ll have a view that might take in the Capitol, a Smithsonian museum and even the Wilson Bridge, with the tip of the Washington Monument in the distance. Frosé and an Aperol spritz are available on draft, while the best cocktails are the most simple. And while there are large couches and tables that can be reserved for groups, most of the seats are open to anyone. 950 New York Ave. NW.
If you’re looking for a boozy taste of the tropics: Tiki TNT
A tiki bar on the water promises a good time, but Tiki TNT delivers more than just potent and fruity drinks. The menu is stocked with classics, such as the Missionary’s Downfall and the 3 Dots and a Dash, but don’t overlook the “not so classic” beverages: The Grog combines lemony verbena tea and the housemade rum packed with allspice notes, while the frozen Rum in Coke is a slushy mix of rum and Coca-Cola served in an actual Coke can. There are multiple levels of outdoor seating, including two bars where the walls roll up like garage doors. The roof offers the choice of dining tables surrounded by bamboo fencing and strung lights, or a shady bar decorated with rum bottles and a mural of palm fronds. 1130 Maine Ave. SW.