The number of rooftop bars in Washington continues to climb, but most of them offer somewhat limited views. That's fine if you just want to get some fresh air with your drinks. But when you want to show off your city to visitors, or impress a date with a superb scenery, you need something a little more impressive.
That's where the new Top of the Gate bar at the Watergate comes in.
The luxury hotel's rooftop bar officially opens on Thursday, offering couches and tables with sweeping views of the Potomac River, Georgetown, Arlington and beyond. The best part: All are welcome to come up for a cocktail or glass of wine on a first-come, first-served basis, even if you're not staying in one of the $835-and-up suites.
Order a drink at the bar and settle into one of the mod pod-shaped chairs, where you can watch boats and kayaks on the water, or the sunset over Rosslyn's towers. There's plenty of room: The sprawling space fits 350 guests.
Top of the Gate's debut cocktail menu is stacked with refreshing drinks: The savory Gin-n-Thyme combines Gin Mare (an herbal Spanish gin) with iced chamomile tea and a syrup of honey, violets and thyme. Cherry vodka, Citronge and lemonade are poured over crushed ice in the gently fruity Summer Freeze, while the Pick Me Up is true to its name, thanks to a mix of green tea and chili-infused tequila.
Sixteen wines are available by the glass, leaning heavily toward whites and rosés for $10 to $18. There will also be bottle service, with Taittinger Brut coming in at $110, and bourbons and most vodkas starting at $350. Cocktails are $16 each; a Heineken, one of the four beers available, costs $9.
There's no respite from the sun on the roof -- no awnings or tents to provide shade -- so Top of the Gate will open at 6 p.m. daily, with service ending at 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. (Those visiting after work might want to apply sunscreen first.)
Drinks will be served on the roof for the first week or so, with full food and beverage service -- including bottle service -- to follow.
Top of the Gate, the Watergate Hotel, 2650 Virginia Ave. NW. 202-827-1600.