Blink and you may miss the flurry of bars opening across Washington. As the temperature drops, these newcomers in particular have something to offer, whether it’s a cozy cabin setting or warm French fare.
Relaxed, low-key and run by a team of Red Derby vets, Jackie Lee’s is our favorite come-as-you-are spot right now. Located up Kennedy Street in Brightwood Park, it features $3 cans of beer, $6 combos and classic cocktails for $9 or less. The bar also houses a vending machine with nonconventional items, including switchblade combs, pregnancy tests and emergency underwear in a can.
116 Kennedy St. NW. 202-882-4000.
Francophiles will shout “J’adore!” upon entering this French wine bar in Brookland. Ostrich-feather chandeliers and weathered walls give the impression that this spot — from husband and wife duo Sebastian Zutant and Lauren Winter — has been around for centuries. Decadent dishes and 45 wines available by the bottle make it a dream date night.
3000 12th St. NE. 202-248-4558.
From Ian and Eric Hilton (the same team that brought you El Rey and the Brixton) comes this bicycle-themed bar steps from the Columbia Heights metro. Formerly Acre 121, Bar Roubaix serves such street food as doner kebab and pastrami-stuffed knish in a cavernous space decorated with reclaimed frames and a chandelier made of tires. There’s also an interactive cycling game: Race against an opponent while your progress is displayed on a large screen.
1400 Irving St. NW.
Eric and Ian Hilton are staying busy this year: If Bar Roubaix (above) wasn't enough, the brothers just debuted another fresh watering hole in the sprawling basement of D.C.'s Pod Hotel. Reminiscent of a whiskey cellar, the dimly lit space — smack dab in the heart of Chinatown — is decorated with hunter-green velvet, plush leather sofas and a wall of taxidermy. The lavish decor and list of classic cocktails will make you wish you owned a fancy smoking jacket and brought a thick Russian novel.
627 H St. NW.
Beneath chef Jeremiah Langhorne’s Mid-Atlantic stunner lies this dimly lit wine bar with its own separate unmarked entrance on Ninth Street. The drink menu, curated by co-owner Alex Zink, includes more than 20 wines by the glass (many from small producers), beer, cider and such cocktails as a mescal negroni. A small menu from Langhorne will rotate frequently and might include charcuterie and cheese, oysters and scallop crudo.
1222 Ninth St. NW.
The owners of the Pug and Solly's — two of our favorite rough-around-the-edges, beer-and-a-shot kind of places — are behind this no-nonsense bar in the historic Union Trust building, just around the corner from the White House. The building's old mailroom has been updated with a long bar, drink rails and wooden booths. Beverages on tap include prosecco, a Manhattan, local craft beers and Miller High Life, which is always $4. (Happy hour features $5 draft beers, prosecco, wines and Jameson shots from 3 to 7 p.m. on weekdays.) There's no kitchen, so feel free to bring in carryout from anywhere in the neighborhood.
740 15th St. NW.
This sister bar to Dupont Circle's board game-themed tavern has multiple bar areas, lounges with sofas and shuffleboard tables. The library of board games at the entrance holds the expected Apples to Apples and Parcheesi, but the real gems are dozens of options from recent decades: Masterpiece: The Art Auction Game, Battle of the Sexes, and both “The Office” and “Friends” trivia games. There are 30 beers to sip while you play; next year, the Board Room will open its own on-site microbrewery with help from Warrenton's Old Bust Head Brewing.
925 Garfield St., Arlington.
600 T Street
This bar is intentionally unnamed and goes by its address so the cocktails can speak for themselves (eye-roll-inducing, we know). It's modeled to look like the inside of a rustic log cabin. Just about everything — including the toilet seat — is made out of wood. The pared-down menu includes 12 cocktails organized by spirit, including a well-balanced mescal drink with bell pepper, agave, basil and lime. Cozy at 700 square feet, this is where you’ll want to head when you need to recharge from holiday stress.
600 T St. NW.