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Expertly made cocktails near Penn Quarter

We're coming in from NYC this weekend and have a 9:30 reservation at Jaleo. We're looking for a place to get a well made cocktail or 2 beforehand. Ideally a place that's not too packed or trendy. Old fashioned over scene-y would also be preferable. In NYC, for reference, we love Employees Only and Little Branch, if that helps. Thanks.

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  1. So much in that area is new -- the classic old D.C. hotel bars are 10 blocks to the west, near the White House. Capital Grille is a chain steakhouse, but it offers some nice clubby atmosphere and its bar might be a good choice in that area.

    District Chop House is nearby and Art Deco-styled, though newish. I can't vouch for the cocktail expertise there.

    PS 7's has a nice drink menu but is more trendy.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bill on Capitol Hill

      Would Caucus Room be quieter than Capital Grill? CG's bar can be a madhouse.
      There's always the bar at 701. A nice jazz combo on weekends. The kind of place where people still order premium scotch on the rocks and real martinis.

      1. re: MakingSense

        I can't recommend 701 ever since I ordered a Pimms Cup and the guy gave me an Old Fashioned glass with just ice and Pimms in it.

    2. There are several places around that that have some interesting cocktails but I'm afraid most are fairly scene-y. My list of favorites: Oya, Proof, Rasika, and Zaytinya

      1. Zola mixes some nice drinks as does Poste. Can't vouch for non scene.

        3 Replies
        1. re: MrsWheatie

          Zola is less sceney, wooden floors, nice bartenders. It isn't a huge bar, but it's nice. Close to Jaleo.

          Other places that fit this bill seem to be further away.

          1. re: ktmoomau

            You don't find Zola scene-y? I think it can draw a large crowd!
            How about just going to the Capitol Grill?

            1. re: KWynn

              Slightly but nothing like Zaytinya or Oya or other places and the bar area feels more old school than poste which is so modern in decor.

              If it is Friday night 701 will probably be pretty busy because I think they are doing a pre-Hirschorn party happy hour thing, but your dinner is so late that it might be over because I think the Hirschorn thing starts at 8.

        2. Cafe Atlantico! I love their pineapple Caipirinha!

          1. For your best drinks, I recommend PS7. Drinks are made with house-made sour mix, which is a rarity.

            However, you don't want trendy. In this neighborhood, most places are pretty trendy. For more classic, I'd second 701 (which has a lovely lounge) or Capitol Grille (an old standby that you'll find very comfortable). You may also consider a short cab ride to Le Bar at the Sofitel hotel. While I haven't had a drink there in a while, it's a very classic lounge.

            All that said, since dinner is later, if you are up for a longer cab ride and a bit of a sight-seeing adventure thrown in, consider the Hay Adams hotel's Off the Record bar on 16th street, neighbor to the White House and a very old-fashioned bar.