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Craft Cocktails

I'm from the Boston area and I visit New York occasionally. Right now, I'm in love with the fact that so many bars focus on craft cocktails. In Boston, I love to go to Eastern Standard, Drink and No. 9 Park. In New York; Flatiron Lounge, Death & Co., Little Branch, Pegu Club (and so on and so on).

What does DC have to offer? I'm going to be in town in the next month, and I'd love to try the best of the best.

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  1. Everyone is going to tell you the same thing: make a reservation for the Columbia Room. It's located inside The Passenger by the Convention Center on 7th St NW, and if you can't go there (max reservation size is 4) try the bar at The Passenger. Don't go there and get a table, it's not the same.

    Other suggestions would be The Gibson, the lounge at PS7, the bar at Cafe Atlantico (although small, I've had amazing cocktails there time after time). I like the bar at Ris, also. A lot.

    I've heard Proof, and I love wine tasting there, but I have not been impressed with their cocktails.

    One of my favorite cocktails in the city is the Jose Andres Gin and Tonic at Jaleo. Show up around 4:30 or 5pm, grab a table in the lounge, have discounted tapas and this amazing drink with a beautiful ice globe, juniper berries, lemon and lime, a bay leaf, and imported tonic. Good stuff.

    In some edition of the Post, Tom Sietsema listed his top 10 cocktails in the city, but I can't find it now, just a list of best cocktail bars, but that Jose Andres G&T was on there.

    Rereading your post, if you're looking for a good scene, stick with Passenger or Gibson - the others are restaurant lounges, which tends to be where many of the best cocktails are in this area. POV lounge at the W has a good scene, but the drinks are better downstairs at J&G.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Raids

      In addition to those recommendations, I actually think the drinks at Central are quite good.

      1. re: Raids

        These are great suggestions (at least, the places I'm familiar with are).

        In order of decreasing preference, I'd go Columbia Room, Gibson, Passenger, and I'll add Firefly--lots of delicious house-infused liquors, and the bartenders mix a really nice cocktail.

        Also, just to second Raids, the Jaleo G&T is kind of a sleeper, since it's not really what you'd expect from a) a tapas place, which b) is pretty touristy. But it's fantastic, maybe the best G&T I've ever had.

      2. Hello fellow Bostonian! DC has quite a bit to offer in this department. My personal favorite is PS7. Gina, the mixologist, will hook you up! They have a special seasonal punch every night and lots of seasonal rotating cocktails. They are all delicious! Plus an added benefit is PS7 has an excellent bar menu (try one of the flatbreads and the tuna tartar sliders).

        -----
        PS7 Restaurant
        777 I Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001

        1. I would also add Againn to the list.

          If you can make it to Virginia PX is the ultimate experience in my book.

          3 Replies
          1. re: ktmoomau

            I agree with Againn as well. I went there recently and had a delicious Pimm's Cup made with ginger beer. One of the best drinks I've had in a long time and not what I was expecting (in a good way!).

            1. re: Elyssa

              I've actually never had a cocktail at Againn, but will give it shot - good to know, thanks!

              1. re: Raids

                I had a cocktail at Againn containing a very hot pepper that was fabulous.

          2. I'd definitely second just about all of the previous suggestions. The Columbia Room is a must. Gibson is nice.

            The 2 I'd add to the list are PX, in Old Town Alexandria and Wisdom, in SE DC just off Capitol Hill. PX is a fantastic speakeasy style cocktail bar that really goes over the top on homemade ingredients and fantastically creative drinks. Wisdom is a bit off the beaten path, but well worth it. It is quite small but a lot of fun. They make some really nice drinks there, especially the Tortoise and the Bare.

            1. PX offers the best craft cocktails I've ever had. Delicious and truly inventive. Todd Thrasher makes his own tonics and syrups. One particularly stands out; it was a smoke-themed cocktail made with a particularly smokey single malt scotch mixed with a single drop of a distilled tobacco "tea." Coming to DC for craft cocktails and missing PX would be a crime.

              http://www.restauranteve.com/eamonns/...

              11 Replies
              1. re: monkeyrotica

                It's just not that easy to get to Old Town Alexandria from the District. What do most people do? Water taxi? Metro and walk the mile to the harbor area? There are so many places I like in Old Town, but it's hard to want to head over for a night when it's such a hassle (relatively) to get there and back. I could use some tips if there is a better way.

                1. re: Raids

                  When I lived downtown, I would regularly Metro/walk/cab to PX. For some of the best cocktails in the area, it's worth my time, money, and effort.

                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                    Ah, so no faster way. I have admit, it's tempting, but hard to justify when the Passenger is less than half a mile from my place and I still haven't been to PS7 a few blocks away...let me ask this then, is it often busy? What I mean is, once I've invested the time to get there, and I guaranteed to get some kind of seating for two?

                    1. re: Raids

                      I've found that it never really gets crowded, mostly because a lot of people don't even know it's there. There's no sign. Just the blue light and flag outside telling those in the know that PX is open. Staff are really conscious about keeping the vibe chill. It's about enjoying a nice cocktail and conversation in relaxed surroundings, not having to scream your order at the barkeep over a three-deep crowd of drunks. There is usually a line on Friday/Saturday evenings after 8pm (it's quite small, but comfortable). Before then, I've never had a problem getting in (I usually go Thursdays). I have enjoyed cocktails at Passenger, PS7, Marvin, Round Robin, Central, Gibson, Bourbon, and Wisdom. But the ones that linger longest in my memory have been the ones I've had at PX.

                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                        Ooh, you had me at three-deep crowd of drunks...I'm sold.

                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                          When I lived in Old Town, I would go on Wednesdays, and never had to wait; if you go as a singleton, even weekends aren't that bad of a wait usually.

                          Also, if they do have a wait, you can always head a block west on King St. to Majestic, which has a similar (if less extensive) drink menu also run by Todd Thrasher.

                          1. re: sweth

                            Agreed. Majestic's cocktail list, although limited, has some real gems. Their Mint Julep is a textbook classic: fresh muddled mint, simple syrup, bourbon, served in a frosty pewter cup. Not exactly a December drink, but it was just what I was looking for in the middle of August.

                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                              On the weekends I have found it is best to make a reservation at PX then you don't have to wait. I do love that they keep it not crowded so you can converse and enjoy.

                              Unfortunately there isn't a great way to get to it with public transportation. There is the free trolley, but it runs every 30 minutes. If it is nice I will walk because it is North of Washington St., but when it is cold cab would prob be necessary.

                    2. re: Raids

                      Metro to King St, take the (free) King St trolley to Columbus & King, walk half a block south. Enjoy tasty libations, and replay in reverse.

                      1. re: Raids

                        There used to be an Old Town free shuttle that went the length of King Street from the Metro station to the waterfront. Is it gone? Or no longer free and frequent?

                        1. re: MikeR

                          Thanks! I looked it up and the King Street trolley is still running. However, it only passes by every 20 minutes, so you could probably do the walk in the same amount of time, which always makes me feel terribly lazy. But if I am ever so masochistic as to plan on hanging out on those sidewalks in heels, I'll plan on taking the trolley.

                    3. You ought to try the Sidebar in Silver Spring. It's connected to Jackie's, a really good restaurant. Really good craft cocktails in a beautiful historic space with wood floors. And it's not as expensive as some places. It's just a few blocks from the SS metro station on Georgia Avenue.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Glindathegood1

                        What sort of price point are we talking about?

                      2. Just wanted to thank you all for the reviews -- hit the Gibson, Columbia Room (scored a last-minute reservation), and Jaleo this past weekend. I lived in DC for seven years but wasn't into the cocktail scene at the time, so your thoughts were tremendously helpful. Columbia Room was SUBLIME -- I did the tasting menu and they had me at the very first cocktail, a blend of Calvados, rum, and brandy with apple cider and lemon sugar. My friend, normally an abstemious sort who sticks strictly to wine (if anything) had two cocktails! Wonderful drinks at the Gibson and Jaleo (that recommendation for the gin/Fever Tree tonic cocktail was right on the mark) as well. But Columbia Room was my favorite -- the combination of the serene setting, knowledgeable but not pretentious bartenders, and truly stellar drinks was a winner. Better than any experience I've had in NYC.