Asylum. With its faux-stone walls, Gothic chandeliers, and crimson drapes on the ceiling, Asylum evokes a medieval vampire’s lair. The small, dark bar frequently hosts local bands. It also offers one of the best drink deals around: During the High Life Countdown on Saturdays, drafts of Miller High Life are 50 cents starting at 5 and go up 50 cents every hour until 11. Happy hour—weekdays 5 to 8—features $4 rail drinks and 50-cent wings.
Black Squirrel. Named for rare variety of squirrels seen around Washington, this bar stocks more than 70 draft and bottled beers, boasting one of the most extensive beer lists in Adams Morgan. Join the neighborhood crowd at the bar or perch at one of the high tables near the exposed-brick wall. The the old movie posters can be good conversation starters.
Bourbon. The owners transformed an old stone house into this bourbon lover’s paradise. The inside is dark yet warm and inviting, and the main draw—the bar—features a large array of bourbons, whiskies, and Scotches. For those knowledgeable about bourbon, the wide selection can be exciting, but don’t shy away from the place if you’re a neophyte; the cleverly crafted cocktails are tasty.
Grand Central. This bar draws inspiration from the architecture of Washington’s Metro system; the rounded ceiling and parts of the walls are painted to mimic a station’s interior. Grand Central is a sizeable place with multiple rooms divided among three floors. Expect it to be crowded on weekends with a young crowd. A DJ spins dance tracks Thursday through Saturday, and drink specials are offered every night of the week. We like double-drink night on Mondays, when all drinks come in pint glasses for the same price as a normal-size glass.
Madam’s Organ. This bar was picked by Playboy as one of the best bars in the United States and the best in DC. The neon sign out front reads, “Sorry, We’re Open,” and a larger-than-life, well-endowed redheaded madam who looks down on visitors is painted on the side of the building. This restaurant/bar offers live music seven nights a week and has a soul-food menu with plenty of spice and deep-fried options.
Napoleon. With its rich black-red-and-gold decor, this upscale bar offers traditional Champagne cocktails and seasonal drinks. Visit during happy hour—Sunday through Thursday 5 to 8—and many drinks are half price. Pair your bubbly with escargots ($8) or a savory crepe ($7 to $11). Or stop by on the weekend for the Parisian-inspired brunch of egg dishes and sweet crepes. Complete your meal with a mimosa or Bellini.
Pharmacy Bar. Normally we advise steering clear of Adams Morgan on weekends unless you enjoy marauding crowds, but we’ll make an exception for Pharmacy Bar. The themed bar (pill bottles and medicine cabinets decorate the space) is small and often crowded with hipsters and bike messengers. To pass the time, you can play Buck Hunter or tabletop Pac-Man, listen to the great jukebox, or grab a stool in the window overlooking 18th Street.
The Reef. A bar with a loose ocean theme, the Reef is a three-level space—two inside floors and a rooftop deck—that features fish tanks full of ocean life. A large bar is in the middle of the second floor, and tables and booths are scattered around the edge of the room. If you’re lucky enough to claim one, the big squishy booths are a great home base when the bar gets crowded. The rooftop is the main draw, but if there are too many people, bouncers will institute a one-out/one-in policy.
Toledo Lounge. This Ohio-themed dive is a local favorite. Opened by “refugees from the political scene,” the owners, a pair of sisters, have created a space where politicians, students, tourists, and artists alike enjoy the unpretentious neighborhood vibe. From the funky interior to the top-notch happy-hour specials to the delicious bar food, Toledo Lounge is worth a visit.
Ventnor Sports Cafe. Sports fans enjoy to this multilevel bar in the center of Adams Morgan. Filled with numerous TVs, it’s a good place to catch the sporting event of your choice while munching on a free bag of popcorn. With daily food and drink specials, Ventnor’s offers good deals on traditional bar food such as 35-cent wings on Mondays and half-price burgers on Tuesdays. Can’t find a game you want to watch? Take a spin playing one of the Nintendo Wiis or multiple board games for free.