Wednesday, June 19, is National Martini Day, and I vote we skip the customary preamble about how it’s always national something day and just revel in the fact that we live in the world’s best city for drinking martinis.
I’m not claiming our bars make the best martinis—that would be a highly contestable statement. What I’m saying is, no drink says “Washington” like a martini. It’s what you drink when you’re a fat-cat lobbyist about to close a power deal. What lawyers and consultants order when wooing deep-pocketed clients. When you’re an elected official about to initiate an ill-advised affair with an intern, what cocktail do you buy that intern? That’s right: a martini. Without further ado, here are five places to get one.
The stalwart seafood spot celebrates the holiday with the cocktail from which our modern-day martini evolved: the Martinez. Head there Wednesday evening to try one with Hayman’s Old Tom gin, Dolin and Carpano Antica vermouths, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, house-made orange bitters, and an orange twist.
This off-the-radar Silver Spring eatery isn’t really a power spot, but it needs to be included here due to its very delicious, very martini-friendly bar snacks. Think house-smoked salmon, rabbit rilletes, bacon-topped deviled eggs, and oven-roasted almonds. Rail drinks are $5 during a 4-to-7 happy hour, though a rail martini is no way to celebrate National Martini Day. Try Plymouth gin and Dolin with a twist, especially if you opt for the salmon.
Maybe it’s the glass storefront—passersby always peek in to see who is posted up at the bar—but the Majestic strikes me as the most social of the Todd Thrasher-run bars, and the classy, straightforward approach feels just right for martinis.
Off the Record
In this case, it’s really not about what’s in your glass. The massive cocktails at this Hay-Adams bar range from just-okay to kind-of-terrible, but it doesn’t matter—because it is the ultimate Washington martini bar, and you’re too busy spotting someone “Beltway famous” to worry about the skunky vermouth in your drink.
A beautiful bar that consistently turns out impeccable cocktails and is almost never overcrowded. The devil is in the details when it comes to a perfect martini, and that devil is no match at all for the fastidious folks behind the bar at Frank Ruta’s Cleveland Park restaurant.