Tabard Inn, 1739 N St., NW; 202-785-1277. This small Victorian hotel offers turn-of-the-century charm and a fire to keep warm. Relax near the flames with a glass of wine in the cocktail lounge. Once the spirits and fireplace have done their trick, move on the restaurant for a delicious dinner.
Birreria Paradiso, 3282 M St., NW; 202-337-1245. The exposed brick and wooden beams give the basement of Georgetown’s Pizzeria Paradiso a ski-chalet feel. Sip one of Birreria Paradiso’s dark spiced stouts by the fire and imagine you’re just off the slopes in Switzerland. Build your beer repertoire by trying different drafts, which will change as winter progresses.
Sonoma, 223 Pennsylvania Ave., SE; 202-544-8088. Low, white-gray couches and comfortable black chairs are the perfect places to settle in on a cold evening. A fire in the hearth and tea lights on the bar and tables create an intimate atmosphere designed for cold-weather romance. Pick a California or Italian wine to warm you from the inside out—if the flame sitting beside you or the flames in the fireplace haven’t quite done the job.
Circle Bistro, 1 Washington Cir., NW; 202-293-5390. A fire in the hearth, orange-papered walls, honey-colored tables, and orange couches give Circle Bistro’s lounge a decided glow. Be part of the lounge’s radiant personality at happy hour (Monday through Friday 5 to 8), and enjoy half-price cocktails sure to bring a glow to your cheeks. The $5 martini happy hour runs longer than most—from 5 to 8 every weeknight.
Polly’s Cafe, 1342 U St., NW; 202-265-8385. This small neighborhood pub sits in the basement of a U Street townhouse. When the weather outside is frightful, Polly’s lights a crackling fire. Exposed-brick walls, hardwood floors, and winter drink specials (soon to come) add to the intimate ambiance.
Tallula Restaurant, 2761 Washington Blvd., Arlington; 703-778-5051. Renovated last January and fashioned after a British gastropub, Tallula Restaurant has a cathedral-like coziness. The lounge's wooden columns, chandeliers and vermilion walls add to the old-time feel. Try one of the seasonal concoctions, such as an apple cider martini called “Beside Her” or a “Fashionable Jack,” made with Gentleman Jack Daniels, blood orange, a dash of bitters and brown sugar.
There might be no better warm winter spot in the city than in front of the crackling fireplace in the lobby lounge of the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown (3100 South St., NW; 202-912-4100). Historical note: The hotel’s building was once the neighborhood’s incinerator.
Arranged with overstuffed russet armchairs, coffee-table books, and a Steinway baby grand (a pianist tinkles away until midnight on weekends), the brick-lined space has the feel of a luxe loft. During the day, you can relax over the morning newspaper or an afternoon tea. At night, the mood stays civilized—a wilder party can be found in the adjacent Degrees lounge—as conversation is kept at a low din over flutes of Champagne and bitters and rum-and-grenadine cocktails. Even the small food (free bowls of wasabi peas) packs some heat.
One of our favorite parts of Old Town’s Restaurant Eve (110 S. Pitt St., Alexandria; 703-706-0450) is its firelit no-reservations lounge, where you can graze among Cathal Armstrong’s bar snacks and sip such drinks as a black-currant fizz.
Want more cozy winter nightlife ideas? Try out this list of the best wintry cocktails that will warm your stomach and your soul, like the Jingle Tingle at Hank's Oyster bar, a concoction of ginger-infused rum, light crème de cacao, hazelnut and cinnamon liqueurs, and coffee—and topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream.
Do you have a favorite bar you like to curl up in when it's cold outside? Leave it in the comments!
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