If you’re anything like us, the hot weather has you reaching for all manner of frosty drinks—cold beers, fruity concoctions, sweet glasses of sangría. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a guide to some of our favorite hot-weather happy hours spots—from outside locations that are actually pleasant in the heat to dark and dim basement bars where you can escape the sun and stay cool.
Have more recommendations of happy hours to beat the heat? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll update our post.
If you’re an outdoors sort of person:
Cantina Marina (600 Water St., SW; 202-554-8396). This casual outdoor beach bar on DC’s Southwest breezy waterfront serves barbecue shrimp with Texas toast and Corona-with-lime in cans. Bonus: It has a different happy hour every day of the week. Thursday it’s $4 Red Stripes, Tuesday $3 Tecates, Monday doggie happy hour.
Code Orange Happy Hour at the Omni Shoreham (2500 Calvert St., NW). The Omni Shoreham hotel’s popular Thursday poolside happy hour has returned. Fifteen bucks gets you a tropical drink, use of the locker room, and of course, the opportunity to wade in its shallow pool. Happy hour is 5:30 to 8:30 PM.
Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant (555 S. 23rd St., Arlington; 703-685-0555). This Crystal City gay bar is known more for its popular karaoke nights, but if you want to pretend for an evening that you’re at a Delaware beach drinking a concoction with an umbrella, it’s the place to go. Okay, you’re not really outside and you’re not really at the beach, but the frozen margaritas, thatched bar, and pink plastic flamingos make it easy enough to trick yourself.
Indigo Landing (1 Marina Dr., Alexandria; 703-548-0001). Ever since this waterfront restaurant reopened under new management, the food isn’t what it once was. But it’s still a lovely spot to sit and sip, watch sailboats skim by, and enjoy the breeze. Try a mint julep or order a half bottle of white wine.
Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum (Eighth and F sts., NW; 202-633-1000). You won’t actually be outside in this beautiful glass-enclosed courtyard, but with its lush trees and soaring ceiling you’ll feel as if you are—and the temperature is guaranteed to be bearable. Grab a beer or glass of white wine—the drink menu isn’t anything special, but when you can find a cool spot like this in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Gallery Place, it doesn’t really matter. Drinks served until 6:30 PM.
Splash Poolside Party at the Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Cir., NW). What beats the heat better than a poolside happy hour? This one takes place every Thursday from 6 until 10. The admission fee—$10 in advance, $15 at the door—gets you DJs, cocktails, a cash bar, and a poolside grill. RSVP at euronetinternational.com.
If basement bars are more your thing:
Off the Record at the Hay-Adams (800 16th St., NW; 202 638-6600). If you’re looking for a classic and timeless drinking spot, you can’t do much better than this basement bar at the venerable Hay-Adams hotel. The dark wood paneling, important-looking people in suits, and excellent bartenders will make you forget that humidity even exists.
Recessions (1823 L St., NW; 202-296-6686). With its underground location, grottolike walls, dim lighting, and green carpeting coming up at the seams, Recessions isn’t the most stylish spot in town. But that doesn’t matter because it’s all about what this place does have: awesome after-work beer specials and a cool subterranean location. From 5 to 7, you can get massive “King Kong” 26-ounce draft beers. Recessions is also central to many of the offices and law firms that make up the so-called Golden Triangle, so you can be sure you’ll be sharing your evening with fellow office drones.
Rocket Bar (714 Seventh St., NW; 202-628-7665). For a dressed-down, pull-up-a-stool experience, there’s just one game in town: Rocket Bar, a basement spot that features darts, pool, a jukebox, even old board games. If you’re a fan of the kind of sports you can watch, Rocket Bar’s as good a spot as any, with several flat-screen TVs showing games throughout the bar. The only problem in escaping the heat? You might actually get sweaty during a heated game of shuffleboard.
Science Club (1136 19th St., NW; 202-775-0747). There are several floors of seating and bars at this hip downtown spot, but our favorite is the basement bar, where the concrete floors and low ceilings keep things cool and casual. Happy hour includes specials on wine and Yuengling beer.
Tonic (3155 Mount Pleasant St., NW; 202-986-7661). Relief from the summer sun isn’t the only reason you’ll want to keep returning to Tonic’s Mount Pleasant location—its happy hour will lure you back time after time as well. The half-price plump and juicy specialty burgers are a steal, and you get discounts on rail drinks and beer as well from 5 to 7.