News & Politics

Some Like It Hot, Some Like It Cool: Indoor and Outdoor Spots for a Summer Drink

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 sangria. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a guide to some of our favorite hot-weather happy-hour 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. This casual outdoor beach bar on DC’s Southwest breezy waterfront serves barbecue shrimp with Texas toast. Bonus: Every day of the week, there’s a different special—a doggie happy hour on Monday, $3 Tecates on Tuesday, Wednesday $3.50 Coronas, and Thursday $4.50 Red Stripes.

Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant. 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 cocktail 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. This waterfront restaurant is 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. 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 bustle of Gallery Place, it doesn’t really matter. Drinks served until 6:30 PM.

If basement bars are more your thing:

Off the Record at the Hay-Adams. 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. With its underground location, grotto-like walls, dim lighting, and peeling green carpeting, 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 8, you can get massive “King Kong” 26-ounce draft beers for only $4. 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. 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. There are several floors of seating and bars at this hip downtown DC spot, but our favorite is the basement bar, where the concrete floors and low ceilings keep things cool and casual. Happy hour (all night Monday, 5 to 8 the rest of the week) includes specials on wine, $3 Yuengling beer, and $4 rail drinks.

Tonic. 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. Still hungry? Try the 50-cent tacos Tuesday night from 8 to 11. Wednesday, the purchase of an appetizer and two entrées gets you a free bottle of wine.