Great Bars 2013: Off the Record

With its walls lined with caricatures of politicos, its
charmingly gruff bartenders, and a clubby vibe, this is the quintessential
Old Washington bar. Power players abound at the stools and tables, too—the
crimson den is hidden in the bottom level of the Hay-Adams hotel, which
faces the White House—and the room buzzes with fast-paced wonk talk. We
tend to stick to the dark-liquor classics here, such as Manhattans and old
fashioneds. If you’re hungry, the crisp Asian-style wings and mini-burgers
are the way to go. Insider tip: Don’t want to jockey for a seat? Avoid
coming right after work and wait till around 8, when the crowd thins out a
bit. Open daily.