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This vintagey spot has a mellow vibe but an exciting drink list. Options include on-tap tiki cocktails; a Sazerac variation with duck-fat-washed St. Germain, rye and bourbon whiskeys, aged rum, and Bittermens Burlesque bitters; and an eclectic 60-plus-bottle wine list. The menu ranges from snacks to heartier options such as a burger topped with avocado, mozzarella, and enchilada sauce.
1825 18th St., NW; 202-627-2183.
Attached to the Dupont Circle Hotel, Bar Dupont has an airy, stylish feel, an excellent cocktail list, and a loyal army of regulars who descend upon it for happy hour come 4 o’clock. The cocktail list includes creations such as the White Elephant, with Patrón silver, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, and lime and grapefruit juices.
1500 New Hampshire Ave., NW; 202-797-0169.
This Adams Morgan bar is a temple to those most American of spirits, bourbon and rye. Outfitted in raw brick and brushed steel, it appeals to both old–fashioned drinkers and cocktail revivalists. The extensive lists are worth a boozy browse, and the bartenders know how to pour a good Manhattan or Sazerac. There’s also a nice draft beer list and a tasty menu of comfort-food classics including tater tots, mac and cheese, and fries smothered in Old Bay.
2321 18th St., NW; 202-332-0800.
From the team behind Bluejacket,- Birch & Barley, and ChurchKey comes this Dupont addition, housed in a historic building that dates back to 1924. The former carriage house is now a bar area with 26 seats, serving up craft cocktails such as the Nicoulaki, with vodka, Greek yogurt, honey, lemon, and rosemary; and snacks like potato-and-dill fritters with house-made yogurt- sauce. There’s also a patio with plenty of outdoor seating.
1734 N St., NW; 202-524-5202.
You don’t have to know the difference between whiskey and whisky to enjoy this three-story watering hole at the base of Adams Morgan—though the global collection of 1,500-plus bottles is the main attraction. The elegant first-floor saloon, complete with high shelves and rolling ladders, is the best place to expand your brown-liquor knowledge with helpful bartenders and an extensive cocktail list. It’s also a refuge on weekend nights, when a hard-partying crowd claims the terrace and outdoor tiki bar.
2007 18th St., NW; 202-588-7388.
With a modish, stainless-steel bar on the first floor and a picturesque roof deck upstairs, this newly converted rowhouse offers some respite from the hectic Adams Morgan scene. Barkeeps in the brick-walled indoor space mix tipples with creative ingredients, as in the Warmth, with jalapeño-honey syrup, bourbon, and lemon; some draft beers are $6.
2446 18th St., NW; 202-232-7663.
The lounge here feels like the wood-paneled library of a well-worn private club, with a crackling fire and antique sofas. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to sip a glass of sherry, but the craft -cocktails, such as the Tabard, with orange and thyme accents, are worth a try. The light fare—ham-and-cheese croquettes, local oysters—is good, too. Sunday through Tuesday night, there’s live jazz.
1739 N St., NW; 202-331-8528.
At this sleek, recently renovated subterranean bar/lounge, you’ll find some of the city’s friendliest bartenders behind the stick. Along with easygoing banter, they dole out more than 30 wines by the glass, plus plenty of interesting cocktails.
2121 P St., NW; 202-956-6650.
This article appears in Washingtonian’s Welcome Guide.