Our 6 Favorite Places for Low- and No-Proof Cocktails Around DC

Where to find a nonalcoholic old fashioned (really).

The Imperial’s bar.
Dry January Guide

About Dry January Guide

This article is part of our guide to Dry January around DC. Today’s bartenders are catering to the sober—and the sober-curious—with more sophisticated options than ever. Dry January doesn’t have to mean bland January. Here’s how to (not) drink your way through Washington in style.

The Imperial

This Adams Morgan newcomer—sister to whiskey den Jack Rose—features 16-odd low- and no-proof creations designed to complement the Southern and raw-bar fare. On the low-alcohol side, we’re fans of the Sher-Groni, in which sherry infused with botanicals replaces gin, and a spritely sake-and-tonic with a fermented-cucumber-ginger shrub. Abstaining? Try the wine-like mix of spiced tea and verjus rouge, the juice of unripened red grapes. 2001 18th St., NW.


Bartender Suzy Critchlow can turn any of the six regular cocktails on this Georgetown restaurant’s menu into a spirit-free libation. Yes, even an old fashioned: Her alternative gets similarly rich flavors from Seedlip—a no-proof spirit, here infused with coffee and charred-applewood—and from a miso-peanut solution. 3201 Cherry Hill Ln., NW.

Columbia Room

Drink Company founder Derek Brown pioneered DC’s cocktail revival in the early 2000s, but these days he intermittently abstains from alcohol. Offerings at his Shaw bar reflect the shift. Guests can pick from six zero-proof libations in the à la carte library room or splurge on a $65 nonalcoholic tasting menu. 124 Blagden Alley, NW.

Summer House Santa Monica

This breezy, Cali-inspired eatery in Pike & Rose extends the kitchen’s health kick to the bar. Nonalcoholic drinks are made with fresh fruit juices and herbs. Go for a minty Cucumber Cooler or a strawberry-basil Moco Mommy. 11825 Grand Park Ave., North Bethesda.

King Street Oyster Bar

The lofty new NoMa location of this Leesburg-based seafood house boasts a daily $1 oyster happy hour alongside a variety of drinks from former Pearl Dive Oyster Palace bartender DJ Suan, who is fond of tea infusions and local Italian-style liqueurs. 22 M St., NE.

Dos Mamis

“No proof, low proof, and a whole lotta proof,” is how bar maven Carlie Steiner describes the cocktail menu at the Petworth spot she runs with Anna Bran-Leis. Teetotalers can turn to a “sobrio” menu with rotating Seedlip concoctions such as a juicy Sober Crush, while drinkers can warm up with a winetail. 828 Upshur St., NW.

This article appears in the January 2020 issue of Washingtonian.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.