The pandemic briefly dried out our cocktail-obsessed city, but bars are back in a big way. The following new high-style drink spots are the antidote to a year-plus of pouched-for-your-couch imbibing.
We could while away an evening—or a boozy brunch—at Apéro (2622 P St., NW), sommelier Elli Benchimol’s glitzy nook of a Champagne-and-caviar bar that feels more Paris than Georgetown. Service is big here: There’s absinthe service, caviar service, and terrific service overall—plus quaffable cocktails such as amaro spritzes along with decadent nibbles. Say yes to the potato waffle with onion crème fraîche and gravlax and to caviar pasta.
New Orleans–style Dauphine’s (1100 15th St., NW) is primed for date-drinks-turned-dinner. Lauded barman Neal Bodenheimer of NoLa’s Cure designed the cocktails, and nothing feels phoned in when you’re seated at the grand white marble bar sipping an expertly mixed Sazerac or Pimm’s cup. We like to match drinks with oysters: raw, baked, or in a silky cream pasta.
Another cheffy favorite: Tim Ma’s Bar Chinois (455 I St., NW), a moody dim-sum-parlor-meets-French-cocktail-haunt helmed by ex–Chaplin’s barwoman Margaux Donati. Tantalizing share plates—think French-onion-soup-inspired “gyoza de boeuf” or Singaporean fried fish—match magnums of Champagne and Calvados daiquiris.
Looking for a pre- or post-dinner drink? Retro-chic Jane Jane (1705 14th St., NW) in Logan Circle channels a Southern living room at cocktail hour with snacks (onion dip, olives) and delightful drinks from veteran bartender J.P. Sabatier. (We love his Scofflaws and French 75s.) On Capitol Hill, reservation-only gin sanctuary The Wells (727 C St., SE) is the place to perch on a plush green sofa and sip something delicious and obscure—say, a floral Japanese gin or tomato-water-spiked cocktail. We also love hiding out at Penn Quarter’s Silver Lyan (900 F St., NW), a whimsical watering hole where masterful British barman “Mr. Lyan” riffs on cosmos, Manhattans, and martinis.