There are almost too many bars in D.C. With so many different options, it’s easy to fall into a paralysis of choice. So we’d like to advocate for a type of bar that often gets overlooked by those who actually live in the city: the hotel bar.
Sure, you’re likely to visit a hotel bar when you’ve arrived in a city outside of Washington, D.C., but the DMV offers some of its very best bars in hotels all around town. In our breakdown of the 10 best, you’ll find District institutions, inventive spins on classic literature and cutting-edge cocktail techniques. Don’t even get us started on the decor, which itself makes them all worth seeking out.
Next time you’re thinking about hitting a bar after work, or when you need a new spot to entertain someone from out of town, consider one of these 10 D.C. hotel bars.
Nestled in the basement of the Riggs in Chinatown, Silver Lyan is the first bar outside of Europe from mixologist extraordinaire Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan. What makes Silver Lyan stand out is the way in which they put together and source their cocktails — their unique, bold and often mad scientist-like approach often evokes another legendary European outpost: Noma. Drinks include flourishes like carrot mead, bee larvae, shrimp and grilled peach. That’s to say nothing of their food menu, which features hash browns shaped like coins to match the vault setting of the bar itself.
The Hay-Adams’ signature bar, Off The Record, is such a beloved D.C. institution that there’s no need to protect any source who may have sung its praises. Located kitty-corner from the White House, the underground bar is clad in decor fit for Woodward and Bernstein — plush red sofas, rich caramel tables and a fireplace. Here you’ll find a romanticized, older version of D.C., so stop by if you’re interested in taking a trip back in time.
If Bourbon Steak isn’t a compelling enough reason to head to the Four Seasons in Georgetown, the Lounge should do the trick. Here, you’ll find elevated classic cocktails, as well as unique Bourbon Steak-inspired takes on drinks, including the Yo, You Got Beef?!, which features wagyu fat-washed bourbon, vermouth and a smoky finish. The interior feels much like the rest of the restaurant — dark, lush and ready for you to indulge in all kinds of decadently rich textures and flavors.
Mount Vernon Square
Come tumble down the rabbit hole at Allegory, which draws inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Art from Erik Thor Sandberg lines the bar as he reinterprets the classic tales through the perspective of Ruby Bridges. The drinks themselves take on a mystical, fairytale-like quality, like the Garden of Live Flowers, described as “if a Mai Tai was grown in a garden,” or the Eden, a take on the Ramos Gin Fizz which tastes like a boozy orange soda. You’ll never know what kind of wondrous treats await on the other side of the Eaton DC’s hidden door.
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If you look at the website for the Doyle (located inside the Dupont Circle Hotel), you’ll notice a dedicated section titled “Vibe.” It’s fitting, as the bar area feels more like sitting inside the living room of someone with immaculate taste rather than your typical cocktail den. However, looks only get you so far — but the Doyle has plenty of good drinks to go around, too, including the El Zorro, which features both mezcal and tequila and a dash of Habanero bitters for a nice kick.
Dupont’s other worthwhile hotel watering hole is that of Tabard Inn. Similar to Off the Record in its decidedly retro feel, here you’ll find wood-paneled walls and the glint of flickering, flirting candlelight. Tabard Inn’s throwback atmosphere feels en vogue when compared to the assaultive extra-ness of some modern bar interiors. The longest continuously operating hotel in D.C., the Inn is an outright classic, reflected in their take on traditional cocktail favorites like the Sazerac.
It’s hard to decide the best part of Kimpton Hotel Monaco’s Dirty Habit — between the beautiful patio and the modern interior complete with grand windows to let the light in on a beautiful day. Naturally, it’s probably the drinks, which pull inspiration from everywhere, whether it’s the Flying Nimbus with vodka, Lillet, St. Germain, passionfruit and egg white, or mochi cake as a component for a Clarified Banana Daiquiri. No matter what your final excuse is for going, don’t be surprised if Dirty Habit becomes part of your weekly routine.
A personal favorite (yours truly met his eventual significant other here), the Line Hotel’s bar has featured as many name changes as Jay-Z. Its current iteration, No Goodbyes, retains the Line’s impressive interior while offering two distinctive slates of cocktails. The Old Dogs are traditional spins on beloved favorites like the Manhattan or Negroni, while the New Tricks section is all new formulations. A standout includes the Bay Cruiser G&T, which is gin, blood orange, bay leaf and tonic. That’s the kind of fun we always like to see on a bar menu.
Thanks to its stunning interior, which includes rich woods and red velvet, you may confuse drinking inside the St. Regis bar for being instead a palatial castle. That’s completely reasonable, as the drinks are just as regal as the decor, with a rotating seasonal menu that caters to the season. While the drinks may change, the impressive and majestic space won’t.
Technically, the Crimson has two bars, one in the basement and one on the roof, but we prefer the subterranean whiskey den. The platonic ideal of what you want a whiskey bar to look like (that includes taxidermy animals on the back walls), the expansive space (15-foot-high ceilings!) has more than enough seating at its extended bar and its surrounding tables to for you to show up with a group. Cocktails include house takes on the Manhattan and Old Fashioned, of course, but also outliers like frozen drinks or even a Kabocha Sour with Suntory Toki and homemade pumpkin syrup.
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