5 Must-Visit Hidden Bars in Washington, D.C.
Blame it on renewed nostalgia for the 1920s (see: Boardwalk Empire, The Great Gatsby) but bars off the beaten path are trending in the District. In addition to a certain cachet, these below-the-radar establishments typically have a more refined vibe than the regular D.C. drinking scene, which means fancier sips and no elbowing your way to the bar. Check out these five spots alluring clandestine drinkers.
2 Birds 1 Stone: The unmarked, basement level spot beneath Asian street food eatery Doi Moi belies a serious cocktail bar helmed by Proof and Estadio veteran Adam Bernbach. Expect a well-honed list of about six drinks — four of which are new every week — plus the punch of the day and craft beer in bottles (1800 14th St. NW).
Harold Black: Make like Nucky Thompson at this 1920s inspired speakeasy — named after co-owner Ari Gejdenson’s grandfather — inconspicuously located above Eastern Market’s Acqua Al 2. While a no cellphone or flash photography rule keeps the ambiance feeling legit, a modern day partnership with CityEats makes it possible to score a reservation (212 7th St. SE; 202-540-0459).
Tiki Bar at Jack Rose Dining Saloon: Behind the bathrooms and a set of doors on the Jack Rose rooftop, you’ll find a grass-thatched tiki hut serving up Polynesian-themed drinks with paper umbrellas. Open seasonally Thursday through Saturday starting at 6 PM, expect classic drinks like the Bahia (basically a pina colada) and the Zombie. All tiki cocktails and Polynesian bites are half off during Tiki Thursdays happy hour, which stretches from 5–10 PM (2007 18th St. NW; 202-588-7388).
The Gibson: You wouldn’t know it from the insanity that is now 14th Street, but the unmarked door next to Marvin leads to a candle-lit joint where the cocktail menu is more of a suggestion than a requirement. Open daily at 6 PM, prepare to leave your number with the host and wait nearby for a text when a table is ready... a strict cap on patrons keeps things classy (2009 14th St. NW; 202-232-2156).
PX: The D.C. area’s original speakeasy is still a destination for libations handcrafted by sommelier and mixologist Todd Thrasher, who relies on hand-squeezed juices, housemade bitters and home-brewed tonic. Though you can reserve a spot online, you’ll want to dress up and look for the unassuming blue light visible from the street (728 King St., Alexandria).