10 Best D.C. Bars for Summer
While D.C.’s summer heat might make for bad hair days and professional wardrobe malfunctions, the long days and temperate temps present some excellent drinking opportunities. From beer gardens and bocce courts to rooftop getaways and water-based watering holes, here are 10 summer-worthy drinking destinations in the District.
New York Avenue Beach Bar: There is perhaps no better summer spot in D.C. than the New York Avenue Beach Bar, which combines sand (70 tons, to be exact), frozen bevvies and beers by the can to transport you to the shore. Check your shoes at the door, grab a daiquiri from the tiki hut and nab a shady spot under an umbrella — you’ll (almost) forget that you’re spending summer in the swamp (645 New York Ave.; 202-656-9229).
Meridian Pint: With a sizable sidewalk seating area and roll-up aluminum garage doors, this Columbia Heights bar and restaurant makes it easy to catch the breeze while enjoying a craft brew on draft. If the scorching rays become unrelenting, have no fear: the joint’s basement level offers reprieve from the heat and tap-equipped booths where you can pour your own pint (3400 11th St. NW; 202-588-1075).
Biergarten Haus: Take a mini vacay to Germany without leaving Washington at this Atlas District spot, which offers an expansive beer garden and occasional polka player clad in lederhosen. With German brews available by the pint as well as communal-style wooden tables (that, collectively, seat as many as 300 people in the courtyard) you’ll easily meet new friends...or spark a vacation-style romance (1355 H St. NE; 301-775-4710).
Surfside: There’s something about fresh Mexican food that feels like summer; find it in bounds (along with tasty margaritas, natch) at this casual Glover Park eatery, where you can kick back with a bucket of craft beers or one of the “island drinks” on the rooftop. Channel the tropics with Millie’s Madaket Mystery (a punch made with four varieites of rum) or go on a Wednesday night to enjoy half-priced margarita pitchers (2444 Wisconsin Ave.; 202-337-0004).
Standard: This 14th Street BBQ joint and beer garden is always buzzing with patrons in search of Memphis-style ribs and sizable glasses of draft brew. Standard pulls inspiration from the South in more ways than one: prepare to loiter for a table and then enjoy a leisurely few rounds once you have one — this is one D.C. spot lacking the go-go-go city hustle (1801 14th St. NW).
Masa 14: With a recently unveiled rooftop and a new cocktail list to match, you can imbibe every variety of summer cocktail, including sangria, margaritas, mojitos and four versions of the caipirinha, from a sunny locale above 14th Street. Trying to beat the heat? A sizable covered bar area means shade is never far away, and the strawberry lemonade makes for a deliciously spiked summer refresher (1825 14th St. NW; 202-328-1414).
Donovan House Rooftop Bar: Thomas Circle’s Donovan House recently changed ownership to become a Kimpton Hotel, and that means good things for the rooftop bar. No longer marked with a “clubby” vibe, this equal-access urban escape features a pool around which you can sip serious cocktails, including several versions of D.C.’s famous rickey (1155 14th St. NW; 202-379-4366).
Vinoteca: There aren’t many wine bars that boast as much outdoor real estate as U Street’s Vinoteca, which also offers happy hour every day of the week. Sip a glass of Pinot Grigio and engage in some people-watching on the sidewalk patio, or gather a few friends for a game of bocce out back (1940 11th St. NW; 202-332-9463).
Cantina Marina: You can’t get much closer to the water than this Mexican restaurant and bar on the Southwest waterfront; the two-story spot, bedecked in string lights and kitschy palm trees, is located on a pier surrounded by the Potomac. The drinks aren’t fancy here — find standard margaritas and cheap beer — but the atmosphere is unbeatable (600 Water St. SW; 202-554-8396).
Reef: A tropical getaway may not be in the forecast this summer, but a jaunt to Adams Morgan can get you there in spirit. While it’s the beer list you’ll find most interesting on the beverage front — there are 14 on tap and a more unusual variety than you might expect — the collection of glowing tropical fish tanks creates an exotic, relaxed vibe. Need some fresh air? The three-story bar offers a rooftop, too (2446 18th St. NW; 202-518-3800).