Washington, D.C.'s 10 Hottest Bars of 2012
District skeptics need look no further than the past 12 months for affirmation of Washington’s thriving, forward-thinking and ever-diverse bar culture. From a “philanthropub” that donates its profits and a sand-drenched beach bar to watering holes inspired by Brazil, Germany, Mexico and England, this year’s bar openings proved that D.C. is a destination for drink lovers.
Range: Sneaking in just in time for 2012, this highly anticipated eatery in Chevy Chase Pavilion from chef Bryan Voltaggio is also home to an equally accomplished mixologist: Owen Thomson, previously Think Food Group’s beverage director and the mastermind behind the meticulously researched cocktail offerings at America Eats Tavern, is now head honcho behind this marble bar (5335 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202-803-8020).
Satellite Room: You can’t go wrong with a place that serves “burgers, beer and adult milkshakes” late into the night. This 1960s-inspired diner behind the 930 Club is part of the Hilton Brothers’ U Street empire and whips up boozy shakes named after bygone T.V. characters — the “A.C. Slater,” for example, is a curious mix of avocado and Jose Cuervo (2047 9th St. NW).
Eddy Bar at Hank's on the Hill: “Mixtress” Gina Chersevani is the brains behind the beverage program at the latest outpost of Hank’s Oyster Bar, where you can get insanely delicious house-made sodas (we die for the blueberry) or any one of Chersevani’s eccentric cocktails. Case in point: The PT-109, named after JFK’s sunk “Patrol Torpedo” boat (633 Pennsylvania Ave. SE; 202-733-1971).
Society Fair: From the team behind Alexandria’s Restaurant Eve, the focal point of this gourmet shop-slash-wine bar is a demonstration kitchen around which patrons can watch how to prepare (and then eat) a three-course meal on most nights of the week. We also recommend stopping in at this self-proclaimed “lifestyle food market” for a sip at the bar — and then buying a bottle for later (277 S. Washington St., Alexandria; 703-683-3247).
Cause: This “Philanthropub” opened on 9th street in the fall and is truly changing the standard idea of charitable giving. With every beer you buy, you help beneficiaries such as Agora Partnerships, Common Good City Farm, Higher Achievement and Martha’s Table; 100% of the bar’s profits are donated to a handful of organizations selected by an established advisory board (1926 9th St. NW; 202-588-5220).
New York Avenue Beach Bar: Umbrellas, a tiki hut and real sand that you can sink your toes into make this newcomer a truly unique watering hole. It’s only open seasonally, but you can bet your next daiquiri that we’ll be there following the first signs of spring (645 New York Ave.; 202-656-9229).
The Brixton: An expansive roofdeck overlooking prime U Street real estate makes this a notable 2012 addition thanks to location alone. The plethora of outdoor fans is an added bonus that makes outdoor drinking almost bearable during even the most humid D.C. summer nights (901 U St. NW; 202-560-5045).
Tropicalia: A long time in the making, this bar and venue brings art and music together in a thumping, colorful ode to the 1960s Brazilian movement of the same name. Grab a Caipirinha and check the calendar for the latest lineup of live acts and featured DJs (2001 14th St. NW; 202-629-4535).
El Chucho: This casual, diner-style Mexican joint in Columbia Heights proffers nine different margaritas, including the $5 El Codo on tap that can be rimmed with chile-lime salt. On the other end of the price spectrum, the $25 Rico Suave — made with Don Julio 1942 — is an option for serious tequila drinkers (3313 11th St. NW; 202-290-3313).
Döner Bistro: Though most of the focus at this Adams Morgan eatery has been on its Berlin-inspired street food, the German beer selection is not to be overlooked. Boasting as many as 41 brews by the bottle, Döner is a great place to make new friends: You’ll find communal-style tables inside and out (1654 Columbia Rd. NW; 202-462-8355).