Cocktail Tour: Washington DC

The cocktail scene in Washington DC is one of the best in the country. With names like Derek Brown and Todd Thrasher who led the charge, there is so much talent in the city today. On a recent visit to DC, my cocktail guide, and local bartender, Rico Wisner led me from bar to bar as we drank our way through the city. Here are some of the highlights (although this is just a short list of some of the best bars):

855 E St NW (between N 9th St & N 8th St), Washington, DC 20004


Barmini is Chef José’s Andres’ culinary cocktail lab in the space adjoining his restaurant Minibar. More than one hundred artisan cocktails are crafted and served with the same care and attention to detail as the dishes at minibar. Like all of Jose Andres’ creations, barmini is like nothing you’ve seen before and each cocktail is a work of art. Barmini has set the bar high for avant-garde cocktails.


Please note that this is not the kind of bar that you can just walk into.  Plan ahead and make a reservation.  You will then be given the code to get in the door, where you will entire an eclectic space like no other.


Hogo Bar
1017 7th St NW (between N New York Ave & N Mount Vernon Pl), Washington, DC 20001

Hogo Bar in DC takes a tropical spin in a local bar atmosphere. With Hawaiian food and a great selection of rums and creative cocktails, this is a fun place to dine and drink. In the back of the bar is a pop-up restaurant that has served as the outpost for a number of chefs as they take their cuisine to the next level. This is a great place for a casual night out for people who love their cocktails.

The Passenger
1021 7th St NW (between N New York Ave & N Mount Vernon Pl), Washington, DC 20001

Just a few doors down from Hogo, is The Passenger. Owned by Derek Brown, the vibe, the music and the mixologists give this place the ultimate DC bar feel. The ambiance is very laid back and the layout is great for friends catching up over a drink. The service and staff is also topnotch and very inviting. If you’re in the mood for a bite, there are excellent items such as the kimchi tacos, pork cheek nachos, and even chicken and waffles!


Columbia Room
1021 7th St NW, (between N Mount Vernon Pl & N New York Ave), Washington, DC 20001

Located in the back of The Passenger is the small, reservation-only Columbia Room. Columbia Room specializes in the tradition of the original cocktail – a combination of spirits, sugar, water and bitters. Cocktails are made using the highest quality spirits mixed with their own handmade cordials, bitters and tinctures, as well as hand-carved ice.  From service to the cocktails, the 10-seat Columbia Room is an intimate experience.  The ultimate experience is the $69 drink tasting menu, including an opening drink, a seasonal drink paired with an amuse bouche and a third drink of your choice customized by your bartenders.

1337 14th St NW Washington, DC 20005

For those who like to keep it simple and try something new other than cocktails, ChurchKey is the place to be. Specializing in beer, they have an extensive menu full of draughts you could have never imagined. Their draught menu includes: crisp (delicate fruit), hop (earthy & dry), authentic ale, malt (fruit & toffee), roast (soft & silky), tart & funky, and fruit & spice. As you can tell, this menu has something for everyone and with so many options you just might have to try a few.

Jack Rose
2007 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

If you’re in the mood for something different and you like choices, Jack Rose is an awesome bar to stop by. Jack Rose has a dining saloon, open-air terrace, balcony room, tiki bar and whiskey cellar. Each has a different look and feel and a different drinks list. With so many options, how does one choose? Well, their cocktails are a combination of classics and modern creations at a fairly reasonable price. The tiki bar offers more tropical infused concoctions.


Just outside of DC in Arlington, Virginia…….

Bar TNT 
2413 Columbia Pike, Arlington 22204

While not in DC, Bar TNT is worth the visit. Bar TNT is a project of Todd Thrasher, “the granddaddy of grown up drinks”, who has crafted cocktails at the PX, Restaurant Eve, Virtue and Society Fair. Bar TNT pays tribute to rock n roll from its environment to its drink titles. And, if you get hungery, the bar shares the space with a chipper (fish and chips)