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5 Best Bars in D.C.

Washington D.C., formerly known as the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or merely D.C., is the capital city of the United States and one of the most emblematic cities in the world.

Needless to say, Washington D.C. is a city that hosts hundreds of amazing sights and attractions, so many, in fact, that it would be impossible to see them all in a single stay.  From the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, to the Smithsonian Institute Museum, to the Capitol Building and the White House, home of the president of the United States, Washington D.C. is a city jam-packed with must-see attractions, making it one of the world’s hotbeds for national and international tourism.

And while Washington D.C. is always bustling with locals and tourists by day, it is equally busy come nightfall, when many thirsty sightseers head out to sample some of the city’s amazing restaurants, bars and cocktail lounges, of which there are hundreds.  In the following piece, we will introduce you to just a handful of these popular bars, pubs, and lounges, and provide a description of each destination, including the drink and food menu available at each location, the usual crowd that populates them, and the various amenities that make each so popular among locals and tourists.

The Round Robin

Located near the White House and Capitol Hill, at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue, the Round Robin is a bar located within the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, which regularly hosts important dignitaries from around the globe.  The bar offers a full medley of classic cocktails and an impressive wine list longer than your arm.

The Round Robin is also a very iconic drinking establishment, one that is filled with history and lore.  American literary figures Walt Whitman and Mark Twain are said to have tipped a few drinks at the Round Robin, which is also where the famous U.S. and Kentucky statesman Henry Clay concocted the world’s first Mint Julep, now the drink of choice at the renowned Kentucky Derby horse race.

Wisdom

Located just blocks away from the presidential mansion, at 1432 Pennsylvania Avenue, the bar known as Wisdom is generally considered one of the best free-standing (not a hotel bar) cocktail lounges on Capitol Hill—a place where it is not uncommon to see Congressman and Senators hashing out a deal over drinks.

A very swanky cocktail lounge, the most popular order at Wisdom is gin, served either as a martini or mixed with refreshing tonic.  This is not surprising, as the bar is closely affiliated with the Philadelphia gin producer Blue Coat Gin.  In addition to gin-based drinks and other classic creations, the bar offers a very inventive menu of fruity cocktails, including their Pears of Wisdom, made with pear and elderflower liqueurs; the absinthe-based Captain Jack’s Green Sparrow, and the cucumber vodka and sake-based Saketini.

The bar menu includes some tasty and original snacks, including Boozy Bacon Waffles and a variety of outstanding sandwiches made fresh to order.

Chi-Cha Lounge

As you might infer from the name, the Chi-Cha Lounge is a Latin-themed bar modeled almost exactly after a real Mexican Hacienda—a hacienda once owned by the bar’s owner Mauricio Fraga’s grandmother.  The lounge, which is located at 1624 West U Street in the Dupont Circle region of Washington D.C., is known for its great Latin jazz music and comfortable furnishings that allow patrons to relax and stretch out.

The drink selections at the Chi-Cha Lounge include a variety of bottled beer from around the world, including an unprecedented selection of Mexican and Latin American brews, as well as a comprehensive array of great spirits and liqueurs, most notably the over 50 tequilas that are very popular here.  The signature cocktail at the bar is the red or white Chi-Cha, made with a (secret and unnamed) Latin American spirit and fresh fruit ranging from kiwi to pineapple.

The décor at the Chi-Cha Lounge is much like you would find at a classic Mexican restaurant and bar, and the atmosphere is friendly and lively, punctuated by Bolivian and Peruvian folk tunes playing softly over the wonderful sound system.

Zaytina

One of the most well-loved and oft-visited bars in the Northwestern part of Washington D.C., Zaytina is a Mediterranean-style restaurant and bar, with a drink and food menu inspired by that of Turkey, Lebanon and (mostly) Greece. Opened in 2002, the bar has gained rapidly in popularity over the years, thanks in large part to its delicious drinks, scrumptious fare and exemplary service.

The bar at Zaytina is a big part of the establishment’s success, and many patrons are known to forego the table service and opt instead for one of the tasty appetizers served right at the bar, such as the Lebanese French Toast or the Spinach Calamari.  The drink menu is highly original and relies heavily on Mediterranean liquors and liqueurs, including the Greek spirit known as Ouzo.  When you’re here, make sure to try the very popular Harissa Fizz, a refreshing concoction made with Silver tequila, house-made Harissa, ginger liqueur, lemon soda and lime juice.

POV Lounge

Situated at 515 15th Street in Washington’s City Center, the POV Lounge is located on the rooftop of the W Hotel (a popular chain with locations in several major cities), which was formerly known as the Washington Hotel.  The POV Lounge, located 14 floors above the city’s skyline, offers one of the best views of the city, and directly overlooks one of the most symbolic and significant residences on the planet: the White House.

Inside the plush POV Lounge, which provides both indoor and outdoor seating, you’ll find a décor dominated by deep-scarlet furnishings and accents, giving it an almost regal or royal vibe.  The pricey bar is populated mostly with hotel guests and some of Washington’s elite, discussing politics and policy as they sip on one of the bar’s classic drinks.  In addition to offering all of the standard spirits and concoctions, the POV Lounge also boasts a novel menu of house-invented cocktails, such as their French Reception, a champagne cocktail, and the always tempting Rock and Rye, made with the finest whiskey and rum.

The food menu at the POV lounge is Asian-inspired and truly delicious, including snacks such as pepper-rubbed beef skewers, bite-sized egg rolls, and samosas.  Every Sunday, the lounge hosts a scrumptious Sunday Brunch, complete with pitchers of mimosas that pair nicely with the Eggs Benedict and Lobster Rolls.

Washington DC cityscape by tpsdave/Pixabay CC0 license

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