Bars are finally back. Here are 10 new places to drink.

Las Gemelas, from the team behind Espita Mezcaleria, serves mezcal cocktails and lots of margaritas. Photograph by Leah Judson.

It’s been a while since you’ve been to a real bar? Fair! But even with all the restrictions of the pandemic, many new water points have opened in recent months. Here are some new places to check out now that a bartender can give you a drink in a bar.

Aperitif
2622 P St., NW
Veteran sommelier Elli Benchimol’s cozy Georgetown spot ranges from a cafe serving espressos and pastries in the morning to a wine and cocktail bar specializing in champagne, caviar, and French fare in the afternoon. While there are plenty of ways to splurge, the place also has several more affordable options, including bubbles with a trio of stuffed eggs for $ 20, or a glass of champagne and a full set of caviar (served with a box of savory waffles) for $ 50.

Barca Pier & Wine Bar
2 Pioneer Mill Way, Alexandria
This tapas and wine bar is inspired by Barcelona’s chiringuitos (beach bars) set up on boardwalks and in the sand. Made up of reused shipping containers, Barca sits on an Old Town pier overlooking the Potomac River. Spanish classics like papas bravas and garlic prawns are paired with a global wine list and summery cocktails like pink / stone fruit sangria or passion fruit ‘froijito’.

Runner-up
1100 15th Street, NW
This New Orleans-inspired restaurant from the crew behind the Navy Yard Salt Line serves dishes like oyster spaghetti and duck jambalaya for two. But another big draw is the cocktail menu from one of the Big Easy’s top bartenders – Neal Bodenheimer of Cure – including high-browed hurricanes and “holy” sazeracs.

Donahue
1338 Wisconsin Ave., NW
The Georgetown space that was once the Bush-era hotspot, Smith Point, has new life as a champagne and cocktail lounge in line to usher in a new ‘Roaring Twenties’. The cocktail menu is rich in rum, tequila and mezcal and includes modernist creations such as a blend of rose infused vodka, rosé vermouth, lemon, champagne and ‘rose air’. And who needs a flute when you can have a “chambong ”- yes, it’s a champagne bong (looked).

Imperfect
1124 23rd St., NO
The team’s new scenic location behind the popular 14th Street restaurant Seven Reasons draws flavors from Latin America and the Mediterranean to its Modernist menus. The Aegean-chic dining room has a nifty cocktail bar for sipping grapefruit and gin Garden Tonics and old-fashioned produce infused with truffle and honey.

Las Gemelas
1280 Fourth St., NE
This all-day Mexican taqueria and seafood restaurant inside La Cosecha Market near Union Market comes from the agave spirit pros behind Shaw’s Espita Mezcaleria. Tropical cocktails highlight fresh fruit and lots of mezcal, while margaritas are poured on tap or frozen with strawberry and coconut.

Prost
919 Fifth St., NO
The Bavarian brewery, which opened at Mount Vernon Triangle last fall, serves hot pretzels and schnitzels alongside bundles of German beer. (Or if you prefer, German wines and cocktails made from Jägermeister.) Dogs are welcome on the outdoor terrace with the picnic table.

Shelter
1401 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
You can try just about anything at Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s new Hill East dining room, The Roost: pizza, tacos, sushi, alpine cuisine, Italian red sauce. At the venue bar and the Shelter beer garden, beverage manager Greg Engert (ChurchKey, the Sovereign, Bluejacket Brewery) focuses on low-ABV beers through 50 constantly rotating taps. Stay tuned for the opening of Roost’s cocktail bar, Show of Hands. In the meantime, you can get Spirits Director Nick Farrell’s creations – frosé watermelon, mezcal hibiscus margaritas – at Shelter.

Saint-Vincent wine bar
3212 Georgia Ave., NW
This two-story park-view bar with balcony and a large tree-spotted backyard is a low-key spot for groups wishing to share bottles of wine. The menu includes over 200 selections, which you order from a QR code at your table, as well as cheese and cold meats boards and a handful of snacks (tostadas, Vietnamese crab dip). An indoor cocktail bar is in preparation. Before you go, get some take-out wines from the bottle store, all at 25% off their tasting price.

Thai tiki
12100 Sunset Hills Road, Suite 107, Reston
The team behind Ashburn’s Sense of Thai St brought a tiki theme to their new restaurant Reston, which features fusion fare like larb gai tacos and chiang mai ramen. Veteran bartender Jeremy Ross is behind the tropical drink menu, which ranges from punch colada to “Long Thailand” enriched with hibiscus and Thai basil. Look out for a shoemaker’s mai tai-sherry blend served in a tower drink dispenser for groups soon.

Culinary editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind DC’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian as of July 2016, she was culinary writer and columnist Young & Hungry at the Washington City Paper. She is originally from Colorado and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.




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