Ed is, among other things, a writer for We Love DC, a local web site. His focus is on cocktails, which are in ample supply in DC. We’ve been lucky to get to know some of the best bartenders in the city (if in doubt, visit any member of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild). While you’re here, be sure to try a Rickey, the official drink of DC. We’ll be listing some of our favorite places for cocktails in DC. These are located in the Penn Quarter area, not far from the hotel.
The Passenger has become well known in two short years, and we’re regulars at its “hangover brunch” on Sundays, which runs from 2pm until 11pm. We’ll even be holding our after-party there (think of it as the day-after brunch, only immediately following the reception). It’s a low key atmosphere with great bar food, drinks, and people. Unlike many cocktail bars, a the Passenger there’s no set cocktail list. There’s a board with a few specials listed each night, but the best way to order is to say what you’re in the mood for. You can name a classic cocktail, or just suggest a general idea, like “gin and citrusy.” Your drink is usually exactly what you didn’t quite know you wanted. Not in the mood for a cocktail? See if you can get co-owner Tom Brown to choose a bottle of wine for you, or just order a beer on tap or from the extensive selection of cans and bottles.
If you’re feeling fancy, try to get a reservation for the Columbia Room, the hidden bar-within-the-bar. Tom’s brother (and co-owner) Derek dreamed up this quiet, 10-seat shrine to the craft cocktail, now recognized by GQ and Food and Wine, among others. It’s a more mellow atmosphere influenced by Japanese cocktail bars, with quiet music, hand-carved ice, and house made bitters, tinctures, and aromatized wines. The standard offering is a tasting menu with paired bites, but you can also order à la carte.
Our other go-to in the area is Fiola, named one of Esquire’s best new restaurants of 2011. The dining room is gorgeous, but we prefer to pull up a stool at the bar. Jeff Faile’s drinks are always spot on. If you’re “really into amaro,” Jeff has a drink for you. And while you’re there, you can also enjoy some of the best Italian food in the city. The menu changes to reflect what’s seasonal and fresh so we can’t really recommend anything specific, but we’ve never had anything that wasn’t excellent.