Photo: Haley McKey
Photo: Haley McKey

Good Booze and Good Boys: A Dog’s View of DMV Watering Holes

Ziggy the Labrador as told (barked?) to Haley McKey

I love people. I love it when they rub my belly, I love it when they tell me I’m cute and I especially love it when they give me food. And that’s why I also love bars. I don’t quite understand why, but it seems that after a few drinks, the belly rubs, compliments and cookies are extra abundant. It’s great! So, when my friend Haley asked me to come with her to visit some dog-friendly spots around the DC area, of course I went along. And reader, I was not disappointed.


DACHA BEER GARDEN in Shaw
People Perks: Serves beer, cocktails, wine and food
Pup Perks: Open rain or shine thanks to a giant canopy and heaters for cooler days

Haley took me to Dacha on a Sunday afternoon. I liked the place right away. We got caught in the rain earlier, so Haley and I walked in looking like wet rats (though I confess, I’ve never seen one of those) and really appreciated the heat lamps. There was plenty of water and (free!) cookies for all.

It wasn’t too crowded – maybe due to the rain – so I had plenty of room to stand in the way and wag my tail at people. Haley informed me that this is not usually the case, and sure enough, after awhile things got busy and she told me to lie down under our table and quit being a fire hazard (whatever that means). I obliged, and in a moment of weakness she slipped me a few of her friend Sam’s French fries. I met another dog too! She was a puppy. I forget how exhausting children can be.

Haley ordered a fancy bourbon cocktail called a Shawny and a cup of coffee, and Sam got a beer. Sam is a talented artist and drew a picture of me. Someone looked at his drawing and told me I had beautiful eyes. I wanted to kiss her, but I settled for enthusiastic wagging. It’s more polite. 1600 7th St. NW, DC; www.dachadc.com

NORTHSIDE SOCIAL in Arlington, VA
People Perks: Serves wine, coffee, beer and food
Pup Perks: Dogs allowed on the outdoor patio

Haley took me here with her friend Courtney and Courtney’s dog Remy for a “work wine.” Haley tells me that Courtney is also a writer for On Tap, but to be honest with you, I have absolutely no clue what any of those words mean. Like, at all.

Anyway, the four of us got a table around the side of the building so Remy and I could relax in the shade. Courtney brought us some water and homemade dog treats, which are sold for 35 cents each. They were delicious, but I have been known to eat things I find in the woods, so maybe I’m not the best judge.

Haley and Courtney each had a glass of wine while they worked on their laptops, and I greatly enjoyed the buttery smell of the croissant they shared. Remy fell in love with a beautiful bloodhound we met and, being a bluetick hound himself, he had a lot to say about it. Halfway through, Haley took me to a nice grassy area across the street, which I deeply appreciated (Remy and I drank a lot of water). People walking by, patted our heads and called us good boys. I was overjoyed. 3211 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.northsidesocialarlington.com

ONE EIGHT DISTILLING in Ivy City
People Perks: Serves gin, vodka, bourbon and rye whiskey, plus a rotating menu of thoughtful cocktails; bottles of One Eight’s housemade liquors are for sale at the bar
Pup Perks: Dogs are allowed in the tasting room, but not on distillery tours

My first impression was that this was a loud place. But then I realized it was loud because the people inside were having fun! Everyone was very happy to see me – even more so than usual. Haley said this was a side effect of something called “liquor.” Whatever the cause, I had a great time. People were fawning over me all night.

The best part of this outing was that Haley brought her dad Bill along! (I love her dad so much that sometimes I whine when I see him. It’s really embarrassing.) He got a flight of three different bourbons and Haley got a gin cocktail called a Detroit Radler. It smelled like grapefruit and had what I thought was a meatball at the bottom but alas, it was only a cherry.

Again, both the staff and patrons were very nice not only to me, but to Haley and Bill too! They had such a good time meeting new friends that they got another round. Haley ordered Untitled Whiskey #3, a bourbon made in coffee barrels, and Bill ordered an Old Fashioned.

Meanwhile, I set my sights on the giant pretzel people were eating at a nearby table. I tried to get Haley to order one for me, but she told me she’s supposed to be watching my weight. I tried to explain that she could still watch my weight while I eat a soft, delicious pretzel, but she said I was missing the point.

At the end of the night, we said goodbye and the folks behind the bar gave me my very own bowl of water for one last drink before the ride home. I felt fancy and important. 1135 Okie St. NE, DC; www.oneeightdistilling.com


People here love dogs, and my adventures with Haley prove that in almost every part of town, there’s a place to get a drink with your best friend. I hope she takes me out again sometime. And if she does, I really hope she buys me a pretzel. Check out some of our other favorite pup-friendly watering holes below.

Cotton and Reed: 1330 5th St. NE, DC; www.cottonandreed.com
Just across the street from Union Market, this distillery allows dogs in the tasting room.

Liberty Tavern: 3195 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.thelibertytavern.com
This Clarendon-based bar and restaurant allows dogs in its outdoor patio area.

Vola’s Dockside Grill and Hi-Tide Lounge: 101 N Union St. Alexandria, VA; www.volasdockside.com
This seafood restaurant and bar has a dog-friendly patio overlooking the Potomacin the heart of Old Town.

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Haley McKey

Haley McKey is an artist and friend to the wild living and working in the DMV. As an area native, she has seen DC grow and evolve over the course of her life. She loves writing about art, music, animals and our environment, especially the city's dedication to conserving wildlife habitat. When she's not writing or working, she's painting and drawing. She loves a sour cocktail.