Views of grand monuments, quirky rowhouses and historic streets make Washington’s outdoor bars endlessly alluring. This summer, there’s a new crop of rooftop and patio watering holes to explore across the city, each perched high above the hustle and bustle. And it’s not just the view that makes them worthwhile – several of the city’s best outdoor spaces also feature excellent cocktail programs. Here are six new spots to check out this season.
Calico’s urban backyard is proof you can create an oasis right in the middle of one of DC’s hottest neighborhoods.
“We’re this hidden escape in the middle of Blagden Alley,” says Calico’s co-founder, Greg Algie, whose secluded bar opened in the fall of 2017.
Now that the warm weather is here, Algie says to expect a new slate of summer activities, including cookout-style meals and outdoor fitness classes like yoga and pilates on weekends. A selection of frozen cocktails will join the bar’s popular (and dangerously crushable) “adult” juice pouches.
In addition to drinks, Calico’s chef Nathan Beauchamp is turning out some nostalgic comfort food like Philly-style tomato pie and the Italian-style Blagden hoagie.
50 Blagden Alley, NW, DC; www.calicodc.com
Colada Shop’s new rooftop garden has made it even easier to get into the spirit of Cuba and the Caribbean. The space is designed to appeal to groups large and small, and is open for everything from morning coffee to evening drinks.
“We really wanted the rooftop to just look fresh and lighthearted, really taking inspiration from Little Havana,” says Mario Monte, Colada’s food and beverage director.
The rooftop cocktail menu has a tropical inspiration that’s entirely separate from the downstairs café. Highlights include a few variations of pouched cocktails (they’re calling them Havana Sippers) along with pitchers of mojitos and sparkling pineapple sangria.
Swing by on Thursdays throughout the summer for special “Havana Night” deals of $6 cocktails and $2 empanadas paired with Caribbean tunes from 4 p.m. to close. Monte also expects to use these evenings as a way to experiment with some new menu items.
1405 T St. NW, DC; www.coladashop.com
Baja-style fare and drinks are the go-to items at Cortez in Shaw. The colorful Mexican bar and rooftop opened in March and offers views of the colorful rowhouses and businesses of the surrounding streets.
“It’s really meant to be a transformational experience for the guests,” says owner Ryan Seelbach. “It’s a very relaxed but lively atmosphere – a playful atmosphere – on our rooftop.”
The drink menu at Cortez includes classic and passionfruit margaritas along with choices like a pineapple daiquiri, a twist on a Paloma and more. There’s also a frozen margarita available exclusively on the rooftop. Food focuses on lighter options, all made in-house, such as fish tacos, chips and salsa, and street corn. Cortez offers rotating happy hour specials from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and a $10 beer-tequila-and-taco special Friday and Saturday nights after 10 p.m.
1905 9th St. NW, DC; www.cortezbardc.com
Fix Bar at Morris
Inside, Morris American Bar is a seated-only lounge for enjoying expertly made craft cocktails. But for a more casual experience, grab one of the refreshing, crushed ice “fix” drinks from its new patio, aptly named the Fix Bar.
“A fix is a nontraditional sour cocktail served under crushed ice,” says owner and mixologist David Strauss. “It’s one acid, one sweetener, one spirit – that’s it. It’s one of my favorite categories of classic cocktails.”
The Fix Bar is dog-friendly and encourages standing and mingling with your friends and neighbors. The cocktails are expected to rotate through the year and include items like a Bourbon Honey and a Bramble with gin, lemon and blackberry.
1020 7th St. NW, DC; www.morrisbardc.com
Despite its name, there are no rooms available for the night at Truxton Inn. Rather, this Bloomingdale neighborhood spot deals in riffs on classic cocktails in a comfortable lounge atmosphere. The year-old bar unveiled its patio earlier this spring, nearly doubling its capacity.
“Much like all of us, I’m glad we’ve got some outdoor space so we can enjoy the weather after that whirlwind of a winter,” says Brian Nixon, Truxton’s bar manager.
Nixon recommends sipping on the Delano in a White Suit, a combination of bourbon, Giffard Abricot du Rousillon, simple syrup and lime. Truxton Inn plans to roll out a tiki-inspired menu later this summer, and that should make the patio all the more welcoming.
251 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.truxtoninndc.com
Located on the top of District Wharf’s new Canopy Hotel, Whiskey Charlie offers a panoramic bird’s eye view of DC from the Capitol dome all the way to the Tidal Basin and Arlington. The vista at this Wharf destination rivals any in the city – though that’s far from the bar’s only attraction.
“We also have a really eclectic, approachable drink menu that has something for just about everyone,” says lead bartender Donnavon Lalputan. “Come for the sunset, stay for the drinks!”
House cocktails include the WC Mainstay, made with whiskey, amaretto, lemon, sugar and egg white. With summer approaching, Lalputan recommends the Sundress Season, which mixes crema de mezcal, habanero tequila, grapefruit juice, demerara, lime juice and a splash of soda. The bar also serves a selection of savory snacks and finger foods like crab cakes, short rib sliders, warm soft pretzels, and a cheese and meat plate.
975 7th St. SW, DC; www.whiskeycharliewharf.com