The DC area's classic cocktail scene?
October 22, 2009 6:59 AM   Subscribe

Classic cocktails in Northern Virginia/DC? Tonight?

I'm the best man at my good friend's wedding this weekend, and of course that means throwing a bachelor party. There will be 7 of us. We're all pretty low key, though, so I was just thinking it would be good to just go hang out and get a few drinks.

The groom is really into whisky and classic cocktails (like pre-prohibition cocktails) so I'd like to try to find some place that does really good ones. Yelp and Chowhound have suggested places like PX in Alexandria and hotel bars like Off the Record and Round Robin in DC, but I'm concerned that these places will be a little bit too formal for our group. Not that we'll be rowdy, but we will have had a few drinks and I know that I for one get louder as the night goes on.

The other wrinkle is that this is supposed to be happening tonight. I know, poor planning on my part.

Metro access, too, would be good but not necessarily essential.

Any suggestions the Hive Mind can provide would be great!
posted by malthas to Food & Drink (11 answers total)
I hear the Gibson is supposed to be good for this sort of thing, though I've never been myself, so can't attest to its fanciness. Doesn't sound as formal as a hotel bar though. Maybe someone who gets out more than myself would know better.
posted by sa3z at 7:03 AM on October 22, 2009

Eventide in Clarendon. The owner/bartender, Steve, is amazing.
posted by decathecting at 7:18 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Here's what I can do for you:
The Gibson is great for classic cocktails. But you'll want a reservation.
If you want to venture out the H Street, H Street Country Club just recently hired Gina Chersevani. She's one of the best mixologists in the area. Added bonus: Mini golf and other games!
Proof poached Adam Bernbach from Bar Pillar, and he's also one of the best mixologists in the area.
And you can do a lot worse than Bourbon, which has locations in Adams Morgan and Glover Park.
posted by General Malaise at 7:23 AM on October 22, 2009

Seconding Eventide
posted by downing street memo at 7:34 AM on October 22, 2009

Best answer: Room 11. It's a small place, so 7 may be pushing it, but since tonight won't be too cold, you can probably sit outside. It may be worth it to call before you head over there, though (they open at 5) to see if they can accommodate you. Very comfortable and casual.

They are maybe a bit more of a "modern" take on classic cocktails, but there is a definite respect and appreciation for where they came from (Dan Searing knows what he's doing). You will drink some tasty drinks and spend lots of money (it's not overly expensive, but drinks tend to run about $8-10 a piece) and get drunk.
posted by darksong at 7:47 AM on October 22, 2009

If informal good cocktails with metro access is what you're after, may I recommend Eighteenth Street Lounge?
posted by analogue at 8:40 AM on October 22, 2009

For additional input, ask (a briefer version of) this question at the Got Plans chat on Also browse through their past chats.
posted by inigo2 at 8:45 AM on October 22, 2009

Agree with the Gibson. It has a speakeasy vibe, but there's a back patio in case you want to be more boisterous. Reservations definitely needed.

Room 11 is charming but tiny...unless you sit outside, there's not enough space for seven people to sit together.

18th St. Lounge is fairly packed Thursday nights, and I don't think they're particularly well known for classic cocktails.

Proof is great too, and Adam is amazing, but it might be a little more stuffy than you're looking for.
posted by kittyprecious at 9:39 AM on October 22, 2009

The Gibson, hands down.

I'd call them immediately and get your reservation squared away: (202) 232-2156. It shouldn't be impossible to get a reservation on a weekday, though it's pretty much mandatory for Saturday and Sunday.

Cocktails can be a bit pricey--say, on average $11 - 14. Worth it, IMO, as the bartenders are extremely knowledgeable about their craft and actually give a crap about things like balance. There's one woman who works there who's just fabulous: witty, kind, patient, and... tattooed.

Inside is very low-key and ambient, lit exclusively by candlelight. Like kittyprecious says, there's outside seating for a little less intimate atmosphere. Besides, it's supposed to be a beautiful night here.

Couldn't pass up this opportunity to shill for my favorite bar in DC. Have fun tonight, wherever you wind up!
posted by AAAAAThatsFiveAs at 9:58 AM on October 22, 2009

I love me some H Street Country Club, and was there earlier this month, but their cocktails (while fantastic) aren't exactly "classic."
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:43 AM on October 22, 2009

Response by poster: I called the Gibson a couple of hours ago and asked if they could take us, and the woman who answered flat-out said no (but nicely!), which is too bad because it sounds great. She said the patio will be open, but that it's first-come-first-serve and that she wasn't too optimistic that it wouldn't be crowded.

Eventide is booked solid all night long.

I called Room 11, and they said they'd be happy to accommodate us and haven't been quite as busy as when they first opened. The patio will be open so that's likely where we'll be.

Thanks for the suggestions! I wish I had been on top of this sooner, but I'm sure we'll have a good time with what we're doing.
posted by malthas at 10:54 AM on October 22, 2009

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