11 Awesome Outdoor Bars in D.C. to Hit This Summer
Summer is HERE, and you know what that means. Outdoor imbibing is officially back in vogue. If your long-weekend plans don't already include a jaunt to America's capital, add it—and these 11 watering holes—to your list.
Columbia Room Punch Garden
Well-placed heaters mean you can drink and dine at this Blagden Alley stalwart all year long, but it does what it does best in summer—and that’s its rooftop section dubbed the Punch Garden, where bartenders put a new twist on rarefied classics like the Gin Rickey. What’s more, drinks here incorporate the bar’s locally sourced—and hand-cut to perfection—ice cubes (the kind of attention to detail that’s earned it James Beard Awards for Outstanding Bar Program in 2017 and 2018).
Farmers Fishers Bakers
The patio is open year-round at Farmers Fishers Bakers—but there’s so much here to stop by for, including an open bakery, a larder-designed corner lined with fresh-from-the-farm canned goods, and a menu that nods to all things Americana, from lemon herb brick chicken and Chesapeake Wild Blue catfish fry to mussel pots and jambalaya. On summer weekends, the outdoor area transforms into the “Tiki Patio,” serving up tropical concoctions in one-of-a-kind tiki mugs.
The Wharf, D.C.’s new “it” destination” along the waterfront, doesn’t want for spectacular views. One of our favorite places to take it all in is from the 10th-story perch at Whiskey Charlie, the indoor-outdoor cocktail lounge at the Canopy Hotel. Even inside “The Cabin,” you’re never far from that view (floor-to-ceiling windows keep the marina and Potomac on full display), but outside with the fire pits is where you want to be. Ready to settle in and stay awhile? Cocktails (including the lauded Mermaid Margarita) are served by the glass, carafe, or shareable tankard if you’ve come with a larger group.
Spending an afternoon out in D.C. without the fuss (or expensive price tag) is possible at Calico, a 3,000-square-foot self-dubbed "urban backyard" in Blagden Alley that puts the cool in affordability. We’re talking $3 pizza slices and $2 off wine and beer during daily happy hours (4:30 to 7 p.m.) Belly up to a picnic table or inside the vintage greenhouse and let the good times roll.
This husband-and-wife-owned Italian seafood spot is a taste of the Mediterranean on the Georgetown waterfront. It doesn’t come cheap, but you get what you pay for, including top-shelf cuisine (think squid-ink bucatini, pesce intero del giorno deboned table-side, and a splurge-worthy seafood tower), stellar service, and one of the prettiest views of the winding Potomac from its coveted outdoor tables. If you need any more convincing, President Obama celebrated his 55th birthday here while in office.
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Tomorrow’s the big day. The rosé garden is back! We’re running a contest to celebrate the return of our little tropical oasis. Tag a friend in the comments below, share your favorite rosé garden picture in your story and tag @whaleysdc and you’ll have the chance to win an evening with three friends on us at the garden, featuring a special rosè and food tasting. Contest starts now and ends Friday at noon when we’ll announce the winner. Ready. Set. Go. ???? by our friends @littleleafshop
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Whaley's Rosé Garden
When summer kicks into high gear, Whaley’s Rosé Garden opens for business. It’s one of the riverfront’s most popular seasonal hangouts, and for good reason: seafood bites like oysters on the half shell and Maryland crab toast pair perfectly with any one of the 10 rosés on offer (in addition to a quality selection of high balls and frozen drinks). Whatever you do, get there early—only 30 seats are available on a first-come-first-serve basis.
The Deck at Casolare
Sure, Casolare’s raised outdoor patio is reason enough to hang out outside one of Georgetown’s most celebrated restaurants (Casolare Ristorante + Bar, inside the Glover Park Hotel), but we all know what everyone really comes for—and that’s their boozy sno-cones, which come in vibrant flavors like Blue Passion Mojito, Strawberry Sunset, and Orange Dreamsicle. The bites—peel-and-eat shrimp, smoked pulled pork sliders, barbecue chicken pizza—aren’t bad either.
How cute is the Colada Shop?! From the flower boxes lining the patio to the chairs and walls at the rooftop garden, pastels dominate this colorful Cuban café off 14th Street, where imbibers come to sip down sangria mojitos and other tropical cocktails and dig into croquetas and churros. String lights keep the energy going well after sundown; don’t miss Thursday’s “Havana Nights” happy hours, where drinks and empanadas are even more affordable than usual.
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Top of the Gate
You can’t reopen a straight-out-of-Mad Men historic hotel without adding a white-hot watering hole to the mix. Thankfully, that’s what you’ll find at The Watergate Hotel if you head up to the 15th floor rooftop, aptly named Top of the Gate. The sleek furniture echoes the hotel’s mid-century interiors. Settle in with a frozen Negroni or champagne julep (drinks are fancy here) and take in panoramic views of the Washington Monument, Key Bridge, and the Potomac River. Feeling peckish? The lamb shish kebabs and meze platters are great for sharing.
Locals love DNV, the Donovan Hotel’s 14th-floor rooftop oasis where pool parties are D.C.’s place to be on Sundays. Expect beach vibes everywhere from the deck to the menu, which makes good use of the blender with thirst-quenching flavors like orange crushes, boozy popsicles, and a section titled “What’s On Frotation?” It’s impossible to enjoy just one drink here, so soak up all that booze with something from the grill, say, mahi mahi tacos or crab fingers prepared Maryland-style.
The Rooftop Bar at Mason & Rook
There's style and a whole lot of substance at this hotel rooftop oasis, high above the buzz of Logan Circle. Even if you don't plan on taking a dip in the pool (though you should), it's worth setting aside an afternoon (and subsequent evening) to take in those 360-degree skyline views over refreshing cocktails like the Leave The Drama To Your Llama (made with Singani 63, lemongrass cordial, and lime), Virginia beers, and tasty dishes like lamb belly tacos and disco tater tots sprinkled with bacon bits from the hotel's star restaurant, Radiator.
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