So, you’re faced with another weekend in DC. What to do, what to do…
It’s no secret that DC has a world-class, foodie-approved list of things that you could fill a Friday night with. It’s also no secret that the best of that list involves alcoholic beverages. But sometimes, you want a little something different. Sometimes you don’t want to drop in at the neighborhood watering hole that is generous enough to offer PBR and a shot of house vodka for $5.00. Sometimes Tinder seems both mentally exhausting and indicative of having one finger that is just way more overworked than the others. Sometimes you want to swipe left on what you know and try something a little different. Enter DC’s speakeasy scene.
The term speakeasy originally was used to describe secret, elusive, and illegal places to grab a drink during the prohibition era, which took place during the entirety of the 1920s and a little while into the 1930s. These bars had little to no signage, small spaces, hard-to-find entrances, and were often invitation only. Anything to take the edge off, right?
In modern times, speakeasies are more like hipster hideouts. You know, places where hip people can go and wear their hip clothing and put their hip pinkies up in the air and enjoy a hip cocktail. There is usually swanky décor involved, among other things like classy music, hidden entrances, and clever drink names. Intrigued? I thought you might be. If you’re looking for a sly spot in DC to spend an evening feeling dolled up and dapper (1920s talk for fly), I’ve got you covered. Here are DC’s top speakeasy picks:
Harold Black has speakeasy flare with none of the hassles. In fact, you can even get a reservation ahead of time via OpenTable. Don’t let the non hush-hush nature of this place fool you though – it’s still special. It’s an intimate space with bartenders that undoubtedly know what they are doing. If you’re really feeling wild, you can tip bartenders off to your preference of spirit and they will whip up a special something just for you, bartender’s choice. There’s a no cellphone or flash photography rule in effect here to keep the speakeasy spirit alive.
If there is a perfect place for a bar to be hidden, it’s squeezed inside of a donut shop. Captain Gregory’s makes that dream come true, tucked inside of Sugar Shack Donuts in Alexandria. In more traditional speakeasy fashion, to get in you will have to pull the flag at their wood-paneled door and wait for the door to slide open and let you in. Fancy stuff, folks. There is a minimum spend here on Friday and Saturday nights, but with an ever-changing cocktail list (literally every night), there’s no shortage of things worth spending on.
Dram & Grain is situated in the basement of the Jack Rose Dining Saloon, a restaurant and bar. The basement has seating for about twenty people, with dim lighting and an overall cozy atmosphere. This place gets points for having a “welcome punch” that is likely to get you that tingly, giddy feeling straightaway. Adding to their speakeasy ambiance, Dram & Grain is reservation only. With no website, the way to go is by calling or texting their phone number: 202-607-1577.
Dark, cozy, and discrete – that’s how I would describe 2 Birds One Stone. This is an unmarked, basement-level, speakeasy style bar located underneath Doi Moi in the Logan Circle neighborhood. They have six rotating upscale drinks available, plus beer, and a “punch of the day.” They are not merely bartenders here, but mixologists. As one Yelp review puts it, this is “artisan bartending at its finest.”