Washington DC’s cocktail scene is undeniably on the rise. Perhaps the best part of the city’s up-and-coming cocktail culture is the genuine local comradery amongst DC-based mixologists. “I really love the DC cocktail scene,” says Deke Dunne, bar director at Allegory. “I mean it when I say that we have the coolest, most non-competitive community there is – a rising tide raises all ships.”

In conjunction with the city’s booming restaurant culture, delicious cocktails can found aplenty in the United States capital. However, knowing where to look is key.

These are the best cocktail bars in Washington DC that you don’t want to miss.

Allegory

Located inside the trendy Eaton DC hotel, Allegory is a speakeasy-style bar that beautifully meshes art, social justice, literature, and craft cocktails. Situated behind the hotel’s Radical Library — from which one can borrow powerhouse books free of charge — this game-changing bar’s atmosphere provides a thought-provoking backdrop to the space’s equally intriguing drinks. Allegory’s current menu (as well as the bar’s walls) tells the story of Alice in Wonderland through the lens of civil rights pioneer Ruby Bridges, the first African-American girl to desegregate an all-white school.

Both the food and cocktail menus at Allegory regularly change to highlight seasonal ingredients and impeccable pairings. Currently, guests can spring for the Unicorn, an Afro-Caribbean Rum Old Fashioned that’s boozy, silky, and fresh. For a refreshing take on a classic favorite, check out the Looking Glass, a light and bright Vodka-Soda reimagined through the lense of a Japanese Highball. In the realm of food, current menu favorites include the Slay the Jabberwocky (fried goat cheese with Jalapeño jam), as well as the Chicken or the Egg, a super delicious fried chicken sandwich.

Address: 1201 K St NW #1, Washington, DC 20005

Silver Lyan

Situated in the lower level of Riggs Washington DC not too far from Allegory, Silver Lyan is the first American bar from Ryan Chetiyawardana (colloquially referred to as Mr. Lyan) of World’s Best Bar cocktail winner for London-based Dandelyan (now called Lyanass). Here, Lyan combines his global travel experience and precise mixology expertise to create bespoke cocktails that highlight seasonal flavors and ingredients sourced from local farmers, with a focus on the “cultural exchange” between the United States and the United Kingdom.

“Silver Lyan is a boundary-pushing cocktail bar with a crack team of bartenders that puts more thought and care into their cocktails than anyone you’ll ever find,” Dunne says. “I sometimes find myself jealous when sipping their cocktails, admiring the brilliance behind every drink. Their cocktails are only matched by their world-class hospitality.”

Address: 900 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004

Service Bar

According to Dunne, Service Bar is the ultimate bartender’s bar.

“They are an industry hang that will serve you a beer, a shot, or an expertly crafted, ice cold Daiquiri – no judgments here, just banging cocktails and unmatchable vibes,” he says.

Founded by Chad Spangler and Glendon Hartley in 2016, this award-winning cocktail bar (number 18 in North America, according to 50 Best Bars) continues to capture the hearts of industry folk and consumers alike. According to Spangler, Service Bar has always been a neighborhood bar first, and cocktail bar second.

“Glendon and I found ourselves most comfortable in the neighborhood bar/Irish pub — but why? There was no pretension, reasonable prices, friendly atmosphere and environment, and a strong focus on service,” explains Spangler. “Those ideals became the building blocks of Service Bar, with cocktails coming as our second priority.”

Additionally, Service bar serves food until last call and tables are made from stainless steel for the purpose of leaving notes or playing games with dry-erase markers, so as to create social interaction and conversation among patrons.

Currently, Service Bar has a list of 30 rotating cocktails, with certain staples, such as the rosé all day, are available year round (though its ingredients change according to the season). Food items focus on comfort food, and you shouldn’t miss the fried chicken.

Address: 926-928 U St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Barmini

Founded by world-renowned chef José Andrés back in 2014, Barmini remains a pillar in the city’s up-and-coming cocktail scene. Considered DC’s first chef-focused cocktail program, this hospitality-focused bar offers classic cocktails, cocktail flights, and custom cocktail creations in their bright and airy space, conveniently located just a few blocks from the National Mall.

“Barmini [mixologists] are legends of the field,” says Dunne, describing the bar as one of the many pioneers that paved the way for the city’s now-booming cocktail culture. “They created their own incredibly advanced techniques that most bartenders can’t even dream of, and their incredible hospitality mixed with science-bending, mind-melding cocktails will leave your jaw touching the floor.” Be sure to save room for the bar’s equally well-crafted small bites to pair with said jaw-dropping libations.

Address: 501 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20004

The Green Zone

Although The Green Zone’s drinks list may be smaller than those found at many other of the city’s cocktail bars, make no mistake – it’s absolutely worth checking out. Located in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, The Green Zone heavily leans into Middle Eastern flavors both in the food and cocktails.

“The Green Zone blends high energy with expertly crafted, Middle Eastern-inspired cocktails, as well as a rum selection that would make even the most avid collector jealous,” Dunne says.” Enjoy crispy falafel, creamy hummus, or fresh seafood alongside a variety of drinks inspired by the classics (look to the Saz’iraq or Mint Lemonade for examples).

Address: 2226 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Serenata

For Latin-inspired drinks, snacks, and vibes, look no further than Serenata. Found in the city’s buzzing Union Market, the all-day menu features craft cocktails, aguas frescas, hand-crafted small bites, and more. “Serenata is a full-service Latin cocktail experience crafting preeminent cocktails sourced and inspired by the many countries that make up the fabric of the rich Latin American heritage,” says AJ Johnson, beverage director and managing partner of the bar.

Johnson explains that the establishment’s name (which means serenade in Spanish) is meant to inspire with its ingredients and their origins. “Like a serenade, we take you on a rhythmic journey through the countries of Latin America with our cocktails, focusing on seasonal and tropical fruits, origin spirits, and world-renowned techniques to craft each drink as a unique experience.”

Serenata was founded by Daniella Senior of Michelin-starred Bresca, and Juan Coronado, José Andrés’ right-hand cocktail guy. Best of all, the bar has introduced Spritz by Serenata, an outdoor trailer bar focused on all things sparkling and Latin-inspired. For summer visitors, Johnson recommends trying the bar’s tu regalito cocktail, a clarified version of a classic piña colada, or the gran oso, crafted with aged rum, single malt Scotch, apricot liqueur, sparkling wine, pineapple, honey, ginger, lime, and angostura.

The casual-yet-convivial ambiance of the bar is both relaxing yet refined, making it the perfect place to transition from day-to-night imbibing.

“Serenata is a cocktail oasis in Union Market, serving up some of the best Latin American cocktails and vibes you’ll find,” says Dunne, highlighting that the bar is also a place that vocalizes and organizes support for people of color in DC. “Their cocktails are only matched by the quality of their character,” he says.

Address: 1280 4th St NE, Washington, DC 20002

O.K.P.B.

While many bars tend to claim the speakeasy title nowadays, O.K.P.B. actually delivers. The bar recently celebrated its first birthday, and although new to the scene, its cocktails are not to be overlooked. Founded by mixologist David Strauss (of Sheppard), this Mount Pleasant-based bar lies tucked away on the second floor of an unassuming building, located above a dentist office.

“O.K.P.B. is a relative newcomer to the scene, though they execute the speakeasy motif better than any before them,” Dunne says. The focus here is on classic cocktails, though executed in the most meticulously crafted of fashions. Expect well-dressed bartenders, jazz-forward playlists, dim lighting, and nightly cocktail specials listed on handwritten menus. Seating is first come, first served – and if you can, be sure to stop in from 5 to 7 PM for the $7 happy hour featuring Manhattans, martinis, and mules.

Address: 3165 Mt Pleasant St NW, Washington, DC 20010