When you think of the Nation’s Capital, a few things come to mind: presidential inaugurations, foreign diplomacy, Watergate, Ford’s Theater, and the infamous Mayflower Hotel. But what about when the day at the Hill ends, and the backroom politics really begin?
If you’re wondering where the bigwigs like to decompress with a stiff drink, or just want to pull up a stool at a historic spot, sip your bourbon, and schmooze it up like the power player you know you were born to be, we’ve got the guide for you.
OLD EBBITT GRILL
Founded in 1856, Old Ebbitt is a DC staple and known as the longest running bar in the city. Located steps away from The White House, you’ll find yourself in a rich Victorian-style saloon filled with antique chandeliers and leather chairs. From tourists to White House staffers (or even Lenny Kravitz), you never know who you’ll be sharing an oyster with. Legend has it that Presidents Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Theodore Roosevelt were frequent visitors. Come for happy hour and stay for the charm.
675 15th St NW / Washington, DC 20005 / 202.347.4800
Since 1933, this family-owned, cozy pub has remained a Georgetown favorite for nearly a century. Yes, you will be impressed by the hospitality and classic comfort foods, but the lasting impression will be that of travelling back in time. This pub has housed many political meetings over scotch and Guinness. There are booths for Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, and George W. Bush. But if you want a touch of romance and really want to replicate history, follow in the footsteps of JFK and Jackie, ask for booth three, and pop the question.
1264 Wisconsin Ave NW / Washington, DC 20007 / 202.333.7370
OFF THE RECORD
Hidden in the basement of The Hay-Adams Hotel, Off the Record gives off both a cool and sophisticated feel. Drenched in red velvet seating and walls decorated with caricatures of political figures, this is DC’s best place to be “seen, but not heard” and you’ll immediately find yourself wanting to shake hands and close a deal. Famous for their high-end cocktails, the Second Ward is a basement classic, but they also make a mean Manhattan, Old Fashioned, and even a very British Pimm’s Cup.
800 16th St NW / Washington, DC 20006 / 202.638.6600
EDGAR BAR & KITCHEN
Every week should begin and end with a grand Old Fashioned, and where better than at the center of it all, the Edgar Bar & Kitchen, named after none other than J. Edgar Hoover, who supposedly ate at the hotel every day for 25 years. Hailed as one of the most famous places in the city, The Mayflower Hotel has had its share of secrets and unfolding scandals, so it’s little wonder that everyone wants a seat here. Make a reservation and soak in the atmosphere, the who’s who of DC, and the elegant, gilded hallways. And if you happen to spot a Senator and a suspicious companion rushing into an elevator, Mum’s the word.
1127 Connecticut Ave NW / Washington, DC 20036 / 202.347.2233