Barring a spontaneous snowstorm, it’s finally time to go outside and combine a nice drink with a nice view. Here’s where to indulge:
Red Derby, Columbia Heights
On the surface, Red Derby is a standard neighborhood bar: casual atmosphere, friendly service and standard – though quite good – bar food. Red Derby is the bar we all want in Foggy Bottom, but doesn’t quite exist yet. It’s casual with good food, reasonable prices, a good beer selection and enough fun to be your final destination of the night.
The Red Derby roof, which overlooks northern Columbia Heights, is laid out like how a friend would set up a backyard barbecue. Festive lights stretch across the open air, held up by wooden posts. A bar on the roof means you can park up there at one of the tables for the night without running up and down stairs. There’s no problem going to the Red Derby and staying there all night, especially with their all-can craft beer selection, where prices range from $2 to $10.
Roof of the W Hotel, Penn Quarter
For every casual night out, sometimes it feels nice to dress up and experience more refined D.C. nightlife.
Students who have the means – and the attire – should definitely look at P.O.V., the rooftop terrace of the W Hotel. After being completely redone in 2009, the terrace has become one of D.C.’s hippest spots and best places for a drink with a view. The bar has a laid-back lounge feel, not a crazed open-door nightclub, and is often visited by 30-somethings instead of the more raucous college crowd of other bars. Plus, you have an awesome view from one of the highest points in the city, overlooking the National Mall.
It’s not cheap, though. Cocktails can cost up to $15, and bottles of beer stick to the seemingly D.C. standard markup of $6. This is a place to start or finish your night, not the main event. You get what you pay for though, with the head mixologist crafting a sublime drink menu that fuzes old-style ingredients in new ways. You’ll find drinks mixing quality vodka and gin with elderberry syrup and crushed strawberries. No radioactive blue curacao or sugary sour mix here.
It’s expensive, yes. But the atmosphere and that view really can’t be beat. It’s something everyone should experience at least once.
Biergarten Haus, H Street
You’ve probably heard of H Street’s German-inspired beer garden. Yes, the rumors are true: You can get a liter of beer. And you should.
Biergarten Haus is a beer-lover’s destination, with a spectacular curated list of delicious German brews. Buying a liter is expensive, ranging from $13 to $17, but once you have that much tasty beer in your hands, you’ll be hooked. The food menu is also inspired by German cuisine. Think bar fair, swapping burgers for brats, and some of the best fries in the city – and a bonus if you can read German.
In the back, there is a wide-open beer garden with tons of tables, with heaters and umbrellas for all weather situations. It’s a great open environment for big groups and even bigger beers.