Commencement weekend bars fit for clinking glasses with parents

Media Credit: Graeme Sloan | Contributing Photo Editor

Boqueria, located at 1837 M St. NW, has a sleek interior with counter-style service and tables in close quarters, so you can catch up with your family over sangria and small plates.

With parents in town, it can be hard to adjust your happy hour favorites to suit the tastes of your family.

Luckily, we’ve got more conservative tips on where to replace cheap beers with a classier atmosphere while your folks are in town.

Columbia Room
124 Blagden Alley NW.

For a cocktail bar experience that ups the ante, head to Columbia Room and impress the family with the most fanciful D.C. drinks. Step in and get lost in a wide array of different alcoholic options in the three rooms within the bar.

The Spirits Library is decked out in upholstered chairs and cabinets made of deep mahogany – with rich cocktails to match. Order seasonal concoctions, old fashioneds and highballs with ingredients you’d never expect, like the Calypso Columbo ($15), a gin-based cocktail with spicy Thai syrup, passion fruit, lemon and a dash of yogurt.

Its herbaceous rooftop bar, the Punch Garden, has a separate menu of fruity refreshers that pack a kick. Don’t be fooled by the bourbon-steeped Mint Julep or the Right Side Up (both $16), a strong rye beverage that might leave you tipsy-turvy.

And if you’re looking to get sauced in the classiest way, reserve a spot at the intimate, 14-seat Tasting Room. You’ll have to shell out $85 plus tax and tip, making it the perfect place to bring your parents. Get special treatment with four courses of artisanal cocktails, which are mostly chosen for you and come with a palate-cleansing side dish. These spirits and wines take you and your family on a journey before you start your next one.

1837 M St. NW.

Find a tapas joint that your parents will eat up tucked between the bars and businesses of M Street. Boqueria’s sleek interior offers counter-style service and tables in close quarters, so playing catch-up with the parents is easier. Drink and visit in air conditioning, or sit outside by the hustle and bustle, racking up small plates without feeling guilt since mom and dad will grab the check.

Boqueria’s chalkboard menus spell out three flavors of fruity sangria, and at $44 for a pitcher, the price is enough to make a recent college graduate’s eyes bulge. With your wino mom at the table, she won’t even flinch and can even opt for an extra glass of red, white, sherry or rosé ($12 to $18).

The menu is also fit with ciders, craft and bottled beers ($6 to $10) from the DMV, imported from Spain. With a wide variety, the bar is a good spot to start an evening of drinking while splitting small plates for a bite to eat before dinner.

Tapas span from seasonal innovations to Spanish staples, with vegetarian, meat and seafood options. Order a round of calamari ($14) topped with squid ink and chilies, and then make a toast by clinking together some Nutella-filled churros ($7 to $12).

Bar Deco
717 6th St. NW.

After dinner downtown, take your folks to an area bar that does it all. With an extensive drink list, tasty bar food and rooftop views, Bar Deco is an easy choice.

Settled in the historic Bulletin Building, Bar Deco has four levels. From the entrance floor, an elevator takes you up to the dining space, with a long bar area and rooftop patio. The second floor is a well-lit traditional restaurant, while the third floor boasts a long bar, high tables and a few booths in a narrow space. Along the multiple bars, flat screens play sports games so dad doesn’t miss the score, and the wide windows give you nods to old warehouses.

The rooftop opened for the season last month and features wood chairs looking out at the high-rise exteriors. A single bar on the level offers a narrower menu of drinks and eatables. To prepare to handle the weekend crowd, risk another headache with the brain freeze-inducing frozen rose sangria ($12).

Try some of Bar Deco’s original cocktails that are available on a seasonal basis or one of its many ales. Mix your spirit of choice as the base of your Moscow Mule ($12), or stick to the bar’s myriad of draft beers, ciders, ales, and IPAs ($6 to $9). End your final lap around D.C.’s bar life with a classic, sociable energy.

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