D.C.’s best rooftop bars for scenic views and tasty cocktails

Media Credit: Krishna Rajpara I Assistant Photo Editor

Whether you're perched atop the Watergate Hotel or catching some riverside breeze at The Wharf, the views and drinks at these rooftop bars will not disappoint.

The District may not be known for towering buildings, but the city’s rooftop venues serve up gorgeous views above the D.C. streets with cocktails to sip alongside your friends.

Though a trip out for a drink can cost quite the fortune, the striking sights from some of the District’s rooftop bars are well worth the visit if you’re looking to treat yourself. From vantage points looking down upon the National Mall and across the Potomac River into Arlington, here are a few rooftop bars to visit for the ultimate sunset view while sipping on some creative cocktails.

The Rooftop at the Graham Georgetown
Admire the skyscrapers of Arlington and the steeples of Georgetown University from The Rooftop at the Graham Georgetown. This Instagrammable venue, complete with pink and white flowers draped from twisted branches hanging from the ceiling, is a gorgeous place to kick back and grab a few drinks. The bar’s homey atmosphere trades the mundane marble and concrete commonly seen in the District for rustic wood floors and brick walls. As you watch the sun dip below the Georgetown skyline, snag some tasty small bites like the sourdough bruschetta ($17) or the Thai tiger shrimp flatbread ($20), which incorporates coconut curry and Thai basil. For refreshing drinks that offer one last taste of summer, try the Roosevelt Island cocktail ($17), a mix of bourbon, vodka, iced tea and fresh lemon juice, or the Peach Paradise ($17) with flavored vodka, peach liqueur, elderflower and lemon.

1075 Thomas Jefferson Street NW. Open 4 to 10 p.m., Sunday to Wednesday, 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. Thursday to Saturday. 21+ only.

Vue Rooftop DC
If you’re looking for a more traditional view of D.C. with the National Mall’s finest sites, like the White House and the Washington Monument, look no further than Vue Rooftop DC. Perched on top of historic Hotel Washington, this rooftop is all about the glitz and glamor of downtown. Polished marble bar tops and plush light fixtures are the cherry on top of an already breathtaking experience. Chow down on some parmesan fries ($14) or some olives and country bread ($14) as a starter while you admire the perched view. Try Power to the Peaches ($22), a fruity mix of flavored vodkas, Cointreau, spritz, chamomile honey syrup and lemon for a bright, yet smooth sip.

515 15th St. NW. Open Monday to Thursday 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., Friday 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday 11 to 2 a.m. and Sunday 11 to 12 a.m.

El Techo
Didn’t get enough florals from The Rooftop at the Graham? Look no further than El Techo, a Latin-inspired rooftop bar in Shaw. You won’t find the same grand views as the two previous entries on this list, but the bar offers refuge from the monotonous city blocks outside. You’ll find tons of color throughout the space, from bright yellow chairs to green foliage coating the walls to pink and white flowers hanging from the ceiling. The bar even has decorations sourced straight from Mexico, completing its “Latin jungle vacation-transporting” theme. Sip on a Cinnamon Old Fashioned ($13) while you munch on some carne asada ($5.24) or pork carnitas ($4.49) tacos. Try the papaya or passion fruit margarita for $10 during happy hour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from open to 6:30 p.m.

606 Florida Ave. NW. Open Monday to Thursday 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., Friday 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., Saturday 12 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. and Sunday 12 to 11 p.m.

Top of the Gate
Are you a history nerd? Or is one of Condé Nast Traveler’s “best 15 rooftop bars in the U.S.” enough to impress you? In either case, pop on over to Top of the Gate, sitting on top of, as the name suggests, the notorious Watergate Hotel. From here, you can get a 360 degree view of the D.C. and Arlington skylines. While a trip to the scenic spot carries a hefty price tag, the atmosphere offers a special place to spend with good company. Cozy up with your loved ones on the couches next to a heater or fireplace when the temperature starts to dip at night at this open-air bar. Split a charcuterie board ($32) with some friends and kick back with a Mango Mule cocktail ($25) as you enjoy the sights and revel in the infamy of the Watergate.

2650 Virginia Ave. NW. Open Thursday and Friday 4:30 to 11 p.m., Saturday 4:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Sunday 4:30 to 11 p.m.

Whiskey Charlie
The next time you attend a concert at The Wharf, sip on a few drinks at Whiskey Charlie before heading over to the big show. This bar, set against the backdrop of The Wharf Marina, prides itself on its “nautical vibes,” serving drinks with sea-themed names like the Old Scalawag ($18) made with bourbon, Grand Mariner and bitters or the Seaside ($18) made with vodka, mango sage syrup and lime. Modern and rustic designs, from wood tables to metallic accents mesh here to create an outdoor deck and indoor lounge atmosphere rarely found anywhere else in D.C. Food-wise, you can order some classic bar snacks like blue corn nachos ($14) to satisfy your hunger.

975 7th Street SW. Open Monday to Thursday 5 to 10 p.m., Friday 3 p.m. to 12 a.m., Saturday 2 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Sunday 2 to 10 p.m. 21+ only.

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