Illustrations by Stephanie Rudig
Illustrations by Stephanie Rudig

We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Several establishments across the city are capitalizing on the District’s consistent desire to take the edge off by introducing alcohol into the mix. Sometimes you just need a drink. Why does it have to be in a traditional bar? 

At the Gym

Upper West Side Cafe, 2233 M St. NW; (202) 241-2233;

If you don’t bristle at places that label themselves as “boutique,” head to the Upper West Side Cafe located inside the West End’s new squash club—not the vegetable but the sport involving racquets and a ball that refuses to bounce. Squash on Fire’s bar has signature cocktails ($13-$15) like the “4/20” Striker with Champagne, hibiscus, and hemp seeds plus $7 beers and nine wines by the glass ($11-$14). Visit 8 a.m. daily, evening closures vary during the week.

On the Capital Wheel

Flight Deck, 116 Waterfront St., National Harbor, MD; 301-842-8650;

Maybe you want to have the kind of date that only seems possible in ’90s rom coms? National Harbor’s most pronounced attraction recently added a bar component they’re calling Flight Deck. Wine, beer, and cider are all offered. The only catch is that you have to pay an extra $8 per drink to bring your libation on the Ferris wheel because it requires a special cup. Flight Deck is open weekdays from 4-11 p.m. and weekends from 12-11 p.m.

Before You Get Locked in a Room

Escape Room Live, 3345 M St. NW; (800) 616-4880;

Escape rooms are a fun diversion for friends or a solid ice breaker for you and your future in-laws. One of the newest locations of the puzzle rooms to open in D.C. is in Georgetown and includes a bar, so you can imbibe before or after you get locked into a somewhat confined space for 45 minutes. Offerings include beer ($5.50-$7.50), Smirnoff Ice ($6), and Seven Sisters Wine ($7.50). The bar is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3-9 p.m.; Fridays from 12-10 p.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

In The Grocery Store

Whole Foods, 600 H St. NE; (202) 469-7410;

The bright and shiny Whole Foods on H Street NE has some sweet perks like a giant freezer of mochi ice cream and CAVA products not sold elsewhere. But the biggest draw is the “H Street Lounge” perched above all the well-stocked aisles. The spacious bar with flatscreen TVs and snacks pours 16 draft beers in an array of sizes and eight wines by the glass ($7-$10). Go from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily. 

Under a Blowdryer 

Sip & Dry, 2004 Hecht Ave. NE; (202) 635-6483;

If your stylist is in a good mood and isn’t slammed, you might be able to get a glass of bubbly at Drybar, but non-chain salon Sip & Dry in Ivy City has a full-on cocktail bar and a specific drink to match each blow-dry style. For example, The Sue Ellen (big bouncy curls) comes with a “Whiskey Slap” cocktail for $48. If you want more than just the one  cocktail that comes with your blowout, buy more at the four-seat bar. Sip & Dry is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2-8 p.m.; Fridays from 12-10 p.m; Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.