The Ten: Best Spots for Outdoor Cocktailing

Photo courtesy of El Centro D.F./Under a Bushel Photography

Photo courtesy of El Centro D.F./Under a Bushel Photography

So many choices, so little time. The Ten is your guide to the best of the best that D.C. has to offer.

Pack away your slippers and Slanket blanket – spring is finally here. Now it’s time to grab a few friends and get a buzz on al fresco. Here are the ten best spots around town for outdoor cocktailing.

Le Diplomate
Stephen Starr’s French brasserie has plenty of outdoor seating that’s perfect for people watching. There are classic cocktails – including a daiquiri that Hemingway would have loved – and specialty sips like the buzzy Pompidou Plombier made with Bulleit bourbon, crème de cacao and cold brewed coffee.

Play bocce and enjoy gourmet house-made hot dogs while hanging out in the backyard of this U Street wine bar. Oh, yeah, and enjoy some primo vintages from around the globe.

Blue Duck Tavern
The stone terrace of this West End power spot is a great place to lounge on Sunday afternoons while you’re trying to drink away your Saturday night hangover. We find that the apricot-rosemary mimosas are the perfect cure-all.

New Heights
Mmm….gin. Lots and lots of gin. More than 50 varieties in fact. Pair them up with the house-made tonics or simply have your tipple of choice on the rocks while you hang out on the patio.

The Brixton
The roofdeck at this Anglo redoubt on the U Street corridor gives you an eagle-eye view of the District of Confusion while you sip British brews and UK cocktail classics, such as the Pimms Cup.

Café Saint-Ex
Grab a seat street side at this longtime favorite on 14th Street, where you can enjoy a local beer from 3 Stars, DC Brau or Flying Dog.

With 70 seats on the patio, this award winning Italian restaurant boasts one of the biggest outdoor areas in Penn Quarter. Mixologist Jeff Faile offers half a dozen Negronis and an impressive selection of signature cocktails, including the Bombo made with gin and laced with honey, lemon, ginger and cinnamon accents.

Lost Society
Situated on one of the coolest corners in the city – 14th and U – this hipster haven has a great rooftop lounge. While we’re up there, we love sipping sweet ‘n’ spicy jalapeno margaritas.

Lauriol Plaza
Margaritas rule at this Dupont mainstay. We like to park ourselves on the patio and drain pitchers of Gold Cadillacs until closing time.

El Centro D.F.
There are over 200 tequilas and mezcals on hand at this 14th Street hot spot. See how many you can sample before walking down the stairs from the roof deck becomes an impossibility.


Is your favorite missing? Disagree with one (or more) of my choices? Leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter @nevinmartell.


  • Anon

    This list is woefully inadequate without Cantina Marina in Southwest on it.

  • R4L

    Saint Ex has the worst food.

  • scorereader

    What an uppity list! No Cantina Marina?!? No Georgetown Waterfront? ADC? POV? What’s up with this list?

    • RJ

      An uppity list because it *doesn’t* include POV? Home of the jigger-poured, $18 cocktail? Wow.

  • Adam Shapiro
  • aRodeoJock

    Very NW centric. There are 3 other quadrants with some fantastic outdoor seating. Get your heads out of your butts and out of downtown and actually explore this city!