MoCo’s Founding Farmers serves up lots of creative cocktails, including this colorful blackberry sour. Photo by Laura Chase McGehee

Creative Cocktails | Masterful Martinis | Lots of Whiskey | Wine Bars | Extensive Wine Lists | Beer Heaven | Dinner at the Bar | Eye-catching Décor | Buzzing Scenes | Under the Stars | Lively Happy Hours  | Brewed in Our Backyard | Quirky Dives | Neighborhood Favorites | Swanky Bars

MoCo’s Founding Farmers serves inventive cocktails, including the White Star, with rum, gin, mint, cucumber, lime and bitters. Photos by Laura Chase McGehee


Creative Cocktails

Redwood restaurant & bar

Fruit-forward martinis—such as a tart ’n’ tangy pomegranate and a cooling cucumber-lime ($11 each)—can be enjoyed alfresco at this Bethesda Lane hideaway favored by shoppers and the stroller set. General manager Colin Brennan oversees the cocktail program, creating a changing series of seasonal sips, including the King Slayer, a perky mixture of gin, Benedictine, lime juice and bitters ($12). Another summertime standout is his boozy cream soda, creatively crafted with vanilla vodka, ginger beer and aromatic bitters ($10).

7121 Bethesda Lane, Bethesda; 301-656-5515;



At Range, you’ll find boundary-pushing savory concoctions, such as the scotch-amped Vegan Sacrifice, featuring an ice pop made with broth that’s been fortified with charcuterie ($12), and the Le Jardinier, featuring carrot juice, ginger and basil, plus plenty of gin ($12). Beverage director Dane Nakamura gives his inventive creations unforgettable names, such as What’s With All the Tattoos? and Waking Up to Cannonfire, making these drinks as fun to order as they are to sip.
5335 Wisconsin Ave. NW, #201, Washington, D.C.; 202-803-8020;

MoCo’s Founding Farmers

There’s a singular taste to many cocktails here, because they feature rye, gin and pisco distilled especially for the restaurant. Beverage director Jon Arroyo and his team use the spirits to handcraft both classic and more unique drinks—such as Ernesto the Farmer ($12) with pisco, lime juice, star anise syrup, Peruvian bitters and ginger. “I want to be sure that guests not only have a good time, but that they’re comfortable and able to experience something new with each visit,” Arroyo says. That’s why he created the dealer’s choice ($10-$14); barkeeps will make a drink based on your preferences, such as the Trinidad Sour with rye, Angostura bitters, orgeat syrup and lemon juice.  
12505 Park Potomac Ave., Potomac, 301-340-8783,

The Brooklyn martini at Olazzo includes prosecco and gin. Photos by Laura Chase McGehee


Masterful Martinis


More than a dozen martinis vie for your attention at both locations of this Italian restaurant. Options range from the bubbly, such as the prosecco-pumped, gin-based Brooklyn ($8), to the tastefully tart, as in the house martini featuring raspberry vodka, red wine, and cranberry and pineapple juice ($8). Or go for something truly decadent, such as the White Chocolate with vanilla vodka, Godiva liqueur and crème de cacao ($8).

7921 Norfolk Ave., Bethesda; 301-654-9496; 8235 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring; 301-588-2540;

Wildwood Kitchen

If dirty martinis are your choice, set your GPS for Robert Wiedmaier’s Mediterranean venture in Bethesda’s Wildwood Shopping Center. Beverage director Mitch Johnson employs a 5-to-1 ratio of Plymouth gin to Dolin dry vermouth in the $12 martinis, and then adds plenty of olive juice and a trio of olives. If you want to step up your olive game, you can request versions stuffed with blue cheese or feta.


10223 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda; 301-571-1700;

Sushi Damo

There are martinis and then there are saketinis, which are powered by Japanese rice wine instead of gin or vodka. Sushi Damo in Rockville Town Square offers 10 fruit-forward creations, including a refreshing mandarin, a sweet ’n’ smooth peach and a tastefully tart pomegranate ($12 each). If you’d prefer a martini, there are plenty of those, too. The pear-ginger, made with Absolut Citron, is
a standout ($12).
36-G Maryland Ave., Rockville; 301-340-8010;

Civil Cigar Lounge General Manager Paul Spence pours a glass of Glenlivet’s 16-year-old single malt scotch Nàdurra. Photo by Laura Chase McGehee


Lots of Whiskey

Branded ’72

Nothing goes better with barbecue than bourbon, and this no-frills Texas-style joint serves up plenty to complement its 18-hour beef brisket, slow-smoked pulled pork and fall-off-the-bone tender ribs. The array of shots includes traditional favorites—such as Wild Turkey ($6) and Bulleit ($6.50)—as well as more adventurous options, including a triple-smoked bourbon from Corsair ($12). On Friday and Saturday nights, your foot will be tapping along to the bands on the small stage as you knock back a tumbler (or two).

387 E. Gude Drive, Rockville; 301-340-8596;

Barrel + Crow

The spirits list at this Woodmont Triangle restaurant focuses on whiskey in its many glorious incarnations, including locally distilled ryes from Catoctin Creek ($9), Copper Fox ($11) and Filibuster ($11). Try the latter in the darkly sweet and slightly spicy Fall of D.C. cocktail, along with lemon, maple syrup, spiced apple cider reduction and cayenne ($12). Your choice of bourbons features nationally known brands, as well as a few boutique bottles from Angel’s Envy ($10) and Hudson Baby ($18). “I wanted to have something for everybody—from lighter options to smokier styles,” says co-owner and general manager Patrick Forest.


4867 Cordell Ave., Bethesda; 240-800-3253;

Civil Cigar Lounge

You can sip on a stunning selection of whiskey, bourbon, rye and scotch at this smokery, which is decked out in rich reds and polished dark woods. The extensive bottle list can be sampled in 1- or 2-ounce pours. Choices range from affordable luxuries to hard-to-find rarities, including a 23-year-old vintage bourbon from Pappy Van Winkle ($90 or $180) and a 25-year-old single barrel Balvenie scotch ($60 or $120). “I continue to look for new, interesting things, like distillers playing with different grains or using different aging techniques,” says co-owner Matt Krimm, who recommends trying Glenlivet’s 16-year-old single malt scotch Nàdurra, which was aged in bourbon casks ($10 or $20).  

5335 Wisconsin Ave. NW, #200, Washington, D.C.; 202-364-0800;


The Wine Harvest in Park Potomac houses nearly 425 different wines. Photo by Laura Chase McGehee

Wine Bars

Vino Volo

Part bistro, part wine shop, this delightful dual concept on Bethesda Row is favored by oenophiles and wine newbies who appreciate the approachable pricing. Perch on a rattan-seated stool at a table in the center of the store or grab a seat in the bustling dining room. Flights helpfully grouped by theme are an easy way to explore Vino Volo’s selections, though the smart staff can also make a more targeted suggestion that’s tailored to your tastes. The shop’s shelves boast a global array of vintages and a small selection of local wines, so the party doesn’t have to end when you leave.

7247 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-656-0916;


Urban Winery

Mahogany meets exposed brick to create a rustic industrial vibe in this winery’s tasting room. The space and its owners, Damon and Georgia Callis, forgo the stuffiness that can come with wine appreciation, making newcomers feel completely comfortable. Unwind with a glass of wine made on-site, such as the perfect-for-summertime oaked chardonnay ($10) or the big-bodied zinfandel-syrah blend they’ve dubbed Philotimo ($11). In warm-weather months, fruitier fare—such as tangy blueberry pinot noir ($8) or a snappy green apple riesling ($8)—hits the spot.        

949 Bonifant St., Silver Spring; 301-585-4100;

Adega Wine Cellars & Cafe

This downtown Silver Spring wine shop and Mediterranean-minded eatery has been keeping customers buzzing for more than a decade. The shelves are packed with blue-ribbon bargains, reasonably priced overachievers and tougher-to-find varietals. Wednesday evenings are the night to dine here; after 5 p.m., all bottles $19.99 and above are 25 percent off with the purchase of two entrées. On Saturday evenings from 4 to 7 p.m., the shop hosts complimentary thematic wine tastings that feature everything from biodynamic newcomers to Old World classics.


8519 Fenton St., Silver Spring; 301-608-2200;

The Wine Harvest

Beverage director Andrew Meyrowitz keeps nearly 425 different wines on hand at this well-stocked Potomac store and wine bar, including domestic and international standouts at a variety of price points. Can’t find what you’re looking for? He’s happy to hunt down anything your palate desires. Recently, Meyrowitz found an 80-year-old bottle of rare port for a customer. On most Tuesday evenings, the Wine Harvest hosts complimentary tastings of the hottest and hardest to find vintages from around the globe.

12525-B Park Potomac Ave., Potomac; 240-314-0177;



Jeff Heineman of Grapeseed with one of the restaurant’s special bottles, a $625 Louis Roederer brut rosé Champagne. Photo by Laura Chase McGehee

Extensive Wine Lists

Redwood restaurant & bar

The menu here provides tasting notes to guide drinkers. Rosés are “dry, fruit forward, a little spice,” while a subset of whites are “full and juicy wines, many with oak barrel influences.” This approach demystifies the selection process for wine neophytes. There are plenty of wines by the glass to be enjoyed on the cobblestone patio. When the mercury spikes, Spy Valley’s 2014 sauvignon blanc—crisp with a hint of passion fruit—is an excellent choice ($13 glass, $52 bottle).


7121 Bethesda Lane, Bethesda; 301-656-5515;


At chef-owner Jeff Heineman’s blond-wood bistro, the titanic wine list spans the planet. Luckily, the well-informed staff is happy to help you navigate. Many of the bottles are in the $40 range, and there are more than 50 options available by the glass, making it easy to drink on a budget. Within each varietal, guests can choose from a range of regions and producers. “That way they can try different expressions of the same wine in contrasting styles,” Heineman says. “A New Zealand sauvignon blanc has lots of stone-fruit notes, but a French one is herbaceous and rounder.” Looking to splurge for a celebration? There’s a $625 bottle of Louis Roederer brut rosé Champagne on hand.

4865 Cordell Ave., Bethesda; 301-986-9592;


Seasons 52

In keeping with the name, there are 52 wines by the glass at this popular North Bethesda spot. Master sommelier George Miliotes handpicks each one and assigns sassy tasting notes, such as a “silky smooth and sexy” pinot noir and a “rich and plump with power” shiraz. There are even diet-friendly red and white selections clocking in at only 150 calories a glass, so you can feel OK about treating yourself without canceling out the benefits of your Pilates session.

11414 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda; 301-984-5252;

A mega list of brews makes beer lovers happy at Barrel + Crow in Bethesda. Photo by Laura Chase McGehee


Beer Heaven

Mussel Bar & Grille

Behind the bar at Robert Wiedmaier’s Bethesda Row restaurant, a wall of glass-fronted fridges showcases more than 200 bottles. There are also 15 frequently rotated drafts, all of which are $2 off during happy hour (all day on Mondays, as well as 4 to 6 p.m. on the other days of the week). As with the chef’s other eateries, the selection includes a large percentage of Belgian beers or those brewed in a similar style. Splurge-worthy suds include Dubuisson Cuvee’s limited-edition Speciale Scaldis Prestige ($85 for a 750-milliliter bottle).

7262 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-215-7817;

Tyber Bierhaus

It’s Oktoberfest all year long here. Twenty taps highlight beers from Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic, as well as a few American craft beers that mimic their styles. The stripped-down setting includes indoor picnic tables sourced from Munich’s Oktoberfest, a comfy back booth, and a long bar that sits underneath a chalkboard advertising what’s on draft. While you’re sipping from your stein, you can dig into a sausage platter or soft Bavarian pretzels.

7525 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda; 240-821-6830;

Barrel + Crow

At this hophead’s heaven, there are a dozen drafts and nearly 90 bottled beers, including regional favorites from Flying Dog Brewery, the Port City Brewing Co. and the Evolution Craft Brewing Co. On Sundays after 3 p.m., drafts are half price in the bar area. “It’s
nice to drink something you’re not familiar with and learn something more about
it,” says co-owner and general manager Patrick Forest.

4867 Cordell Ave., Bethesda; 240-800-3253;

The bar at Pizzeria Da Marco offers a view of the restaurant’s wood-fired oven. Photo by Laura Chase McGehee

Dinner at the Bar

Urban Butcher

You get the best of the bistro and the butchery at this meatopia when you belly up to the bar. You will have an excellent view of the meat cellar to see what’s aging, while simultaneously being able to watch the action unfolding in the bustling dining room. Solo diners are well served by ordering a board of house-made charcuterie, such as rounds of Espelette pepper-amped saucisson ($5), lamb bacon ($7) and smoked bluefish rillettes ($5).
8226 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring; 301-585-5800;

Woodmont Grill

This long-loved Woodmont Triangle institution recalls a bygone era. Live jazz floats through the bar while subdued lighting sets a soothing tone for noshing on burgers, salads and entrées. Behind the dark wood bar are shelves full of liquor flanked by glass-fronted wine fridges. The cocktail menu would earn the approval of Don Draper—including a bourbon sour sweetened with cinnamon-accented maple syrup ($13) and the DMV Negroni with locally made Green Hat gin ($14).
7715 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-656-9755;

Pizzeria da marco

In the mood for a pie and a show? Sidle up to the end of this Neapolitan pizzeria’s marble bar, close to the wood-fired, 900-degree oven. There, you can watch the pizzaiolos work their magic. Carnivores should hone in on the “Solo Carne” ($14.95) with sausage, pepperoni and salami, while vegetable-lovers would be well served by the primavera (zucchini, roasted peppers, mushrooms and more, $13).

8008 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-654-6083;

The sleek wood bar at Food Wine & Co. Photo by Stacy Zarin-Goldberg

Eye-catching Décor

Co2 Lounge

Bold browns and rich golds dominate this tastefully designed lounge. Teardrop fixtures and tiny light globes overhead add a gauzy sheen to the after-dark scene, which comes alive on Friday nights with DJs and live music. Whether you commandeer a stool at the marble bar or sit on one of the ruby red couches, you can revel in the ritzy vibe while surrounded by the sharply dressed customers who frequent the lounge.

7401 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-654-8333;

Tower Oaks Lodge

You’ll think you’ve stepped into an haute hunting lodge when you drink at this woodsy watering hole, which was inspired by the “Great Camps” of the Gilded Age that dot the Adirondack Mountains. Boughs crisscross arched ceilings that feature generous skylights. The stuffed heads of wild game peer from the walls, several canoes hang from the ceiling, and the stained glass fixtures are emblazoned with the outlines of fern fronds.
2 Preserve Parkway, Rockville; 301-294-0200;

Food Wine & Co.

The top of the long wood bar at Food Wine & Co. is light in color and has the sleekness of a bowling lane. It contrasts nicely with the dark woods that shape the bar and the tangerine-hued accents that trace the upper reaches of the room. Slide onto a leather-topped stool for a business chat with a colleague or a rendezvous with a sweetheart.
7272 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda; 301-652-8008;

A lively crowd often gathers for oysters and drinks at Black’s Bar & Kitchen. Photo by Skip Brown

Buzzing Scenes

Summer House Santa Monica

This airy and bright bar in Pike & Rose makes you feel like you’re hanging out at a boathouse party near the Santa Monica pier in California. The space is done up in linen white and sandy tones to recall the seashore. An upbeat pop soundtrack complements the crowds of chatty millennials, couples and well-dressed women. The “chef-crafted” cocktails are popular, including the cinnamon-y, allspice-accented Apple Pie Old Fashioned ($12) and the Palm Fizz ($12), which features aromatized wine and prosecco.

11825 Grand Park Ave., North Bethesda; 301-881-2381;

Sugo Osteria

This Potomac standout peps up its urban décor—a concrete floor and an iron-outlined bar—with a few colorful touches, most notably a wall mural formed out of red, yellow and white tiles. A diverse crowd—from old friends to fresh-faced 20-somethings—takes over the bar on weekends, creating a vibrant atmosphere. The well-done cocktails are a big draw, especially the Call Me Big Grappa ($11) with tones of ginger, apricot and citrus.

12505 Park Potomac Ave., Potomac; 240-386-8080;

Gringos & Mariachis

The crowd that packs the L-shaped bar here is young, hip and loud. Dark with exposed brick and reclaimed wood, the bar draws millennials and Gen Xers with creative and fun cocktails (with names such as Low Rider and Tijuana Zebra) and an extensive selection of beer, tequila and margaritas. For something different, try the jalapeño-cucumber margarita, made with Sauza Signature Blue Silver tequila, lime, jalapeño, cucumber and simple syrup ($8).

4928 Cordell Ave., Bethesda; 240-800-4266;

Black’s Bar & Kitchen

Crowds of young professionals, old friends and families all congregate at restaurateur Jeff Black’s buzzy joint to catch up over local drafts and an extensive selection of wines. You may have to jostle to get a seat—the room overfills on both weekends and weekdays, thanks in part to one of the best deals on oysters around (two for $2.25 from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday).

7750 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-652-5525;

Picnic tables line the large patio at Denizens Brewing Co. in Silver Spring. Photo by Stacy Zarin-Goldberg

Under the Stars

Summer House Santa Monica

There’s a countdown to summer on the wall next to the bar, so you always know how many days before alfresco season. On the sidewalk outside, moviegoers waiting for their showtime, shoppers and groups of friends sip and sup under crisp white umbrellas. The wine list showcases half a dozen sustainably produced and biodynamic wines. On a summer’s eve, we zone in on Kistler Vineyards’ Les Noisetiers Chardonnay ($14 glass, $58 bottle), which is rich with green apple and butterscotch notes.

11825 Grand Park Ave., North Bethesda; 301-881-2381;

Denizens Brewing Co.

Strings of white lights crisscross above an outdoor patio festooned with picnic tables and able to accommodate 200 customers. The super-casual atmosphere—dogs allowed!—is well-suited for knocking back freshly pulled pints of house-brewed beer and listening to the bands that occasionally play there. In warm weather, it’s hard to go wrong with a Southside Rye IPA ($6.50) with refreshing citrus accents. Pair it with the spicy green mango salad ($7).

1115 East West Highway, Silver Spring; 301-557-9818;

Old Angler’s Inn

It’s easy to beat the heat at this Potomac institution because the tables dotting the cobblestone patio are shaded by both boughs and umbrellas. At night, strings of pearly white lights bring the space to life. To complement the food menu, there’s a small selection of faithfully executed Prohibition-era cocktails, as well as more creative concoctions, such as the Smokey Pineapple, made with mescal, honey-pineapple syrup, pineapple juice, lime juice and bitters ($14).

10801 MacArthur Blvd., Potomac; 301-365-2425;

Bartender Tyler Cotting serves sliders and oyster shooters, part of the $5 deals at PassionFish Bethesda’s happy hour. Photo by Michael Ventura

Lively Happy Hours

Mon Ami Gabi

This tres magnifique Parisian-style bistro on Bethesda Row offers happy hour from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Discounted drinks include a glass of Stella Artois for $3 and Marquis de la Tour sparkling wine for $5.50. They perfectly complement classic French fare that includes mussels marinière, rich country pâté, and oven-roasted escargot in a pool of melted herb butter (each dish is $6).

7239 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-654-1234;

Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar

Say “hola” to happy hour, which runs daily from 4 to 7 p.m. and from 9 to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. It’s only $5 for sangria, mojitos and margaritas (a standout is the tart and zingy pomegranate-ginger). Rum flights are $5 off, so a 21-year-old vintage from Appleton Estate and two other top-shelf bottles become a more affordable luxury. Complement your sips with crispy yucca fries ($3.95), queso fundido ($7.95) and other specially priced bites.
11333 Woodglen Drive, Rockville; 301-816-1100; 203 Crown Park Ave., Gaithersburg; 301-330-4400;

PassionFish Bethesda

It’s amazing what you can get for $5. The long list of discounted happy-hour bites and bevvies includes Singlo prosecco, several wines, half a dozen specialty cocktails, more than a dozen draft beers, crab cake sliders, blackened mahimahi tacos and bloody mary-inspired oyster shooters. Perhaps best of all, the specials run every day of the week—3 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 4 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
7187 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-358-6116;

Waredaca Brewing Co.’s beer can be enjoyed in the tasting room or on a countryside patio. Photo by Michael Ventura

Brewed in Our Backyard

Denizens Brewing Co.

Though it opened less than two years ago, this establishment is already a serious player in the Washington area suds scene. Much of that success can be attributed to Director of Brewing Operations Jeff Ramirez, who constantly creates limited-edition beers—such as the citrus-kissed, springtime crowd pleaser Short Session Double IPA—to complement the slate of standards. Take a tour and try five brews on Saturday afternoons ($10; reservations required).
1115 East West Highway, Silver Spring; 301-557-9818;

7 Locks Brewing

This industrial-style production facility and taproom doesn’t have much flair, but it is home to some flavorful brews. For a lighter experience, go with Owen’s Ordinary Pale Ale ($6). If you’d like something heavier, try the roasty ’n’ toasty Coffee Stout ($6). Either way, come expecting the unexpected as brewer Thomas Hartman changes the selections frequently. Food isn’t sold on-site (except from the occasional food truck), so you may want to come armed with your own.  

12227 Wilkins Ave., Rockville; 301-841-7123;

Waredaca Brewing Co.

This former camp for boys in the countryside has been transformed into an eco-minded farmhouse brewery. Every beer features at least one ingredient that was grown or produced on-site. Cascade hops power the Maude Belgian dubbel ($6), while honey sweetens up the Little Dam wheat beer ($6). Enjoy a pint and a compact menu of small bites (or bring your own food) in the fuss-free tasting room, where there’s plenty of seating around long rustic wooden tables, or head outside to hoist one under the stars at a picnic table on the patio.

4017 Damascus Road, Gaithersburg; 301-774-2337;

Rockville institution Hank Dietle’s Tavern. Photo by April Witt

Quirky Dives

The Barking Dog

There’s a Cheers-y atmosphere at this well-worn downtown Bethesda mainstay. After a few visits, don’t be surprised if the bartender greets you by name and remembers your drink of choice. It’s a pretense-free operation with equally humble offerings, which range from Bud Light and Michelob Ultra to local craft brews from Flying Dog and Heavy Seas, as well as full-strength cocktails and a small number of modest wines.  

4723 Elm St., Bethesda; 301-654-0022;

Quarry House Tavern

When a fire ravaged this subterranean sipper club in downtown Silver Spring, regulars feared their favorite spot for no-frills drinking was gone. Thankfully, owner Jackie Greenbaum temporarily moved the tavern across the street into Piratz Tavern’s former space. Now the original location will be resurrected this spring in all its dimly-lit glory. The aim is to make the grungy basement space the same as before—though there will be a new AC to keep customers cool during the summer.
8401 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring; 301-587-8350;

Hank Dietle’s Tavern

No frills, no fuss, but plenty of cheap drinks. This 100-year-old Rockville roadhouse began as a general store before morphing into a proudly self-classified “dive bar.” Lit up with neon beer signs, it gets its patrons fired up with a steady schedule of live music—from rock ’n’ roll and rockabilly to jazz and blues. A pool table, a jukebox and a few video games keep drinkers entertained as they hang out in a defiantly timeless and trend-free environment.

11010 Rockville Pike, Rockville; 301-881-8711;

The Irish Inn at Glen Echo sees a steady flow of locals. Photo by Skip Brown

Neighborhood Favorites


Before brewpubs were the new big thing, this two-level spot was producing ales and lagers galore, which attracted the neighbors—who never left. They flock here to knock back a few pints of the house creations, such as the King Brownie Nitro Milk Stout ($7)—which tastes like a chocolate cookie dunked in an espresso milkshake—and the light and refreshing Log Town Golden Ale ($6). On Friday and Saturday nights, the upstairs saloon hosts live music, so locals can rock out without having to go far.

227 E. Diamond Ave., Gaithersburg;301-519-9400;

Lock 72 Kitchen & Bar

There’s a friendly home-away-from-home feeling at this neighborhood favorite (formerly called River Falls Tavern) owned by chef Robert Wiedmaier’s RW Restaurant Group and located in the Potomac Village Shopping Center. Regulars gather for drinks around the rectangular centerpiece bar in the dining room, which is accented with stone and bricks. Looking for a bite to go with your pint or pinot? There’s plenty of American fare presented with a cheffy flourish, such as a Wagyu beef burger topped with tomato jam and smoked mozzarella ($24).

10128 River Road, Potomac; 301-299-0481;

The Irish Inn at Glen Echo

Walk in on a Monday night and you’ll swear you’re in Dublin. Live traditional Irish music bounces off the hardwood floors, and the draft beers favor the Emerald Isle, too, including Harp Lager, Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale and Guinness Extra Stout, of course (all $7). Ireland’s classic brand of warm hospitality pervades here, which keeps regulars returning to hoist pints while toasting their companions with “sláinte!”

6119 Tulane Ave., Glen Echo; 301-229-6600;

Bar patrons are treated to a ritzy atmosphere at Stanford Grill in Rockville. Photo by Stacy Zarin-Goldberg

Swanky Bars

Civil Cigar Lounge

You might think you’re in Manhattan when you saunter into this sleekly-designed cigar bar next door to Bryan Voltaggio’s modern-minded Range, which provides the food. Walnut-hued wood and rich reds dominate, accented by skull-themed wallpaper and golden teardrop fixtures over the glass-encased cigar counter. A bank of humidified lockers allows puffers to store their favorite cigars on-site.

5335 Wisconsin Ave. NW, #200, Washington, D.C.; 202-364-0800;

The Capital Grille

Like a luxe hunting lodge from Teddy Roosevelt’s era, this Chevy Chase bar revels in masculine touches. The stuffed heads of two stags stare down from the walls next to the gold-accented bar. Crystal pendant light fixtures cast a sepia tone over a room done up in opulent burgundies and dark wood. Wine locker renters can keep cherished bottles on hand and are given perks, such as having access to sales of hard-to-find vintages.

5310 Western Ave., Chevy Chase; 301-718-7812;

Stanford Grill

There’s a slick, sleek look to this Rockville redoubt, which specializes in steak house fare and sushi. Browns, oranges and blacks echo the colors of a roaring fireplace. Its duskily-lit rectangular bar is a booming behemoth, great for date nights, business meetings or a catch-up with friends. Or you can grab a stool, sip a martini and simply watch the action unfold.

2000 Tower Oaks Blvd., Rockville; 240-582-1000;

Nevin Martell is a D.C.-based food and travel writer, and author of the travelogue-memoir Freak Show Without a Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. He can be found on Twitter and Instagramv@nevinmartell.

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