Bars That Are Just Bars on NYE
BYT at large | Dec 27, 2017 | 12:00PM |

Did you check out our NYE party guide? Didn’t find anything you like, huh? Don’t want to deal with a cover? Don’t want to deal with a lame bar party? Don’t want a champagne toast or a second rate band? You’ve come to the right place. In the list below, you wont find any Great Gatsby themed parties (why are we still doing these?) or black tie galas. Just good bars that will be good bars whether it’s December 31st, 2017 or January 1st, 2018.

A&D

From Best Bars Without TVs: If you want to hang out in Shaw and near our [old] office, head to A&D. We included A&D in our Least Douchey Bars In D.C. 2013 edition because it’s relaxing, calm and fancy but not too fancy. It’s a good place to drink and act like a non-sports fan adult.

All Souls

From Best Bars Without TVs: All Souls bills itself as a ‘corner bar.’ Technically, that’s true. It’s on a corner and it is a bar. It is not a corner bar. It’s a dark cocktail bar ideal for conversations with one other person. If you’re looking for a pleasant Sunday evening date spot, this is for you.

American Ice Company

From The Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2012: American Ice Company can get fairly out of control and unmanageable on weekends when crowds rush inside, but what place on a weekend that’s worth it isn’t going to be loaded?

Anxo Cidery at Kennedy Street

From The Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2017: You’re in the right place. Your phone is correct. Google Maps did not direct you to the wrong location. ANXO Cidery at Kennedy Street is east of 16th Street Heights, northwest of Fort Totten, in Brightwood Park. It’s in the middle of a mixed business and residential street. It has a comfortable, neighborhood-y vibe. You enter through the alley. Your views to the outside are backs of houses. It feels like more Portland, Oregon or Portland, Maine than Washington, D.C.

Atlas Tap Room

From Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2016: The clean, no frills Atlas Tap Room is great for the beer aficionado, casual drinker and local business supporter. Atlas is our favorite brewery and the new tap room makes visits to pick up Rowdy a lot more attractive.

Atomic Billiards

From Basement Bars of the District: Pool tables, craft beer, and board games, but without the over-the-top aspects of Rocket Bar, Iron Horse, or Penn Social. Atomic is still, in many ways, just a neighborhood bar, which is exactly what makes it perfect.

Bedrock Billiards

From The Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2014: Bedrock Billiards in Adams Morgan sounds like it would be horrible. The location screams douche, the idea of a pool hall bar sounds douchey and, once again, Adams Morgan. But it’s not. Maybe it’s because it’s in a basement it doesn’t attract the kind of clientele that frequents most Adams Morgan rooftops. Maybe it’s the lack of windows and ample space. But Rocket has no windows and ample space and it’s a very douchey bar. Location matters. For some reason, this location works.

Capitol Lounge

From Basement Bars of the District: Cap Lounge has a basement, complete with a tiny bar, pool table, low ceilings, and a chance to talk to people who’ve lived in the neighborhood for years. The bar itself is worthy of medium praise. The basement, however, is worth regular visits.

Colada Shop

From The Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2017: There’s a lot going on at Colada Shop. It’s a cute cafe. It’s an excellent Cuban lunch spot. And it also churns out drinks so good it feels like you could actually be in Cuba.

The Commodore

From The Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2017: The Commodore bills itself as a five start dive. That’s not quite correct. It’s not a dive. They $6 special for a pint of American beer and a shot of the bartenders choosing (we got Four Roses). This special should be a requirement for every bar. The tap handle for the cheap American beer features a flag, an eagle and stars. On our most recent visit, all of our glassware was promotional items (Record Store Day pint glass, Jameson shot glasses). The bartender wore a very worn in Chicago White Sox cap. In a city of with a lot of frills, no frills bars are rare.

Dan’s Cafe

From The Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2017: A true dive, Dan’s Cafe appears closed. It’s always appeared closed. It’s hot and falling apart and is it open? It looks closed. It’s not a secret bar. There’s no password. But there’s no clear signage. Anyway, if you enjoy actual dives, and drinking out of plastic condiment bottles, you can find no better place than this Adams Morgan institution. FYI, it’s cash only. Like a real dive bar.

Denson’s

From Basement Bars of the District: The bar in the basement is one of the smallest in the District, but also has some of the best cocktail bartenders in the trade. If it’s busy, order from the menu, say “please,” and tip big. If it’s slow, don’t even touch the menu, and just tell your bartender what kinds of flavors you like. Their menu is fine, but the bar shines when their staff improvises new drinks.

Duke’s Counter

From Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2016: Duke’s Counter is not smelly or overpriced and not rude to new people. It looks clean and bright and serves the stuff that’s made Duke’s Grocery in Dupont a success. We recommend the specialty drinks, they’re massive in both size and punch. One of those and a sandwich should be enough for two.

Duke’s Grocery

From The Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2014: 17th street has always been a great place to hide from 18th (and now 14th street) and do some low key drinks. Now that Duke’s is here, there’s no reason to not make it one of your primary destinations too. The ground floor bar gets busy, but maintains a neighborhood-y vibe at all times. The sandwiches are some of the most intense in town. The bar snacks are good enough for a full meal. The staff is both nice and not overbearing. The beer list is good, the bottles of wine are half off on Mondays, and NO ONE is ever rushing you.

The Good Silver

From The Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2017: The renovation was smart. Making the bar bigger was a good idea and knocking down some of those walls was an even better one. Their cheeseburger was excellent (it might even be better than The Coupe’s burger) and the drinks were great.

Ivy and Coney

From The Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2014: If you think Chicago and Detroit neighborhood bars are douchey, this is the douchiest bar in D.C. If you think no frills neighborhood bars with cheap beer (Old Style), medium priced beer (Goose Island) and hot dogs (Chicago and Coney style) are the opposite of douche, we agree.

Jackpot

From Basement Bars of the District: This bar is an exercise in Zen-like simplicity. The only distractions in this bar are the four or five flatscreens, and a popcorn machine. No goofy boardgames, no pool tables, no shuffleboard, no skeeball. This is a simple bar, with a sizable number of taps, a handful of craft cocktails, and some barstools. This is still a Bedrock bar, but it’s significantly different from the others in the flock. In here, the lack of distractions has managed the impossible; it’s made people turn toward each other and actually have a conversation. The noise in here doesn’t come from the game on TV, or the jukebox. It’s discourse and dialogue. It’s just people drinking and talking, the way we all should.

Jug & Table

From The Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2017: A horrible name for a nice win bar. The first floor of Roofers Union is not really Roofers Union. That’s a very good thing. Same staff as Roofers (their staff is nice, regardless of rooftop, Roofers or wine bar) in a much more comfortable atmosphere.

Kingfisher

From Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2016: Their beer menu is solid, they offer everyone free popcorn and they’re a basement bar. Basement bars can’t have much pretension, that’s for basement clubs.

Lyman’s Tavern

From Best Bars Without TVs: When compiling these lists the first thought is to include Red Derby. The no frills, low key bar does have a TV. Yelp says it does not. It does. It’s in the back room. Lyman’s, next door to Red Derby, does not have a television. It does have pinball machines and a great jukebox and free popcorn.

Maxwell

From Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2017: Maxwell’s motto is “Anything but Pinot Grigio” but that’s sort of where the pretense ends: the staff wears t-shirts, the by-the-glass (and half glass, and half bottle and bottle) selection is plentiful and seasonally adjusted, and everyone is VERY NICE TO YOU. Always. This is the wine bar D.C. deserved and finally got: an opportunity to not drink canned beer for your 9:30 Club or DC9 outing, and still feel (mostly) rock’n’roll about it.

McClellan’s Retreat

From The Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2015: Nestled in the nook next to a drycleaners (and in the former Veritas location) McClellans is a dark (but friendly), cocktail driven (but not pretentious) operation that doesn’t try to do anything aside from simply be itself. And being itself is the #1 bar on this list we’d recommend you take a first date. The impression you’ll leave is: I am not douchey. This was an equal gender opportunity note, BTW.

Meridian Pint

From Basement Bars of the District: There’s something wonderfully egalitarian about the Pint, and their offerings to the community. While you can tuck into a $22 duck breast entrée, you can also play pool for free, while drinking a $4 Narragansett.

The Pug

From The Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2013: The only dive bar on H Street that’s a real dive bar but not scary or super expensive. There’s a good view of H in one booth and that’s about it for perks. The bartenders are nice, the owners are nice and the clientele is nice. The Pug is nice.

The Raven Grill

From The Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2013: A dark, old, cash only space that’s able to feel unlike any other bar in DC, which is a very good thing. If you don’t like the person you’re with, you’re out of luck. Raven is one of those old timey bars that doesn’t feature a TV every 5 feet or loud music. At the Raven, you have to talk to the other people at The Raven. No specialty cocktails or an extensive beer list, just the basics and the company you keep.

Recessions

From Basement Bars of the District: You might think you’re at the end of a gruesome and harrowing Tarantino flick when walking through the long hallway, into the bar beneath the Red Lion Hotel. Don’t be afraid. Just keep walking. There’s beer ahead. Recessions is a bar located in the bottom-most level of a hotel at the corner of 18th and L, and it looks exactly like what you’d imagine. Still, its charm comes from the friendly staff, and the no-nonsense decor. While the K Street crowd pours into the streets after work, earbuds stuffed into their skulls, eyes stuck to a smartphone, hopping into an Uber to somewhere, anywhere else, Recessions continues to greet strangers like friends, and friends like family.

Right Proper

From The Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2015: We’ve never had a bad time sitting at the bar, drinking whatever the bartender is recommending (we’ve had good luck with the French farmhouse and porter), eating fries and complaining that the Brussels sprouts are currently out of season.

The Royal

From The Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2015: This summers 2015 addition to LeDroit Park is part coffee shop and breakfast spot and part bar and dinner destination. It’s the kind of place you want to go on a date, not hang out with douchebags. The area isn’t surrounded by douchebags so there’s no reason The Royal should be overrun with bad people anytime soon. Sit at the bar, enjoy a cocktail made from shaved ice and come back the next morning for an espresso.

The Saloon

From Best Bars Without TVs: If you need a classic bar, go to The Saloon. When we compiled our first Least Douchey Bars In D.C. feature The Saloon made the list. When I asked Facebook what bars I should in this roundup, The Saloon had the most votes. When I visited D.C. for the first time and I wanted a ‘real’ bar, I went to The Saloon. This U Street tavern features beer and wooden tables and that’s about it. It shouldn’t be there and thank god it is.

Service Bar

From Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2017: Service Bar might be difficult to squeeze into on a Saturday night and it might be loud as hell after a 9:30 Club show, but where else can I get a delicious Old Fashioned or a refreshing Mint Julep for $7 on U Street? That alone would seal the deal for me, but it’s staff at Service Bar that really solidified its position on this list. No matter how slammed they are, no matter how many $7 drinks you’re ordering, the bartenders at Service Bar make each and every drink with care. It doesn’t matter how deep in the weeds they are, you’re getting a damn good drink and that should be celebrated.

Stan’s

From Basement Bars of the District: 48 years of Stan’s has taught the District, or at least those who’ve been downstairs, that wings and shrimp should be ordered by the half-pound, and enjoyed with friends. This place is small, and every available corner is taken up with a chair, or booth, or stool, or table. It’s refined, but not exclusive in the same way as Jack Rose’s Dram & Grain. The cocktails aren’t nearly as complex as Jack Rose’s, either. There’s a lot of whiskey-ginger being poured here. This is more of a secret club, whose drinkers have more important things to discuss than what kind of shrub goes best with their gin.

Trusty’s

From The Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2015: There’s not enough love for SE, especially when it comes to good, no frills bars. Go for the greasy food (100% not making fun of this, it suits the place) and stay for the three beers on draft. Don’t like it? You don’t like no frills bars. There are a lot of frills nearly everyone else on the Hill.

Tune Inn

From The Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2012: If someone wrote a bio of The Tune Inn the words “quintessential” and “classic neighborhood” would be used. Even now, after the renovation and the lifetime achievement Rammy, it is still exactly what it set out to be when it first started: a quintessential, classic, neighborhood Capitol Hill bar. Plus, for real-the grilled cheese is among the best in town.

Union Drinkery

From Least Douchey Bars in D.C. 2017: The very definition of a no frills bar, Union Drinkery is a black box. They’ve got a rotating cocktail, beer and wine menu. They’ve got food from Small Fry and Sundevich. That’s it. If you’re looking for a low key place to grab a drink, whether you’re alone or with a friend, this is the spot. It’s the minimalist cousin of our maximalist pop-up bars. Delete your Instagram, or even better, leave your phone at home. Union Drinkery isn’t here to be social media fodder, it’s just a place to get a drink.