Fall is trying very hard to make an appearance and even though we are still getting some more heat here and there, as of September 23rd, we officially passed over the fall threshold. From here on out, be prepared for wooly sweaters, a plague of cold feet, the holidays, early evenings, settling in like food-hoarding chipmunks and warming oneself from within.
Next time the cool wind nips at your collar, consider visiting one of these bars and cafes for a warming spirit or a hot coffee:
Mockingbird Hill Wine Bar: “Drink more sherry. Eat more ham.” These are the words by which wine bar, and daytime coffee bar, Mockingbird Hill operates. I can abide by that. The bar serves 90 types of Spanish wines, tapas (like chorizo with bread, raisins and poached egg) and a menu of adventurous cocktails, like Fino Garlic-Back (Fino Sherry with a side of pickled garlic juice) and The Tomatador (Fino Sherry, Siembra Azul Blanco Tequila, tomato water and thyme). During the winter months, they’ve been known to warm things up with the PX Buttered Rum, made with rum, sherry, spices, butter and hot water; and the Wassail, a traditional mulled cider.
Church & State Cocktail Bar: “This is not a Church. D.C is not a State. But every bottle, whether heavenly or devilish, comes from the United States, its territories or possessions. We invite you to be free and brave.” Rah rah rah. At Church & State, you’ve got your Collins, your Rickey, your Mint Julep and plenty of martinis. You can also get a nice hot chocolate, laced with Bird Dog hot cinnamon whiskey, Dark Corners butterscotch moonshine, Old Bardstown whiskey and Praline liqueur, or a peach and cinnamon-infused Buffalo Trace and Bloomery Sweet Shine peach moonshine. Hot toddies come spiked with either whiskey or gin.
The Gibson: Dark, moody and chock full of delicious booze. I usually don’t drink much liquor, but for The Gibson I make an exception and drink lots. Order from a menu of smooth, perfectly balanced, knock-you-out concoctions with ingredients like egg whites, absinthe, and green chartreuse. Or tell the bartender what flavor profiles tickle your fancy and let them surprise you. Either way, you won’t be feeling the chill of fall when you leave.
Room 11: Watch for a rotating cocktail menu at this cozy bar and restaurant in Columbia Heights. Though the food is a bit pricey, it’s tasty—and you’ll probably need something in your belly before you have a Rite of Spring (gin, chamomile honey, lemon and lavender bitters), a Biz Marquee (rye, aperol, sage, lemon and sea salt tincture), or the B-Word (El Dorado 8 Year Rum, Becherovka, maraschino, housemade falernum and lime). Sit inside at one of Room 11’s small, European tables, or outside near the fire pit.
Filter: Located just north of Dupont Cirlce, tucked away on 20th Street, this place has delicious, strong coffee—everything from single, hand-poured cups to cappuccinos and flat whites (not easily found in DC). They’ve also got a location on I Street in Foggy Bottom.
Tryst: An old standby that still delivers with their lattes, Tryst is furnished with couches and random vintage chairs that are always packed with locals. They’ve also got cappuccinos, a delicious Mexican hot chocolate, Masala Chai and Mulled apple cider.
Peregrine: To my mind, Peregrine ushered in the specialty coffee movement in DC. They opened on Capitol Hill in 2008 and now have three locations, including one at Union Market. You will never, ever get a bad coffee here—I would know, I’ve had hundreds. Their coffee is smooth, creamy and never bitter. On the menu is everything from a double shot of espresso to a triple shot latte.
Blind Dog Café: Blind Dog by day, Darnell’s Bar by night. They’ve got all your regular espresso drinks like latte, cappuccino and macchiato, as well as chai, mocha, hazelnut latte and vanilla latte. The food is worthwhile too. Try the breakfast sandwich of chorizo and cheese or bacon and goat cheese, both served on croissant with an egg frittata, each for just $5.
Big Bear: Hipster paradise in Bloomingdale! Sounds kind of hellish. But the seasonal food menu is delicious, the coffee is wonderful and the atmosphere is chill.
Baked and Wired: I have heard so many things about this place (all good), but have never been. Probably because it is sequestered in Georgetown. Both its coffee and baked goods look delicious. Coffee and espresso comes from roasters including Stumptown, Intelligentsia, Ceremony, and Sightglass; and the milk is sourced from Kreider Farms (Lancaster County, PA). Baked goods include a litany of breakfast breads, cookies, cake cups, biscotti, brownies, pies, muffins and more.