Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Where to Drink On a First Date

*This edition of "Where to Drink On a First Date" focuses on Northwest D.C.  Don't worry, we'll feature other spots in future editions!

I’ve been dating online for a long time- longer than I’d like to admit- and in doing so, I’ve done some really stupid shit.  Ladies and gents, please learn from my mistakes.

Number one lesson learned: When meeting or arranging a rendezvous with a blind date or online suitor, do not agree to or suggest an activity that comes with a big time commitment.   

When that cute, funny guy from Match suggests you go to Great Falls for a hike, make up an excuse about why you can’t and suggest drinks instead.  When you meet in person and discover that he’s cross-eyed and unable to carry on a conversation, what would you rather do- toss back a quick vodka tonic and split, or go on an awkward two hour hike that possibly ends with you being murdered in the woods?    

Even if you’re sure you’ll hit it off, keep your options open by suggesting coffee or drinks; you can easily extend the date if you want to, and make a quick getaway if you don’t.   

Need some help picking a place?  Here are my top five go-to spots for first date drinks.

Chef Geoff’s   1301 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

The good: Centrally located, good atmosphere and crowd, unbeatable happy hour specials. 
The bad: Food is just so-so.   

Poste   555 8th Street NW

The good: Beautiful courtyard when the weather is nice, swanky but cozy bar when it’s not. 
The bad: Drinks are pricey.        

Kramers   1517 Connecticut Avenue NW

The good: Laid back vibe, interesting people, cozy dining area.    
The bad: The bar itself is unimpressive- grab a table in the main section instead.   

Tryst   2459 18th Street NW

The good: Great atmosphere, diverse crowd, good food and drink options, good for transitioning into a longer date.    
The bad: Can be hard to get a seat.  

ChurchKey    1337 14th Street NW

The good: Festive vibe, great beer, hip neighborhood. 
The bad:  Gets noisy at times.    

Have any other suggestions for great places to drink on a first date in D.C.?  Call ‘em out below!


  1. Also in NW:
    Solly's (patio, cheap PBRs, live music on random nights, good casual local crowd)
    American Ice Co (awesome patio, great beer selection, decent wine selection, great BBQ, mason jars)
    DC9 rooftop (again: outdoors, good beer, good crowd)

    I generally avoid first dates where they only serve $15 cocktails (or $11 beers) and everyone acts like a douchebag around you. (Cough, most of Dupont area, cough.) Plus, with the falling temps to the 70s, drinking outdoors will still be quite comfortable for some time to come.

    (Plus, drinking off the U St corridor lends itself to a longer date if things go well - want to catch some music? Run over to 9:30 or DC9 or Black Cat or Velvet Lounge. Dancing? U St Music Hall or Patty Boom Booms. Continue drinking? Pretty much hundreds of options.)

  2. Awesome suggestions- thanks for sharing!

  3. Ooh, good recs. I knew about all of them except Chef Geoff's, but I never go to most. Thanks for the info!

  4. The Gibson! Expensive and usually a good idea to make a reservation, but delicious cocktails and seriously sexy atmosphere.

  5. Gibson is my #1 choice....always. I'm lucky enough that most of my first dates over the last couple of years have taken the hint and picked the spot for our first meet and greet.

    Bar Pilar on a weeknight has a wonderful atmosphere...kind of dark and quiet. Bourbon in Glover Park during the week is also a good choice.

    I did have post-dinner drinks last night at The Raven, which was strangely perfect. No one looked twice at the "old" couple smooching at the bar, which is a win win in my book!

  6. 1. Bar Pilar. On weeknights, generally quiet, warm atmosphere, good drink selections.

    2. Cork. Extensive wine selection. Good food.

    3. Vinoteca. Great happy hour, nice patio in the back.

    4. Room 11. Good drink selection, great food, quiet.

    5. Dickson Wine Bar. Bit pricey and not my favorite, but it is nice when you can grab a seat by the big windows overlooking U St.

    6. Black Squirrel. Ok, not romantic whatsoever but totally chill and has a great beer selection.

    7. Bourbon (there is also one in Adams Morgan).

    Have to agree with Kramers, but disagree with Churchkey and Tryst (for the reasons you gave). Churchkey always seems to be loud and finding a seat at Tryst can be a pain in the ass.

    Also have to agree with the first commenter on DC9 (at least when it is good rooftop weather). Sollys kinda blows though. Divey yet the prices don't match. Does have a patio at least. Think s/he is hyping American Ice Company a bit too much too. Nice venue, but loud and the crowd can be douchy at times.

  7. I went to H Street Country Club recently for a second date. It was a great pick (and would have been great for a first date, too). There is mini golf and shuffle board and other games to play. Makes for a really fun time, instead of just sitting across from each other at a table.

  8. Sticking to NW, I'm going to agree with The Gibson, Bar Pilar, Vinoteca, Room 11, Poste, Tryst & the DC9 roof deck. I'll add the Jack Rose roof deck on weeknights or early on the weekend, Zola for late happy hour is perfect because it's very chill and you get happy hour specials later in the evening, and The Saloon on U street is great because of their no standing policy, no TVs, no cell phones at the bar - it creates an atmosphere where you can actually talk to another person & get to know them.

  9. So many good suggestions- thanks everyone!