Among the apartment-bound, neighborhood bars function as a kind of communal living room. This time of year, they also serve as a shared backyard of sorts—the kind of backyard where you might light a bonfire and ladle out mugfuls of grog. Better yet, at these outdoor winter bars, no one’s going to call the cops on you when things go late!
True, the synthetic ice rink on the hotel’s rooftop has gotten most of the buzz, but we like the seasonal igloos down on the ground floor patio.
What you’re sipping: Bourbon. Either a la carte from The Next Whiskey Bar’s library-like collection, or pre-selected flights. While you’re at it, grab a burger and a cigar to pair.
Comfort factor: High. The see-through domes are heated, with plenty of faux fur to go around.
More people tried to get into Whaley’s Rosé Garden this summer than the Nats’ playoff games. But the waterfront hot spot isn’t giving up for the winter, as they’ve traded their umbrellas for fire pits.
What you’re sipping: A hot rum cocktail with ginger and pomegranate, served in a camping thermos for four people to share.
Comfort factor: Medium. You can grab a blanket, but you’re still taking your chances with the wind coming off the Anacostia. If things get really desperate, you can always head inside and order something from their new rum cart.
The Four Seasons’ temple to red meat and whiskey has four—count ‘em, four—patios where you can sip and smoke all winter.
What you’re sipping: You can’t go wrong with the Upside Down, served hot with 24-year-old rum, pineapple, lime and chai tea.
Comfort factor: Mixed. You’ll find fire pits almost everywhere, but if it’s cold enough, head for the covered patio between the hotel and George’s Salon. If that doesn’t do the trick, feel free to put some fire between your lips. The restaurant now has its own certified cigar sommelier, who’s happy to pair a smoke with anything you happen to be drinking.
The patio at this 14th Street stalwart never slows down, even in the dead of winter.
What you’re sipping: Bottles of Spanish wine. The redder the better.
Comfort factor: High. In addition to blankets and heat lamps, you can stake out a spot around the outdoor hearth.
This new kid on the Blagden Alley block, from the team behind the Fainting Goat, is basically a garden party no matter the season.
What you’re sipping: This time of year, you may want to forego one of their adult juice boxes for a hot drink served out of a crock pot.
Comfort factor: High. In addition to the heat lamps and blankets (almost a given at this point) they’ll bring you mugs of hot soup. If you forget your gloves, your hands will be most grateful.
This Columbia Heights trailblazer is as good as ever, with clever takes on comfort food like mushroom risotto and grilled cheese.
What you’re sipping: A glass of restoring wine, like port or madeira, is never a bad idea here, but this time of year, they’re usually pouring mugs of glog as well.
Comfort factor: Low. A solitary fire pit, and a couple of heat lamps won’t necessarily steel you from the chill, so throw on an extra layer.
Inside, the roaring fire makes this Dupont Circle spot one of the city’s most romantic. But the outside scene isn’t too shabby for winter romance, either.
What you’re sipping: Hearty cocktails, made with all manner of vermouths, amari and herbal liqueurs.
Comfort factor: Medium. The wisteria-covered patio is dotted with firepits and heat lamps. And you’re covered with a blanket.