Remember when you were a kid and hated sharing? Well when it comes to drinks, it's way more fun when they're shared. So grab a partner in crime and get bowled over at these area bars serving up super-sized sips in pitchers, porróns and even French presses.
Love bivalves? Grab a chilled dozen and wash them down with pitcher cocktails at Derek Brown's oyster bar in Shaw. Drink the Martini (most popular) stirs local Green Hat Gin with Dolin Blanc Vermouth and orange bitters; My Mount Pleasant mingles Tequila with grapefruit-ginger cordial, lime and soda. "It's fun to get the same drink and finish a pitcher or bowl. It creates camaraderie,"says Brown. "When punches were popular in the eighteenth century purportedly you couldn't leave the table until the punch bowl was done. I think that's the appeal, having a drink together." $38/pitcher, 4-5 servings
The Community Cocktails section of the drinks menu at this American restaurant in Clifton offers up seasonally-rotating punch bowls pleasantly sippable in the sunny dining room or on the back patio. Strawberry Field mixes vodka with strawberries, fennel and burnt absinthe, while exotic tiki tipple Scorpion uses Tequila, passion fruit, star anise and lemongrass. "People like to share things,"notes co-owner Stefan Trummer. "It always is more fun when you just put a big platter of food, or a big cocktail bowl, in the middle of the table for everyone to share." $85-$125 for a small bowl (10-15 servings), $135-$195 for a large bowl (20-30 servings)
At the U Street Latin American hot spot, it's super fun to watch your friends drink from a Spanish porrón, the traditional Spanish glass wine pitcher--and equally so honing the technique yourself. Have one filled with chilled Cava or one of the traditional cocktails like Vino, which mixes floral white wine Torrontes with bitter lemon soda and orange bitters, or a lager-based Shandy with grapefruit soda and orange bitters. "It's pretty cool to watch a guest who knows how to drink out of a porrón,"admits bartender Christine Kim. "Others we have to teach, but it really amps up the energy when friends are trying to master the porrón." $14-$28
A French press does a heck of a job extracting flavor from ground coffee beans; bartenders Chad Spangler and Glendon Hartley use the same approach for their cocktails at this U Street small plates den. "The inspiration was to offer guests the ability to indulge in a highly drinkable and delicious cocktail that they can interact with at their tables,"says Spangler. Drinks rotate -- like the Grapefruit Press, with vodka, grapefruit, mint and basil, and brunch libations like a Lavender Basil Mimosa, left tableside for you to infuse a lot or a little flavor, depending on how heavy-handed you are with the plunger. $18 for bottomless brunch press Mimosas, $38 for regular press cocktails (5 servings)
Punches available year-round fit in with the U Street gastropub's laid-back conviviality, says head bartender Ken Curry. The Punch section of the cocktail menu has four offerings that can be ordered by the glass, in a four-portion sauce boat, or in a thirty-serving bowl, like tropical and tart Punch Bahia with cachaça, white rum, guava, passion fruit and guarana sod; or heady Cara Cara Whiskey Punch with Irish whiskey with cara cara oranges and hibiscus. "Punches are laid back, fun and bring out a festive, party atmosphere,"Curry says. "There is no pretense in them - it falls in line with the 'wear what you want, relax, take your time' kind of approach to life." $9/serving, can be scaled for large groups