Best Place to Have the Bartender Pick You a Drink

2007 14th St. NW, (202) 797-7171
Every other week, I ask a bartender to make me a drink based on an intentionally silly, weird, and off-the-wall prompt that my colleague, Shani Hilton, and I come up with for our column, Cocktail Guess. I’ve gotten used to issuing requests that sometimes make me cringe as I spit the words out: “Make me a tequila drink without any citrus” was just a bit persnickety. “I just got dumped. Can you make me a drink?” felt downright pathetic.

And so I’ve gotten used to dealing with bartenders who have absolutely zero interest in humoring a customer who is wishy-washy—or, otherwise, pretending to be clueless—in her cocktail decision-making process. There are, I’m sad to report, quite a few of those in D.C. Some bartenders are downright surly, no matter who you are or what you order. Some are cool with you—if you’re a regular. Finding a bartender that’s pleased to accommodate you and your requests, whether they’re bizarre or ambiguous, isn’t easy.

To that end, the revolving staff behind Marvin’s bar deserves a Best Of nod for consistently aiding and abetting this drinker’s moods—both my whimsical, column-driven prompts and occasional, more personal bouts of indecisiveness. That Marvin, like neighboring Hilton Bros. establishments Blackbyrd Warehouse and the Gibson, trades in craft cocktails means bartenders have plenty of ingredients to play with. Though the atmosphere trends toward modified classics (expect libations like a gin and tonic with a splash of absinthe), Marvin’s staff is more than capable of inventing something on the spot—without making patrons feel like an ass for asking them to do so.