Best Bar

Dram & Grain
2007 18th St NW, (202) 607-1572

This petit basement bar in the belly of Jack Rose Dining Saloon opened in 2014 when the speakeasy drum was beating harder than the “In the Air Tonight” solo. To make reservations you had to text a burner phone, and to access it, you had to practically walk through the Jack Rose kitchen.

That’s still true, but any notion that you’re partaking in a gimmick subsides once the drinks start flowing. Bar bosses Trevor Frye and Nick Lowe kicked things off, but Dram & Grain is now in the capable hands of Benny Hurwitz, Andy Bixby, and Morgan Kirchner.

The latest iteration of the menu creatively showcases drinks from five stand-out cocktail cities: Tokyo, London, Havana, New Orleans, and San Francisco. The “Hai Baller,” for example, tips its hat to Tokyo with mizu shochu, Suntory Whisky Toki, Fuji apple soda, and a burdock chip ($14), while “Gnome for the Holidays” celebrates London with Absolut Elyx Vodka, housemade cacao liqueur, Becherovka, mint gomme syrup, and lemon ($15).

The “Gnome for the Holidays” comes in a gold-gilded gnome that will make other patrons immediately jealous. It’s one example of how the Dram & Grain team goes to great lengths to present drinks in memorable ways.

Finally, if you’re more of a spirits nerd, don’t skip ordering nips of booze from the bar’s vintage collection that dates as far back as the 1880s.

As Dram & Grain evolved, it became a little more accessible. Wednesdays and Thursdays are open to the public sans reservations starting at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays remain for reservations-only, which are offered in 2.5-hour seatings beginning at 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. There’s a two-drink minimum for reservations, which can be made by texting (202) 607-1572.