By Jackie Kucinich - 06/30/05 12:00 AM EDT
Cloistered in the marble hallways of the House and Senate office buildings, there are two things that many Hill staffers want when they leave their desks for the day: liquid refreshment and fresh air.
While the street-level patios of many local establishments can provide the desired atmosphere, rooftop bars that dot the city offer a unique perspective as well as a good cocktail.
The stairs leading up to the large, wooden patio at Perry’s in Adams Morgan are steep, but the calm ambiance is worth the precarious climb. Overlooking the uneven roofs of Adams Morgan, the patio is crowned with white, twinkling lights. Ivy and pansies climb the sides of the trellis behind the dark wooden booths and white-clothed tables, where well-dressed yuppie couples sip martinis and sake.
The bar itself is situated under an awning and provides plenty of room and seating for an open atmosphere of good conversation over a cool glass of white wine or delectable sushi.
Down the street, a patron of The Reef can see the top of the Capitol from its terra-cotta roof. The bartenders are friendly and seem to have taken detailed notes from the movie “Cocktail” (complete with pooka-shell necklaces and flowered shirts), but unfortunately neither looked like Tom Cruise.
Tan tarps flutter in the summer breeze above hipsters in their late 20s and early 30s drinking beer that is $1 off the original price during happy hour. The music is slightly off-putting — a strange combination of Motown and swing music that doesn’t really fit the d�cor — but, judging by the rate at which the bar became full, no one seemed to mind.
The Sky Terrace at the Hotel Washington is the perfect setting for a low-key afternoon rendezvous with out-of-town guests or those who don’t enjoy the bar scene. The bar provides a spectacular view of the monuments and the Mall, and on a clear day you can see Arlington.
Tropical drinks, such as a passion-fruit martini or a banana daiquiri, are perfect for the humid weather, while the faux-bronze and green-upholstered chairs are so comfortable that you might want to order more than one drink. Babies and children are in abundance in the afternoon, so do not be surprised if a stroller is parked next to you.
At Local 16, iron lanterns and orange lampshades softly light the roof bar. Large palm trees shield the hip, trendy crowd from the traffic on 16th Street. Early in the evening, men in suits and women in business attire occupy most of the tan bar stools. Tables draped in white tablecloths line the wall opposite the long, polished bar.
However, later in the evening, the bar quickly fills with attractive young singles trading numbers and business cards. Benches and chairs in the corners of the far side of the bar provide a secluded spot for more private discussions. Drinks are slightly pricey, but no more so than bars in nearby Adams Morgan.
Marty’s on Capitol Hill provides a casual setting for a drink or watching the Nationals. The narrow roof is lined in Astroturf carpet, and ferns hang from the top of the awning, sheltering the bar and several high wooden tables. Softball teams and Barracks Row locals gather around other tables, which could be pushed together to fit more people. As with many local bars in Washington, the beer is better than the cocktails.
Although it is slightly off the beaten path for most Hill dwellers, Duke City, located on U Street, is an urban and ethnic alternative to the pearls-and-blazer crowd. The pseudo-Victorian chaises and large potted plants are contrasted by the large graffiti tag on one of the walls, and the selection at outside bar is limited. Luckily, the inside bar is just a few feet away. While the inside bar is hot with hip-hop music and crowded, venture outdoors and the atmosphere is perfect for catching up on the latest gossip with friends.
Even tourists can feel as if they are at their neighborhood bar at Bricks in Cleveland Park. Dual TVs over the bar show the sports event of the season. However, a reveler hoping to meet someone special would not have much luck here, since patrons seem to have little interest in socializing with anyone but the people they arrived with, unless to comment on the game. Keep the drink orders simple; martinis are not quite right, but the beer is nice and cold.
Kari Lundgren contributed to this article.