Bar briefs

Upscale bars at a glance
If you’re tired of the average dive bar, the more elegant martini-style bars D.C. has to offer may be a good change of pace.

There’s the bar at the Willard Hotel (1401 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.), the Round Robin Bar, a dark, wooden masculine sort of ambience where Henry Clay introduced Washington to the mint julep in the 19th century. The Round Robin also serves light meals from 3 to 11 p.m., such as burgers, chicken club sandwiches, soup and Cobb salad.

At the Mandarin Oriental hotel (1330 Maryland Ave. S.W.), romantic views of the Potomac await amid an oasis of peace and calm. The bar inside, the Empress Lounge, has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Asian gardens. Signature martinis are served in Venetian crystal, and champagnes are offered by the glass, along with sakes, cognacs and teas. During weekend nights, visitors can listen to a pianist or a jazz trio and dine on sushi, ginger-marinated shrimp or crispy spring rolls.

Another choice is DC Coast, a bright, sleek downtown bar at 1401 K St. N.W.

Topaz: dark and intriguing
You won’t find the average Hill dweller at this hidden Dupont Circle hangout.

Located at 1733 N St. N.W., this boutique hotel bar caters to a diverse clientele. Waitresses in patent-leather go-go boots serve signature cocktails. Liquid lounge, acid jazz and modern international music play throughout the night.

The bar food is just as eclectic as the atmosphere. Among the choices are shrimp and pork dumplings, portobello smoked salmon tart, seared scallops and tartare of tuna. For those with a sweet tooth, there is jasmine tea cr