The Best of Washington, DC

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Nightclub 9:30 (202-393-0930; 815 V St., N.W., Washington). If you are a fan of live, loud music in a place with no chairs and a profusions of bars, then this place is destined to become the one venue to which you compare all others. Consistently rated as one of the best nightclubs in the country, among musicians the 9:30 holds near-iconic status. Why? How about a wraparound second-floor balcony, a basement-level bar, and a sound system so pure it makes your iPod headset sound like two cans tied together with a taut piece of string? This world-class venue is graced by artists whose styles range from hip-hop to D.C.’s own go-go, indie pop to alt-country, electronica to international lounge, roots music to funk.

Russia House (202-234-9433; 1800 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Washington). To experience the international personality of D.C. at its best, travel north of Dupont Circle, climb the stone stairs at Connecticut and Florida Avenues, and slip into the sumptuous glories of this intimate lounge. The Old World decor; the perpetually buzzing vibe; and an unpredictable mixture of Russian ex-pats, locals, and diplomats tossing back shots of vodka like medicine might make you think you’ve stepped into D.C.’s version of Cold War Moscow.

PX (703-299-8384; 728 King St., Alexandria). The logistics of this Old Town Alexandria watering hole are a little pretentious (no sign, just a small blue light and a pirate flag flown by its downstairs neighbor, Eamonn’s restaurant; you buzz to gain access; and a list of "rules" are posted in the stairway, including a request for respectable dress). But if you can snag one of the 30 or so seats at this 21st-century speakeasy, the little hassles will not detract from the overall charm. The intimate interior creates an inviting, turn-of-the-century feel, but it’s the seasonal drinks that demand repeated visits. Each and every ingredient here (save the liquor itself) has been handcrafted in house, from the bitters to the soda water and cola to the kumquats fermented in liquor for more than a year. The cocktails themselves look almost too good to drink—and they taste even better.

Nathan Borchelt is the lead editor for

Published: 29 Jul 2008 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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