Best Places to Host a Happy Hour in D.C.
Washington, D.C. is flooded with business professionals, government officials, and students that keep the city lively almost every night of the week. Believe it or not, there are twenty colleges and universities in Washington, D.C., including five research universities, four master’s universities, and ten special-focus institutions. This city is packed with young up-and-comers, entrepreneurs, and soon-to-be-elected officials who make it a priority to network and socialize!
This year, it is my responsibility to throw events on behalf of the Women in Business organization at my university. This includes happy hours, mixers, and even a formal event in the spring. Since I take my event planning duties very seriously, I quickly assembled a list of possible venues to visit for all our various social events. Since then, I have visited many places and can recommend several venues for your D.C. informal gatherings. Whether you are trying to plan a ‘Wine Wednesday’, ‘Thirsty Thursday’, or a weekly happy hour, take a look at my list before planning your next event!
Disclaimer: This is only a short list of recommendations. I’d be happy to share additional locations I would recommend.
#1 Bar Deco
Location: 171 6th St NW (Chinatown) website
Bar Deco is great for an event that calls for business casual attire. It’s not upscale or stuffy, instead it’s well designed, modern, and trendy. It offers a variety of spaces on each level of the restaurant/bar that will suit your event depending on the size of your party.
The bulletin bar, the long bar, and the rooftop are available for private events. The rooftop is amazing if you have room in the budget to splurge. If you are hosting an event of less than 50 people, Bar Deco is happy to accommodate a gathering space free of charge. Most importantly, they have a robust happy hour menu composed of fun drinks like rose spritz and custom party platters you can arrange beforehand.
#2 Dirty Habit
Location: 555 8th St NW (Penn Quarter) website
Dirty Habit can host anything from a rehearsal dinner, bridal shower, baby shower, meeting, or corporate event in its stylish interior spaces or open-air private patios. This is going to be less budget friendly compared to other places on this list, but worth the mention since it is one of my favorite bars to grab a cocktail.
The bar is usually not too crowded during the week and offers happy hour from 4pm-7pm. Some of my favorite appetizers are the crispy chicken spring rolls, assorted cheese board, pulled pork sliders, and truffle fries. The outdoor patio is really nice during the spring and fall and it offers a couple seasonal appetizers from the patio food cart like the Korean short rib and teriyaki chicken.
Location: 1606 20th St NW (Dupont) website
Mission is the go-to spot for student organizations. Mission is a well-known Mexican restaurant in the heart of Dupont Circle. Every time I have been to Mission, there has always been a private event held on the upper level with graduate students mixing and mingling over margaritas and chips and salsa!
Mission has multiple event spaces including two floors, two large bar areas, three dining rooms, and a spacious patio. For larger events, you can buy out the entire restaurant. The atmosphere is very laid back and casual, and their staff is easy to coordinate with. If you are new to planning events, this is a good place to try.
#4 Colada Shop
Location: 1405 T St NW (U Corridor) website
Coffee by day and cocktails by night, Colada Shop is best for smaller and more intimate gatherings and private events. If you want to impress your colleagues with a unique hole-in-the-wall feel, I highly suggest taking them to Colada Shop.
This hip little gem is always creating a new seasonal menu with vibrant flavors in respect to authentic Cuban cuisine. Some seasonal items available now are empanadas made with butternut squash and sofrito cheese, and a sweet plantain spice cafe con leche-- talk about fall in a cup! They also have traditional Cuban items on the menu like the Colada Shop Cuban sandwich, plantain chips, and churros. The rooftop bar is a common feature of many of my favorite venues.
Location: 1926 14th Street St NW (U Corridor) website
Tico commonly hosts organized happy hours and can accommodate groups of 25-50 people for semi-private events. It has two bars available to reserve-- the Ceviche Bar and main bar in front of the high tops and open area that is perfect to mix and mingle.
The atmosphere is lively, with a colorful interior and upbeat music. For events that are not prepaid, guests can easily pay as they go and order tasty bites from the tapas menu. Like most DC restaurants, Tico has happy hour specials every Monday through Friday.
Location: 1811 Columbia Rd NW (Adams Morgan) website
Perry’s has a rooftop area overlooking the main street of Adams Morgan. This part of town is very charming, with historic architecture and bohemian storefronts. Perry’s will accommodate a group of up to 20 guests on the rooftop unless you pay to reserve the entire space.
Perry’s serves Japanese food and fresh sushi. From 5:30pm-7:30pm, they have a happy hour menu with creative cocktails infused with seasonal flavors. The only downside about the roof is the route you must walk to access it. Let me warn you, there are several flights of steep steps and random hallways before you reach the top. Regardless, this spot is popular amongst the locals and definitely worth a mention.
#7 Flight Wine Bar
Location: 777 6th ST NW (Chinatown) website
Flight Wine Bar is a great option for smaller intimate gatherings. While it does host private events or holiday parties for guest of 12 or more, I suggest it for hosting a get-together of 5-10 coworkers. The interior design is dimly lit and modernly designed.
Flight Wine Bar does not serve liquor cocktails, so make sure you are hosting wine lovers! On Monday nights, they have an all-night happy hour with $12 wine flights, $5 Draft beers, and reduced prices on wines by the glass. Tuesday- Friday features the same offer from 5pm-6:30pm.
Location: 1336 U Street NW (U Corridor) website
Hawthorne is a well-known spot located in the heart of 14th Street. If you want to throw a real party, Hawthorne is your spot. I am helping coordinate a Halloween bash at Hawthorne and couldn’t be more excited.
The space has four floors and can host events of all sizes. On the first floor, Hawthorne has its most private and luxurious space with a private bar and custom leather seating. The second floor has a large bar, private bathrooms, and a seated area for brunch, drinks, or dinner. On the third floor, Hawthorne has another bar and a space for a DJ booth and dancing. However, my favorite area is naturally the rooftop bar with incredible views of the city. To ensure your event is perfect, Hawthorne makes an effort to customize food and drink menus for every type of gathering and budget. There is never a fee to rent the space but they may require a minimum revenue to reserve a private area.