Washington, D.C.


barcity guidesWashington, D.C.
time Mon - Fri 4:30p - 11:00p

Share a bar with the big time players of DC in this insulated and sexy bar, tucked downstairs at the Hay-Adams Hotel just a little more than a stone’s-throw from the White House.


BY: Andrew Williams Contributing writer

Fuse the traits incognito and playful into an establishment and what emerges is a classically cool vibe. This is the tried and true recipe from which the most memorable cocktail bars are fashioned. It’s the essence of Off the Record, the iconic subterranean drinking den, tucked away in the basement of the historic Hay-Adams hotel — only steps from the White House.

The space delivers the perfect combination of swank and elegance, punctuated by plush furnishings and wall treatments saturated in a rich red palette. Replete with caricatures of famous political personalities (inserted through artwork and more subtly, on drink coasters), there’s also an added nudge of merriment. 

And the menu drives home its reputation as a top-notch joint, with distinguished cocktail options (such as Old Fashioneds, Martinis and Manhattan’s), unique riffs (such as the Pear Martini), a deep Scotch bullpen and an upscale wine selection. It’s a staple destination for lobbyists, Washingtonians, hotel guests, sharp dressed tourists and anyone searching for an elevated speakeasy experience.

CYTIES appreciates its function as a rare social scene where D.C.’s history lives, breathes and is immortalized through art. There are few locations where you can mingle with power players, emerge from onto the street level and take in some of the country’s most prominent monuments. 

Its punchline as “the place to be seen not heard” in the District is well understood and reinforces its station as one of the city’s most fashionable and coveted locales. 

A note of caution: the drinks are on the pricier end at $16+ but well worth the cost of indulgence. We agree that cocktail culture should be accessible, but we also are suckers for an excuse to trade in a crisp tee, fitted cap, and Chucks for a dinner jacket and dress shoes and strut around in our “fancy” threads. It’s all part of the journey and a sense of adventure. Our style, like our identity, is layered, and we’re fans of embracing it all.

With that in mind, we definitely recommend saving this spot for a special occasion, to impress that certain someone, to tie a refined bow on your getaway in the nation’s capital or if the mood just strikes you. 

It’s true enough that D.C.’s scene continues to evolve — its bursting at the seams with multi-hyphenate artists, musicians, restaurateurs, and more — there’s always room to preserve and appreciate some of its more traditional features. Cheers. 


There’s rumor of a “Trumpy” Sour on the menu. We’ll let you explore that on your own

Crab cakes, steak, burgers, and more — there’s a delicious menu at your fingertips

We’re not kidding, the White House is just a couple of minutes away

Farragut North (K Street Exit) and Farragut West (Eye Street Exit) are the closest public transportation stops