One of my favorite bars is Room 11, a small spot on the 11th Street “hip strip” in Columbia Heights. The cozy (hence “Room”) and unpretentious place is great for cocktails, inexpensive but tasty wines, and delicious small plates.
With a food and drink menu that rotates a lot, I’d recommend you check out the chalkboards around the room. Co-owned by Dan Searing, a cocktail wiz who has written books about alcoholic punch, the place strives for good, interesting drinks and wine. The staff makes their own nocino, an Italian nut liqueur, for example, plus a lot of the other ingredients.
While they have a lot of traditional cocktails (I’m a big fan of the burnt sugar Old Fashioned) they also have a lot things you probably haven’t heard of and they’re happy to explain them.
The food is good too: there are some East Asian influences but the menu varies: if they have the shrimp risotto, get it! The charcuterie plates are always a good bet, too, and they also serve breakfast, fancy pastries and lunch during the week plus brunch on Sundays.
The small space makes it good for intimate conversations and they have a nice patio too for warm evenings. The only drawback to the spot is that it can be a little pricey.