Barrel & Bushel, hotel bars, best bars in virginia

Barrel & Bushel (Photo by Jonathan Timmes)

Jackson 20
Twenty-somethings and older Old Town residents alike frequent Jackson 20 for its specialty cocktails and casual yet upscale atmosphere. It’s perfect for date night or that midafternoon business meeting. Drink creations like Papa Hemingway, with Appleton Estate VX Rum, grapefruit, lime and luxardo maraschino, are prime examples of this bar’s theme of classic cocktails with a twist. Consider pairing drinks with an order of Jackson 20’s Southern-inspired appetizers like the crispy fried green tomatoes and barbecue pulled pork sandwich. / 480 King St., Alexandria  

Barrel & Bushel
Barrel & Bushel finally gave Tysons what it sorely lacked: a bar that’s open late. Beer and bourbon are the mainstays of this menu. Patrons can sit indoors at the bar alongside the after-work crowd chatting on cellphones and watch bartenders work their magic or enjoy their goods alfresco—this spot has garage door windows that open up when the weather’s nice. The air buzzes with conversation, but customers can still hear the person they came with. / 7901 Tysons One Place, Tysons  

America Eats Tavern
Nestled deep in The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner, America Eats Tavern’s menu has historical roots, but the space feels very modern. Expect a mostly white interior and a sleek metal bar with 12 seats. But history is not forgotten here: Couch pillows are decked out with faces of Lincoln and Washington. The raw bar features oysters and crab legs that you can pair with classic cocktails like the Moscow Mule. The food menu features Southern dishes like hush puppies. / 1700 Tysons Blvd., Tysons

Tavern 64, best bars in virginia, hotel bars
Tavern 64 (Photo by Aaron Spicer)

Tavern 64
The after-work crowd and locals gather at this hotel bar in Reston Town Center that focuses on classic, historical American fare and drinks. The bar is a warm, light-filled space complete with lantern lights on the wood-paneled columns that surround the bar. The staff here is talkative and very knowledgeable. Consider asking for a classic cocktail like an Old Fashioned or Antebellum Mint Julep. The food is hearty, like duck served with fries and gravy. / 1800 Presidents St., Reston

Bartenders Tell Us What Makes a Good Bar?

Todd Thrasher @ PX and Restaurant Eve
“Everyone forgets that you have to be able to make people feel comfortable. You have to make people feel welcome when they come into your bar. For me, I can go to a bar, and if I have the best cocktail, the best glass of wine, best food but the bartender is not into being behind the bar, I’m probably never going to go back. Being a bartender is a labor of love. You have to love being able to talk to people, love multitasking. People have gotten all confused with this whole mixology craze. People think you go to the bar to get a good cocktail. That’s not the bar business. That’s the mixology business. If I order a Manhattan, I would like you to know how to make it. People forget how important it is to be nice. I have a saying … ‘I can train you how to mix a cocktail, if you’re willing. I can train you how to walk and talk behind the bar and how to mix a drink, but I can’t train you to be nice.’ That was your parents’ job … Because of this whole mixology craze, people take it so seriously. It’s just bartending. It’s about making people forget where they are for the hour or two they’re with you.”

(October 2015)