Here, you can try cocktails that are black as night or sweet as honey — and maybe the bartender will whip up something just for you.
D.C. has plenty of wine bars, breweries and cocktail bars, but its gin bars are few and far between. Fortunately, the gin bars we do have are seriously fabulous. One standout is The Wells, adjacent to Italian restaurant La Collina, both of which are owned by restaurateur Hollis Wells Silverman of Eastern Point Collective. Helmed by lead bartender Alessandro Pisi, The Wells is elegant and modern, fun and sophisticated, and all about gin. Opened in 2021, it has a speakeasy vibe — and it’s a place you want to see and be seen.
You can enter The Wells via its C Street Northeast entrance, but also through La Collina if visiting the bar after or before dinner. You will find yourself in a gorgeous setting, with stools along the black marble bar and a décor comprised of bold jewel tones, velvet couches, golden light fixtures and curated artwork. To complete the scene, the bar features an impressive lit-up wall hosting various fancy bottles of gins from around the world.
Guests are treated to a complimentary gin cocktail of the day served in a charming mini coupe. Recently, the cocktail of the day was a tiny gin coffee martini, which was dark, smooth and complete with a frothy cap. The bar hosts a gin list with an endless litany of gins to sample, as well as their signature menu including a series of gin cocktails, some of which are rotated periodically and others remain on the menu permanently. Wine and beer are also available for those who don’t love gin, and there are snacks to nibble on while enjoying the cocktails. The Wells also sometimes has cocktail specials depending on the season or certain local events that inspire the team to concoct something unique, such as the Cherry Blossom Festival.
The current gin cocktails on their signature menu are wildly creative and delicious. The drinks range from boozy to refreshing to whimsical, and some of them are all three at once. But if nothing strikes your fancy, the bartenders will create something from scratch. The team behind the bar is dapper, gregarious and incredibly knowledgeable about their craft. Just let them know your flavor preferences — whether it be smoky, fruity, sweet, herbaceous or tart — and they will either recommend a drink on their menu or whip up something to your liking.
One of our favorites on the menu is their martini, simply called The Martini. It is one of the more gin-forward options on the menu, with a silky, olive-oil infused gin blended with vermouth and finished with fresh orange oils expressed on the top of the glass. It has a fruity element from the olive oil and orange, which allows the citrusy flavor of the gin to really shine through.
For a visually beautiful beverage, try the Red Passion, where gin is combined with fresh blood orange juice, lime, bitter Campari and vanilla. It is slightly sweet and has a memorable fiery hue. The Baleal is great for someone who wants something on the sweeter side, with passionfruit liquor, grapefruit liquor, honey and lime. It is both fragrant and citrusy.
If you are in search of something truly exceptional, try the Paris by Night. This remarkable beverage has activated charcoal in it, which is known for its health benefits; it can remove toxins from the body when consumed. When added to liquors like gin, it turns the liquid black, which gives a crazy visual effect to the drink. The Paris by Night is indeed black from the activated charcoal, has a splash of cava in it for a bubbly note and is adorned with gold leaf, making the drink one of the most stunning bar creations you will ever sample.
Another great win on the current menu is the Sakura by the Kyoto River, which is a mixture of gin, edible glitter, hibiscus and a house-made grapefruit cordial. The beverage has a cheerful energy and is very easy to imbibe.
Reservations are required at The Wells. This is one cocktail experience that you don’t want to miss.
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