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At The Bar: Halfsmoke

It’s becoming more and more standard that some of the best restaurants in Washington also become the best spots to simply grab a drink. While good food is an added bonus, and often we give in to temptation, we are elated by restaurants’ willingness to allow people to just come hang and order a round—or rounds—of drinks. One particular restaurant that’s been competing with its bar-centric peers is an excellent brunch spot, Halfsmoke in the Shaw area.

The Movers and Shakers
Halfsmoke is run by a couple of D.C. natives who have watched the city’s evolving restaurant scene over time. They know a thing or two about the importance of a great bar atmosphere, ample space for lingering post meal, and truly authentic Southern fare. Mostly known for their sausages, Halfsmoke has made it their mission to deliver creative cocktails that incentivize their patrons to chill-out and stay a while.

The Vibe
Halfsmoke’s vibe is nothing shy of playful and fun. It’s the epitome of an adult playground. With photo booths, board games, neon signs, and swinging chairs, this spot’s theme is to never grow up. After a few drinks, we usually have no problem forgetting about our adult priorities, but Halfsmoke’s experience brings us back to all that was innocent and fun about hanging out with our best friends over the weekends.

There’s something extremely exciting about leaving the office and entering a world where it’s socially acceptable to drink while also craving a round of Uno.This Shaw establishment is the perfect spot for gossip, games, and some grand cocktails.

Is this seat taken?
We had a bunch of cool seating to choose from at Halfsmoke. While we were intrigued by the swinging chairs, some more suitable seating for beverage consumption was  available throughout. Comfy chairs surrounded the foosball table in the back, quilted couches faced the bar, and normal, but playfully designed, seating and tables filled in the gaps between.

Bar seating is also available and comfortable, so even on the most booked weekend nights you should be able to grab a spot. I arrived with my brother, and we snagged a seat by the window and a stack of game boxes. Not only were we happy with our own opportunity to partake in adolescent shenanigans, but we also enjoyed seeing the smiling faces of people playing monopoly and catching up with friends.


The Libations
One thing the Bitches have learned throughout our cocktail endeavors is that the cocktail on tap is always a good idea. It’s usually perfectly mixed and balanced between alcohol and sweetness.

We used our winter edition of the Passport Program to get 2 for 1 drinks. What attracted us to Halfsmoke was, of course, the extra special cocktails on tap. We were excited to try the Eldersmoke, a gin cocktail with elderflower and grapefruit, and the Berry Smoke-Quila, a tequila cocktail with blackberry and angostura, which is a type of aromatic bitters.

The Eldersmoke was so delicious. Elderflower kind of resembles white grape juice, so it was sweet, refreshing, and unique in a cocktail. The grapefruit added a perfect amount of acidity to balance the sweetness from the elderflower and bitterness of the gin. Overall, this cocktail was incredible and I would highly recommend.

The Berry Smoke-Quila was also delicious, but less sweet. Blackberry and tequila are an unexpectedly tasty duo, and when mixed with the bitters, the cocktail  had that extra something for a more sophisticated tang. Both cocktails were garnished with their respective fruits and served in a generously tall cocktail glass.  

To youth and to the fact that not all good things have to come to an end. Head into Halfsmoke any evening for cocktails, stay for the games, and leave with a doggy bag of their signature sausages to nurse your tipsy cravings.

651 Florida Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001


Dannah Strauss

Dannah is our toughest critic. With a food and drink background, this Bitch brings her sophisticated opinion to the D.C. dining scene. Dannah is our D.C. editor and has all the restaurant intel. She's always game to try something new, but when it comes to brunch, she's looking for the classics done in an exceptional manner. French toast over pancakes, and bloodys over mimosas, always.

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