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Drinking at Embassy Bars

Tapping kegs, not phones: A guide for the diplomatic dipsomaniac

Drinking with dignitaries is a treasured Washington pastime. And these days, imbibing at an embassy is easier than ever, considering a number of consulates celebrate the customs of their homelands with traditional watering holes right here on U.S. soil. Below, a crib sheet for D.C.’s ambassador haunts.

THE BRITISH EMBASSY

Don’t expect oak beams and wood paneling at Bar 3100. After a recent renovation, this contemporary pub boasts framed pictures of the cast of Downton Abbey and tables dedicated to games of flip-cup. Open only to staff and invited guests, the bar serves Brit standbys like Boddingtons, Newcastle and Strongbow. 

THE FINNISH EMBASSY

The Finns don’t just loosen their collars over cocktails, they lose them entirely. Each month, a group of in-the-know Washingtonians gathers at the bar in the basement of the Finnish Embassy for the Diplomatic Sauna Society, which features food (gravlax and potatoes), drink (Finlandia vodka) and, of course, a schvitz.

THE CUBAN INTERESTS SECTION

Located on the second floor of a mansion just over a mile from the White House is the two-year-old Hemingway Lounge and Bar. Because embassies aren’t bound by laws of their host country, guests here can freely enjoy authentic Cohiba cigars and Havana Club rum in drinks like the Papa Doble, a Hemingway favorite.

THE GERMAN EMBASSY

The Berlin Bar was originally designed to be a room for entertaining in the German ambassador’s residence, but was overhauled in 2001 in homage to Berlin’s famous Paris Bar. A staircase leading down to the bar glows red from a neon sign heralding the rathskeller, and it opens into a modern black, white and red room festooned with images of the Berlin wall, Checkpoint Charlie and other historic sites.

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