As NPR’s intelligence correspondent, Mary Louise Kelly spent years chasing sources through the corridors of power in Washington, D.C. Then she decided to turn her eye from the spy beat to spy fiction. The result is her debut espionage thriller, “Anonymous Sources.”
The plot pivots around a reporter named Alexandra James, who likes her coffee black, her shoes Italian, and her cocktails strong. “I generally stick to gin,” says Alex. “Clear, simple.” She has a particular soft spot for Hendrick’s, the cucumber-infused Scottish spirit – just the thing, after a tough day of cajoling secrets out of White House and CIA officials.
Below are five places in D.C., where you’d be likely to find Alex James enjoying a crisp gin and tonic on a sultry summer day.
The Graham Hotel
1075 Thomas Jefferson Street NW
Washington, DC 20007
Hendrick’s and tonic, $16.50
One of the newest additions to Washington’s bar scene (it opened in April 2013), and one of the swankiest. Pretty young things flock to this Georgetown roof terrace, to drink in both cocktails and the panoramic view over the Kennedy Center, the Washington Monument, and the Key Bridge. Alex James would wear her Ferragamo stilettos here, and fit right in.
1739 N Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Hendrick’s and tonic, $11
The Tabard opened for business in 1922. During World War II, it operated as a boarding house for Navy Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES). Today, this Dupont Circle landmark features worn leather bar stools, wood paneling and candle light. Alex might meet a source at an outdoor table, tucked in a corner of one of the prettiest hidden gardens in the city.
The Lounge at Bourbon Steak
Four Seasons Hotel
2800 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20007
Hendrick’s and tonic, $14
In the mood for a power steak with your power cocktail? Require a leather ceiling above your leather armchair? You’re in the right place. The air is thick with whispered deals at this favorite watering hole of the Georgetown establishment. The crowd skews towards forty and fifty-something lawyers with their ties loosened and their top buttons undone; Alex might meet her dad here for a drink.
Related: Best Lounge Bars In Washington D.C.
Off The Record
800 16th St. NW
Washington, DC 20006
Hendrick’s and tonic, $16
In a town where proximity to the White House equals power, this bar is hard to beat. It’s a straight shot across Lafayette Square from the West Wing. On a typical evening, Off The Record is packed with tourists, journalists, and Washington’s political elite. In the book, Alex and her editor retreat here after a bruising session interviewing NSC (National Security Council) staffers at the White House. Her editor orders a bottle of sauvignon blanc; Alex orders… well, you can probably guess by now.
W Washington D.C.
515 15th St., NW
Washington, DC 20004
Hendrick’s and tonic, $13
You’ll need a reservation to gain entry, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. But the hassle is worth it for the jaw-dropping views from this downtown rooftop bar. Order a cocktail and gaze out over the city’s stately monuments, the Potomac River and the White House. Alex James is at P.O.V. trying to sip her gin in peace, when she is abducted at gunpoint. A struggle ensues. Gunfire shatters the twilight calm. Hopefully you’ll have a better night.