Where to Find Tiki Cocktails in D.C.
When summer in the city starts to get unbearably hot, you might start dreaming of a tropical island getaway where you can cool off in the Pacific and sip fruity cocktails garnished with fresh flowers. You might not be able to hop the next flight to Fiji or Hawaii, but you can certainly find the best thing — deliciously exotic rum punches served in glasses that evoke Polynesian carvings. Though tiki culture isn’t exactly authentic — it was created in the post World War II fascination with all things Pacific — that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun, kitschy, and refreshing. So put on a lei and a Hawaiian shirt and get yourself to these great bars with tiki cocktails.
Hogo: A list of tiki cocktails in the nation’s capital that didn’t include the sister bar to perennial favorite Passenger would be a huge oversight—Hogo is the District’s only 100% tiki bar. Unfortunately, the Washington Post Going Out Guide revealed recently that Hogo is closing in August, which means you have two months to get yourself over there to sample some of their tropical magic. Try their epic Volcano Bowl garnished with fresh flowers and fire, or the rotating selection of creative rum cocktails (some garnished with tiny monkeys!) What are you waiting for? (1017 7th St NW; 202-393-1313)
Bar Charley: This quirky and cozy Dupont bar offers up two delicious tiki cocktails on tap: The Fogcutter, a boozy mix of rum, pisco, gin, orgeat, orange juice, lemon, and sherry, and the Suffering Bastard with gin, bourbon, lime, house ginger beer, and Angostura bitters. Tiki-on-tap is only $5 during happy hour. (1825 18th St. NW; 202-627-2183)
Barmini: Next to Jose Andres’s swanky Minibar is this little “culinary cocktail lab,” which has put a sophisticated polish on what are usually thought of as spring break drinks. Try the The Painkiller, made with spiced rum, pineapple juice, coconut cream, and orange juice. (855 E St NW; 202-393-4451)
Farmers, Fishers, Bakers: This K St farm-to-table has enough tiki cocktails on their menu to sort by category: Zombies, Mai Tais, Scorpions, Daquiris, and Swizzles—rum-based cocktails stirred with decorative swizzle sticks. Many of their drinks are throwbacks to the golden age of tiki cocktails, like the Don the Beachcomber circa 1937 Mai Tai (Appleton, Bacardi, and Demerara rums, lime juice, grapefruit juice, honey syrup, ginger syrup, house-made falernum and bitters) or the Circa 1964 Zombie (rum blend, lime juice, grapefruit juice, cinnamon syrup, FF zombie mix, and house-made falernum syrup). (3000 K Street NW; 202-298-8783)
Jack Rose Dining Saloon: Known for its whiskey selection and wine expertise, this classy Adams Morgan hangout also specializes in classic tiki cocktails, best enjoyed at their rooftop bar with a grass-thatched hut. Travel to the islands with a cold Singapore Sling (gin, cherry herring, Cointreau, Benedictine, pineapple, lime, grenadine, angostura bitters) or the Imperial Shandy (tequila, lime, orange juice, Combier, imperial lager float). Stop by for Tiki Thursdays when all tiki sips and Polynesian-style appetizers are half off. (2007 18th Street NW; 202-588-7388)
Dirty Martini: You’re likely to see plenty of suits and high heels at this upscale Dupont cocktail lounge, but head upstairs to their rooftop tiki bar to kick your shoes off. They offer up the classics like a strong Mai Tai, or try the The Fish House Punch, with Myers Dark Jamaican Rum,Hardy VS Cognac, fresh lime & lemon juice & homemade gum syrup, served in a Collins glass with lime wheel. (1223 Connecticut Ave NW; 202-503-2640)
Photo: Flickr user aloha75