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An article from the Drink D.C. website showing that tiki drinks are becoming popular in multiple locations around Washington D.C.
A few notes that I will add:
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)
[ Edited by: ikitnrev 2014-07-09 08:31 ]
Here is one more place, Doi Moi, offering tiki drinks in Washington D.C. this summer.
Doi Moi has become one of my favorite restaurants, with inventive, and often very hot, Vietnamese inspired food.
Doi Moi is revamping its cocktail program for the summer, and the result will be Scorpion bowls, Pina Coladas and daiquiris.
Bar director Adam Bernbach is using the warm weather to play with some of his favorite cocktails (he considers the Pina Colada to be quite underrated) and to emphasize how well Tiki drinks can pair with spicy Asian cuisine. Look for classic Tiki drinks like the Mai Tai and the Suffering Bastard, plus some under-the-radar offerings and original spins.
Update: Drinks will be $12-$14 each; the bowls are $35. The new menu will debut in full come July 1.
Pina Colada - Dark Rum, Pineapple, Coconut, Lime
I'm impressed - one returns from a vacation, and finds all sorts of articles promoting tiki cocktails in the Washington D.C. area . . .
Here is one more article listing three places to get a much-better-than-average pina colada. I've had the one at Two Birds One Stone - it is superb.
Piña coladas are more often appreciated by Banana Boat–slathered sun seekers than serious cocktail connoisseurs. That’s a shame, says DGS Delicatessen Beverage Director Brian Zipin, because “the piña colada along with the Mai Tai are the two greatest drinks in the world, in my opinion—except for Manhattans.” Zipin and a number of other top bartenders around D.C. are revisiting the tropical tipple this summer, using freshly squeezed juices and other unique flourishes. Here are three places to indulge your inner beach bum while still feeling like a sophisticated drinker.
Doi Moi/2 Birds 1 Stone
Here is an article from the Washington Post, about Washington D.C.'s best tiki bar (Hogo) closing - the last day will be this coming weekend.
I've been visiting D.C. area tiki bars for over 15 years, and I agree that this was one of the best. A bar with creative energy to completely revamp their cocktail menu 2 or three times - 100% new cocktails listed each time.
There are other places where you can go every week to get a familiar mai tai, or fog cutter, or any other standard tiki drink - and many people thrive on that predictability, but I will miss not looking over Hogo's menu to find out what is new, or to gaze over their selection of rarer rums, often requesting off-the-menu cocktails made with those different rums - I've had many multiple version of the Ti Punch, selecting a different base rum, preferably agricole, each time.
The bartenders were quite knowledgable, able to recommend specific rums to go with individual preferences.
Its a shame that more DC area people were unable, for whatever reason, to visit Hogo during its prime. I'm definitely hoping it will someday re-open, in another location in the D.C. area.
Say Mahalo to Hogo as D.C.’s top tiki bar is set to close
If you can’t have fun in a tiki bar, you can’t have fun.
Just try to suppress a smile when you see a giant ceramic bowl headed for your table, decorated with flowers and extra-long straws and topped with a flickering flame of burning high-proof rum.
That has always been one of the charms of Hogo, the rum-focused bar next to the Passenger that opened in late 2012. It doesn’t look the part of the stereotypical tiki bar — no rattan chairs or palm fronds, no Don Ho tunes — but one drink here has always managed to brighten a stressful day.
It’s almost time, however, to talk about Washington’s top tiki bar in the past tense: Hogo will be closing in the wee hours of Aug. 3. It’s an early departure on a block that’s slated for massive redevelopment in the near future, though owner Tom Brown said in June that Hogo was closing because the concept had “run its course.”
Hogo has never been a traditionally kitschy tiki bar, and that’s one of the things I liked about it. The vibe is dark and divey, with big leather booths, chalkboard drink menus and Motörhead and go-go on the stereo. All of the focus has been where it belongs: on the cocktails created by Brown and his staff as well as the traditional Singapore Sling and such lesser-known old-school drinks as the Jungle Bird.
Hogo will be throwing an “Official Castaway Party” on Aug. 2, with DJs, drink specials and an invitation to help drink the bar dry. But before the big night, there will be a series of themed events. On Saturday, it will be “Hogo’s Hidden Treasures,” a pop-up vintage boutique featuring bespoke tailors from 5 to 8 p.m., plus a special cocktail menu. On Tuesday, the bar will host its last Tiki Tuesday party, with DJs and drink specials (starting at $6) all night.
Wednesday and Thursday will be devoted to tequila and rum, with cocktails and shot deals on the rare bottles in Brown’s extensive collection (he estimates that he has at least 50 rums behind the bar). Then, on Friday, the farewell weekend will begin with a stream of DJs, tiki cocktails and rotating drink specials, some of which probably will be created on the spot.
Brown says that he has had offers to take Hogo elsewhere in the city, and even outside the District, but that he wants to take time to figure out his next move. For now, Brown will be packing up his tiki mugs and heading back to the Passenger, where he’ll resurrect that bar’s weekly Tiki Tuesday.
Looking for a new place to enjoy a classic tiki drink? These bars serve such throwbacks as Mai Tais and Zombies right.
Jack Rose Dining Saloon
2007 18th St. NW. 202-588-7388. http://www.jackrosediningsaloon.com.
The cozy — some might say “tiny” — rear bar on Jack Rose’s rooftop has undergone its annual summer makeover: It’s now a full-on, thatched-walled tiki bar. Stop by between 5 and 10 p.m on Thursday for Tiki Thursday happy hour, when food and drinks are half-price. You’ll pay $6 for a cocktail, including the Rye Tai, which adds rye whiskey to a well-made Mai Tai, or the Break Fluid, a kitchen-sink elixir with multiple rums, passion fruit and grapefruit juices and blue curacao. For snacking, there are shrimp tacos ($4 at happy hour) and festive skewers of pork belly and smoky pineapple.
1825 18th St. NW. 202-627-2183. http://www.barcharley.com.
Mai Tais and Suffering Bastards are always on tap at Bar Charley, served in ceramic hula-girl glasses for $8.95. But the best time to go is on Sunday, when bartender Nick Nazdin hosts Trader Nick’s Tiki Sundays, making five exotic drinks like the rum-heavy Shrunken Skull and Molokai Mule. Each cocktail is $9; pay $15 and keep the glass. (Note: Trader Nick’s went on hiatus after Nazdin broke his arm, but co-owner Gordon Banks says the event should be back soon, once Nazdin gets the all-clear from his doctor.)
3000 K St. NW. 202-298-8783. http://www.farmersfishersbakers.com.
The Tiki Redux menu at this Georgetown waterfront bar turns the clock way back to such old-school cocktails as Zombies, Mai Tais and Scorpions as they were made in the 1930s and ’40s, before they got too boozy and too sweet. There’s also a section of frozen tiki drinks for hot days.
911 King St., Alexandria. 703-837-9117. http://www.majesticcafe.com.
The new summer cocktail menu from Todd Thrasher and Co. is a mix of tweaked classics and new creations. “Old Fames, Great Dames” blends a house-smoked falernum with gin and apricot brandy. Cinnamon, citrus and rum come together in the Monosyllabic Parrot. Most drinks are $10 to $12, and for $24, there’s a rum-heavy bowl to share with a group.
4929 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda. 301-654-7788.
This quiet-looking restaurant on the quieter side of Bethesda Avenue is known for its Peking duck and Szechuan chicken. But owner Kwok Cheung, a veteran of the old downtown Trader Vic’s, also offers such rarities as the Navy Grog, Fog Cutter and Doctor Funk. There’s also a two-person Scorpion Bowl.
I am flying into DC this Saturday, which is their last day. I didn't even know it existed! Is anybody interested in joining up and wishing the place a fond farewell?
The scary news for me is that the article mentions that Passenger and Columbia Room might be closing as well. These are world famous and it would be a shame to lose them!
Bar Charley sounds great. Does anyone know what their selection of mugs is? Is it the hula girl mug only? Or are there others?
Was interested in checking out some DC area bars a while ago. Did some research and didn't really find anything that was a "Tiki Bar", although there were a few places (like Bar Charley) that had a limited Tiki cocktail menu. We really wanted to check out Hogo, but they were already closed by the time we'd thought about going to DC. So I decided to expand my search a little and came upon Whitlow's on Wilson, which is technically in Alexandria, VA, but is only a 10-15 min drive from the heart of downtown DC. Looked like fun (rooftop open-air bar, bamboo and thatch everywhere, carvings, etc), so my wife and I decided to give it a try. I asked the bartender, who was very nice, for a cocktail menu, and was told "we don't have a cocktail menu, but just shout out anything you want and I'll know how to make it". The first thing I usually do when I got to any tiki bar is order a Mai Tai. I figure any bar calling itself a tiki bar should offer, at least an average, Mai Tai. First piece of advice...do NOT order anything that requires more than 1 liquor here. It's a cool looking bar, in a fun neighborhood, with very nice bartenders and average bar food, but it's more of a college bar that's covered in thatch than a real tiki bar. My Mai Tai came out pinkish-purple, and I'm pretty sure I saw pineapple and tequila go in it. It was pretty terrible. So my wife stuck to cider and I switched to canned beer. All-in-all, we're glad we went, and we definitely enjoyed people watching once it got crowded, but we probably won't go back, at least not for anything tiki.
Mahalo Kahiki Guy,
Sorry to hear about your experiences trying to find a decent tiki cocktail in DC. Unfortunately, we are now pretty much devoid of all tiki/polynesean restaurants and bars. Most of what is labeled as tiki bars around here really are nothing more than parrot-head themed beach bars that cater to the college crowd (just my humble opinion, of course). Nothing wrong with these bars, but really not tiki as we know it. Your experience at Whitlow's on Wilson is a typical occurrence nowadays.
If you're ever back in our neck of the woods, I do recommend the following DC area spots, as in my view, they are the best we have at this point:
Mahalo Tyber Tiki! Thanks for the information. I did see that saloon listed in the results for my Tiki search, but wasn't sure about it. I will check that out.
With regard to the Tiki Thirstdays get together, that looks like it's right up my alley! And, considering I live in Baltimore, it's not that far of a trip for me. Thursdays are my busiest days, but hopefully I'll be able to make it down there one Thursday and bring some of my exotica vinyl and a favorite mug. Thanks so much for the information! Hope to see you there one day!
[ Edited by: Kraken007 2016-05-24 03:39 ]
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