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Politiki, Washington, D.C. (bar)

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Iolani posted on Tue, Dec 9, 2003 8:32 AM

Name:Politiki, Washington, D.C.
Street:319 Pennsylvania Ave SE - Basement Level
City:Washington, D.C.
Phone:(202) 546-1001
Status: Thrown off the Pali and deceased.

*** UPDATE ***

This tiki bar is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! THIS IS A LATE TIKI BAR. It's a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace! It's rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible! THIS IS AN EX-TIKI BAR!

As this thread notes, the space has been converted into a "German" bar with a sheisse theme.

They could have at least given it a good German theme. Something like "Hogan's Heroes."



[ Edited by: Iolani 2005-09-30 09:26 ]

i went to politiki about 2x in circa 1998 and the main floor was still very cool. then they changed a couple years later to the pub thing. i liked the authenticity of the main floor's decoration/ambiance while it was still tiki but moved my stomping grounds elsewhere and didn't feel compelled to go back, especially after the pub thing. last year i tried to sneak into the basement (still tiki) during day hours, and the big "tony rocky horror" dude kicked me out.


[ Edited by: Johnny Dollar on 2003-12-09 08:51 ]

On 2003-12-09 08:32, Iolani wrote:
I've stayed away from it for years b/c I don't like Hill trash

Okay . . .

Well as to Politiki, they did have a very good bartender, Ted, until not too long ago who could mix excellent Tiki drinks and was receptive to Tiki generally. If he's gone for good, then there's probably nothing to recommend the place except for the decor.

[ Edited by: Suburban Hipster on 2003-12-09 09:51 ]


Ah, thanks for the tip. I'll have to give them a call to see if Ted still works there.


If he's gone for good, then there's probably nothing to recommend the place except for the decor.

Well they do have some cool president mugs to buy. http://www.topofthehill-dc.com/politiki/tikimugs.htm

^Very true. The Reagan mug is a must have. Not only is it valued at $250 by Ebay sellers, but it also has Nancy doing the hula on the back. Huba huba.


I've been trying unsuccessfully to buy that set of mugs for over a year now. They do not have the greatest customer service at PoliTiki. I've emailed them maybe 5 or 6 times and never gotten a reply. Finally last July I called them. They seemed only vaguely familiar with the fact that the mugs were even for sale. I mentioned the website advertisement...the person I spoke with didn't know they had a website. Then I spoke with a manager who said there was only one mug style for sale (Reagan). She said the rest might be in stock next month. I call back in September to see if they had restocked. Same runaround on the phone. The only answer I could get is that they didn't have any for sale and may never get any. Basically, they didn't know and didn't care. I've pretty much given up on them...sounds like they're going downhill in all respects.

ModMana :drink:


Several of us in the DC area have met at Poli-tiki a number of times over the past year. Everytime we ask about their mugs, and every time they say they have only a few styles in stock (Reagan, FDR) It takes a small search in their storeroom for them to find what is available. I don't put much faith in them re-ordering their stock.

I was last in Poli-tiki in July. I had a couple of drinks in the basement level, which were OK. The bartender had a small stack of business-sized cards on the bar, each featured a promotional picture of a dancer from a nearby strip club. He was handing these cards to the customers, telling us we should stop by that club afterwards. He was quite proud that he knew several of the women by name.

I would have preferred it if he was more proud of the many tiki drinks that he could make from memory. Evidently good help - especially the kind with a knowledge of tiki-mixology - is hard to find.



With the imminent demise of Honolulu in the near future it looks like you're gonna have to stay at home for authentic tiki decor and well made tiki drinks. I agree the Politiki's decor is rather nice but I've yet to have a well made drink that even begins to compare with the ones I can mix up at home. As for the mugs, I don't think we're ever going to see a new stock of them so we should probably stop holding our breath! If you really need to have one I guess you'll have to resort to $200.00 mugs on Ebay - or if anyone wants to make a trade for a Reagan and an FDR let me know :wink:


Last I heard about the mugs, they were in transit...somewhere...on a boat?! They didn't seemed all that worried that the mugs had gone a missin'. Ted will be missed, I still remember the SB the one bartender made while reading the directions from Ted's chart. It was sufferin, but I don't know what it was.

I was truly excited to see the Politiki last summer on a business trip to DC. The high point of my evening was meeting Mr. and Mrs. Suburban hipster. The Politiki appeared to have started with all the passion and care of a true tiki person. The Bosko art was plentiful, Ryden on the walls, a collection of mugs behind the bar and tropical themed decor.

Unfortunately, all the living parts of the bar were the exact opposite of Tiki. The top two floors looked more like a sports bar frat house with AC/DC playing at full volume.

It was clear the owner had a vision, but the average patron does not seem to care for it very much.

Hopefully it will turn around but it doesn't look good.

Thanks again Hipsters for a great night out.


I have a set of four politiki mugs that i plan to put up on ebay. I like them, but as seen in a 'collecting tiki' thread i am short on room, and the mugs are a space-taker. I decided I was going to go all-vintage to save room.. since they are recent, they will go. If anyone is interested let me know ill i try to get around to posting them.

I think they are:

carter, lincoln, FDR and Nixon


I need a Nixon and Lincoln!


When Politiki opened, a group of us were determined to make it our new hang out. We were in awe of downstairs Tiki bar and thought the political tiki idea was pretty clever. Unfortunately, capitol hill idjits who frequent the place would have none of it. Anything that got in the way of their Miller Lite and Beastie Boys was treated with complete disrespect. We soon discovered Honolulu in Virginia, though. Mr. Chan treated us like we were his beloved, drunken children. Some of my favorite, if not fuzziest, memories of living in the DC area are from there.

[ Edited by: mrhansell on 2003-12-10 11:52 ]

I've been there three times. The first time I went on a night they were closed. The second time I went too early and the downstairs tiki bar was closed, but the upstairs sports pub was open. The third time I went the tiki bar was open, but I was the only person there. The bar tender was cool and he made me a "Shark's Tooth" which was pretty good. I liked the decor, but the lack of customers seems like a major problem.

This place has had a lot of ups and downs.

I went there in 1998 and the ground level floor was cool, but not mind-blowing. The owners told me they were going to have swing dancing upstairs on the second floor, and "more Tiki in the basement, Kahuna".

Then the local frat boys decided Tiki wasn't hip and forced the owners into de-Tikifing the ground level. Word spread that there was no Tiki left at PoliTiki.

Later, I got an Email from the owner stating that although the ground level and upstairs were no longer Tiki (or at all retro in any sense), the basement was a Tiki paradise.

My latest understanding is that the basement is Tiki, but (as previous posters to this thread have pointed out), the bartenders aren't.

Given the location, this place was doomed to failrue from day 1, and the fact tthat they've had their doors open going on 6 years is a miracle. Too bad they weren't in a spot more condusive to drawing a Tiki-appriciative crowd.

As of this morning,

I walked by "the facility formerly known as Poli-Tiki," I noticed the original sign has been removed / covered up and in its place is a sign that says "Pour * House."

The Abe and Roosevelt tikis are still there on the facade.


I went there in 98 and found it to be sub-standard. Actually, really disappointing.

As others have said, the place looked more into Bud Light banners than tikis.

I bought 3 mugs, Carter, Nixon and Lincoln, and called it a night.

Would have liked a Reagan, but it hadn't been created yet, I think.

Great mugs. Crappy bar. No harm that it's gone now.

Anyone been inside lately to see whether the basement is still tiki?


The website is still up, but right now it says:

Look out for our new theme bar downstairs

Details to be posted soon !!!


On 2004-07-21 09:56, Humuhumu wrote:
The website is still up, but right now it says:

Look out for our new theme bar downstairs

Details to be posted soon !!!




Do it at Politiki


I stopped at the former Poli-Tiki earlier today. As someone had previously posted, the name of the place is no longer Poli-Tiki -- it is now called the Pour House. The main floor was your standard sports bar -perhaps a dozen television sets, and other sports prints on the wall. I believe they are trying to cater to the international soccer crowd, as that was what was on most of the screens.

One of the doors to the former basement tiki room was blocked off (it was late Sunday afternoon), so I asked the bartender if the tiki stuff was still down there. She said all of the tiki stuff is gone, and that room is known as the Scheisse Haus, with a German theme.

So, unless anyone has the courage to go down there and see if there are any tiki remnants left there, I would write off the Poli-Tiki for us tiki lovers.



On 2004-07-25 16:22, ikitnrev wrote:
that room is known as the Scheisse Haus,

If that means what I think it means, more power to them. That totally sucks that the tiki are all gone. Hold on to those Nancy Reagan mugs.


[ Edited by: TNTiki on 2004-11-06 18:16 ]

That sums up the poli-tiki for me.

Great mugs and great name and concept.

Totally Sh** execution.


On 2004-07-26 17:18, BarkerBird wrote:
That sums up the poli-tiki for me.

Great mugs and great name and concept.

Totally Sh** execution.


all that remains...


thx Debra Jane Seltzer / agilitynut


from Washington Post:
"Also gone is the dimly lit, basement-level Politiki lounge, which featured a large Trader Vic-style tropical drink menu, rattan furniture and large carved tiki heads. The concept was nicer than the space, which was really showing its age. The basement now sports vaguely Germanic decor, including dark wooden beams and a Bavarian flag, as well as a puerile name that isn't suitable for polite German-speaking company. 'It's a joke, more of a parody," Laverty says. 'It's a real laidback floor, like a beer hall." Schuster adds: 'We wanted to get it cleaned up and make it a nicer bar.'"



[ Edited by: Johnny Dollar on 2005-03-25 09:29 ]


Now if we can only find a way to liberate Lincoln & find a "new deal" for FDR! I've got a nice 15' high expanse of wall leading down the basement steps that FDR would look perfect on!

Glad I was able to visit it before its demise.

On 2005-03-25 05:46, johntiki wrote:
Now if we can only find a way to liberate Lincoln & find a "new deal" for FDR!

it'd be funny to secretly replace abe and fdr tikis with tikis of barfing frat boys / hill wonks in tyrolean hats

"'It's a real laidback floor, like a beer hall.' Schuster adds: 'We wanted to get it cleaned up and make it a nicer bar.'"
So a beer hall with a name that means "sh*t" is a cleaner, nicer bar?!?!? Than a cool, classy, richly decorated space?? Granted, I was lucky in that I was there with the DC/VA/MD crew on a night when Ted the Fab Bartender was working so the compnay was perfect and the drinks rocked, therefore my memories are nothing but fond, but STILL!

A beer hall name "Sh*t House" is classier and nicer than a tiki lounge.

The Devil is making snow-demons in Hell tonight...

By sheer chance I stumbled upon the place that appears to have inherited a good deal of the tiki items from Politiki. It's the "Big Hunt" near Dupont Circle. They have a headhunter theme downstairs, with the tiki stuff around the pool table upstairs and on the small patio. Ryden prints, a case of mugs, several tikis, etc.

I'll post my pictures when I get some time.


Joe Englert, the former owner of Politiki, is the co-owner of The Big Hunt and several other bars in the DC area, so those are probably the same items that were displayed in Poli-Tiki. I believe most of those items were from Englert's private collection.

Englert sold the former Poli-Tiki to new owners, who converted the formerly tiki decor basement to a German themed room.

Englert seems to have lots of ideas for new themed bars in the DC area, and is looking to revive the H street corridor in Northeast DC. If anyone has the resources and connections to open a new tiki bar in DC, it is probably him.



We probably need the status updated for this one.


On 2005-07-29 09:29, rupe33 wrote:
We probably need the status updated for this one.

Done and done.


The irony is... the posting on here that indicates the new theme is Scheisse Haus (roughly translates as Sh*t House), it wasn't a joke: it's the real name of the new bar:


I doesn't "roughly" translate as sh*t house. It's a literal translation.

and that's just sad.


Allow me to ad a little linguistic differentiation here:

While the word Scheisshaus does exist in German slang (as in "Ich geh mal eben auf's Scheisshaus"- I am going to the crapper), the term "Scheisse Haus" is an American invention, conjuring up word associations like "Dieses Haus ist Scheisse" (This house is shit) or "Ich scheisse auf dieses Haus" (I shit on this house).
In general, the inspiration for this kind of name seems to come from the frat boy idea that all of Germany is one big drunken Octoberfest (much like all of Polynesia is one big Luau, tiz tiz).

Sorry to bump this old thread, but I'm relatively new to the tiki drink scene and I was wondering if anybody knows if there are any tiki bars or tiki-esque bars at all in Washington(or at least near the district and accessible by metro)?

I went to a bar the other day and no one there could make a Mai Tai. I need something better than bars like that!

Thanks for bumping this thread. I visited Politiki once, about 3 years ago. I was the only person there, so the young guy behind the bar decided to comp me a bunch of cocktails after I purchased a Ronald Reagan mug. He was enthusiastic, but needed a lot more practice.

After I'd sucked down a couple, the female congressional pages started showing up in droves, the music changed from tropical/lounge to country rock, the frat boys began migrating downstairs in order to hit on the pages, and the whole scene went to hell in a handbasket. I split.

In short, the place was already a Scheisse Haus, it just didn't say that on the sign outside yet.

everything in dc went downhill after mr. chan stopped mixing nixon's navy grogs :)


On 2006-05-27 14:50, DJ HawaiianShirt wrote:
Sorry to bump this old thread, but I'm relatively new to the tiki drink scene and I was wondering if anybody knows if there are any tiki bars or tiki-esque bars at all in Washington(or at least near the district and accessible by metro)?

I went to a bar the other day and no one there could make a Mai Tai. I need something better than bars like that!

Pacific Restaurant in Sterling Virginia. Good Mai Tais. Pretty good tiki - but too 'clean' if you know what I mean.
Forbidden City Restaurant in McLean Va. Good Zombies (and pretty good mai tais). Not tiki tho - chinese.

and if you find yourself at the stardust restaurant (http://www.stardustrestaurant.com/) in alexandria, do NOT ask for a mai tai - the bartender there almost decked me after i told her her mai tai was not a mai tai :)



Is that Pacific Restaurant in Sterling accessible by Metro? I'm but a lowly young person without a car here.

In Express yesterday I saw a recipe for a tropical looking drink, and the recipe was by Cabanas, a restaurant near the Georgetown waterfront. It says that it's Latin American cuisine, which isn't tiki per se, but definitely tropical. I'm thinking of trying it out, although it's bound to be horribly expensive.


The Pacific Restaurant is not accessible via metro - it is probably at least 10 miles from the nearest metro station.

You may want to try Mama Qwan's Tiki Hut, which just opened a couple of weekends ago - which is within a block of the Clarendon metro station (on the orange line, in Northern VA) I haven't been there yet, but there is some info on this thread - and if you do visit, let us know!



We went to Mama Quan's last night and were pretty disappointed. Concrete floors, loud frat-geared reggae, pseudo-tropical $9 sandwiches and not a tiki mug in the house. The crowd hailed from the Banana Republic. The servers told us the tiki theme was only a "summer fling."

rupe33 posted on Mon, Jan 3, 2011 4:32 AM

Was at the Pour House yesterday and - in looking at their menus online - was astonished to discover that the Lincoln and Roosevelt tikis are actually still on display on either side of the main sign.

Also spotted this sign in a nearby park while walking back to the Metro. Apparently cocktail-making hoodlums have been hanging out there:


[ Edited by: rupe33 2011-01-03 04:35 ]

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