White is out after Labor Day, but nobody said anything about tiki cocktails

September 3, 2013

Though Labor Day may feel like the end of summer, there are almost three weeks to go before the autumn equinox. That's more than enough time to toast the season with a tropical drink.

Here's a guide to feeling like you're at the beach even when you're back at work.

Tuesday

A mango margarita from Tonic at Quigley's Pharmacy. (Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)
A mango margarita from Tonic at Quigley's Pharmacy. (Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)

Tonic at Quigley's Pharmacy officially launched its new back patio and Tiki Tuesdays promotion last week. The large outdoor space – a premium in Foggy Bottom – is covered with tables and a bar, and separated from a neighboring patch of grass by a fence made from tiki torches and flowered leis.

Show up Tuesday night after 7 p.m. and you'll be greeted with plastic leis. A tiki-themed drink menu includes a $5 Pimm's Cup, which is served in a pint glass loaded with cucumbers and strawberries, and $6 frozen cocktails, which arrive in ceramic tiki mugs. The Mango Margarita reminded me of eating canned frozen tropical fruit juice as a kid; a friend complained that it was almost too sweet to drink. Beer fans can order a $5 pint of DC Brau.

Wednesday

A Scorpion Bowl cocktail at Hogo. (Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post)
A Scorpion Bowl cocktail at Hogo. (Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post)

If you're going out for drinks with friends, few things are more fun than sharing a Scorpion Bowl. Something about the combination of oversize straws, rum and a ceramic bowl topped with flickering flames always guarantees a good time, especially when you're sharing the "They're All Bastards," a potent creation by Hogo's Julia Hurst.

Served in a yellow bowl decorated with hula girls and topped with a combination of flowers and fruit slices, They're All Bastards is a spicy mix of rum, bourbon, velvet falernum, ginger beer, brown sugar and citrus. It's beautifully blended and goes down too easily, so watch out -- one bowl is roughly the equivalent of four cocktails. No wonder it costs $30 and is recommended for groups of two to four.

Thursday

Jack Rose's main level is for serious whiskey drinkers. The rooftop deck is more of a party scene. This split personality became more distinct in mid-August when the Jack Rose covered the roof's tiny rear bar with bamboo and declared every Thursday "Tiki Thursday," with half-price tropical libations from 5 to 10 p.m. Whether you want a Zombie (multiple rums, passion fruit, grenadine, orange curacao) or the simple-yet-potent Blackheart's Punch (Blackstrap rum, cinnamon syrup, lime), all drinks cost $6.50. There's a special food menu with pork belly skewers ($4) and lemon-pineapple shrimp ($8) but the drinks are the real star.

The bar gets crowded early, but seems to die down around 8. Since the specials run until 10, there's no pressure to show up right after work. (Already have plans on Thursday? The tiki bar is also open on Friday and Saturday nights, but without drink deals.)

Friday

Tropical drinks flow straight from the at taps at Bar Charley, the new cocktail lounge from the team behind El Chucho and Jackie's Sidebar. Bartender/co-owner Gordon Banks created special versions of the rum-heavy Mai Tai and Suffering Bastard, which come in glasses featuring guitar-playing hula dancers or carved faces. A version of the famous Orange Crush, mixed with house-made orange vodka and fresh-squeezed orange halves, recalls beaches closer to home.

While there are no leis or palm fronds to be seen at the bar, you'll still feel far away from Washington: The tiki drinks cost $7 each, and a Crush is just $8. The bar, located at 1825 18th St. NW, officially opens on Thursday, Sept. 5, so there may be crowds. Be patient, because the drinks are worth it.

@fritzhahn

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