The Scene: The first Kimpton hotel bar to open in Washington, cool-blue Topaz is funkier than its siblings Firefly, Rouge and Poste. There's some sort of Asian theme here -- doormen in Nehru jackets, a house cocktail called the Blue Nirvana -- and while the animal-print rugs and constantly shifting lights feel like forced attempts at hip, the cocktails and oft-mellow vibe are worth a visit. Topaz's crowds can be hit or miss, though; one night will find the place packed with professionals and girls-night-out groups, while another visit reveals a mostly empty bar at happy hour. There's never a cover charge or dress code.
In Your Glass: The house cocktails are a surprising mix of oddball "elixirs" and old standbys. Summer 2006's cocktail list features the intriguing, tangy Geisha-rita, which is essentially a Milagro margarita with fresh litchi puree added. The Mango Happy Family arrives with two parts: first, a punchy glass of mango-and-ginger-infused Bacardi Limon rum that will have you dreaming of the islands, and the separate garnish is a few juicy mango slices that have been marinating in rum. There's a White Cosmopolitan, too, for "Sex and the City" fans clinging to 2002.
On Your Plate: An eclectic selection of bar snacks with an Asian twist. Plump wings arrive with sweet-and-sour sauce, miniburgers boast a tangy peanut sauce and cucumber salad, quesadillas hide Thai chicken curry and are accompanied by peanut sauce for dipping.
Nice to Know: The weekday happy hour includes $5 Blue Nirvana cocktails (vodka, blue curacao and sour mix topped with champagne), $3 Asian beers and $4 plates of wings from 4 to 7. Tuesday is "Neighborhood Wine Night," with a rotating selection of red and white wines offered for $6 a glass and $19 a bottle.
Price Points: Most cocktails are $10, while the fancier ones are offered at $11.
-- Fritz Hahn (July 2006)