Chill Out at This Sunday Hot Spot

Friday, September 12, 2008

It's time for one of my least favorite annual traditions: Just as summer begins to fade, some enterprising bar/club/promoter comes up with a sunny concept that makes me smack my forehead and wonder why nobody thought of this months ago.

Last year, it was the poolside happy hour at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, which kicked off in August and lasted only a few weeks. For 2008, it's the Coolout, a new Sunday afternoon happy hour and outdoor lounge on the rooftop deck at the Beacon Hotel in the District.

Every Sunday from 3 to 9 p.m. local DJs Adrian Loving, Harry Hotter and guests spin up-tempo soul, Brazilian beats, house with soaring vocals and rubbery bass lines -- anything that will get the guests grooving while they socialize.

I've never been a fan of the bar at the Beacon: bad service, boring happy hour, forgettable Appletini-and-Cosmo cocktail menu. But taking the party outside makes it something else entirely. The top floor, formerly the hotel's luxe penthouse, has a wide promenade that wraps around the building, offering bistro-style tables and a nest of cozy couches and armchairs. There's even a fountain where folks can soak their feet.

The open-bar deals feature an hour or two of free mojitos and other cocktails. (Once the gratis drinks end, prices shoot to $6 for a bottle of Stella Artois and $10 for a plastic cup of anything made with a name-brand spirit.)

Then again, it's hard to complain. There's no cover charge or dress code, and the number of Prada and Gucci sunglasses on display rivals any upscale nightclub, though they're paired instead with designer T-shirts and flip-flops. Although this is one of the least-interesting views from a rooftop bar I've visited, when the sun is beating down, the music and laid-back vibe make it easy to imagine yourself at some hot new South Beach destination. Let's hope for a few more weeks of nice weather to keep this party going.

-- Fritz Hahn

The Coolout Beacon Hotel, 1615 Rhode Island Ave. NW Phone:202-872-1126 Hours: Sundays 3 to 9 p.m.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company