You’re lounging on the white sands of a Polynesian beach when you slurp the last of your mai tai. You motion to a cabana boy and settle back into your lounge chair while you await another fruity beverage.
“Next stop, Chinatown,” he responds.
OK, so maybe you were daydreaming while uncomfortably sandwiched between two commuters on a Metro train. Reality bites.
For those looking to leave the real world behind for a minute, may we suggest an authentic tropical cocktail? The Tiki fad of the ’50s and ’60s is being rekindled at spots throughout the city where classic rum-and-fruit-juice concoctions meet delightfully kitschy decor.
At Jack Rose Dining Saloon, you’ll find an upstairs Tiki bar where the campy decor is inspired by that of Trader Vic’s and Don the Beachcomber; reed mats and carved Tiki masks line the walls all summer long while classic cocktail umbrellas adorn drinks fit for a hula girl.
“We’re trying to provide as much of an escape here as we can,” says beverage director Trevor Frye, who makes his own citrus-infused vodka and mixes it in cocktails like the Orange Crush with triple sec, orange juice and Sprite. Tiki options are offered Thursdays through Saturdays until the weather gets cold, and they’re available at half price during happy hour on Thursdays from 5-10 p.m.
A few blocks away, Adam Bernbach of Doi Moi crafts elevated versions of Tiki standards. His tropical concoctions incorporate a wide selection of house-made ingredients — including roasted banana syrup, peanut-infused bourbon and tamarind soda — as well as creative spins on the classics: fresh pineapple juice runs through a soda siphon to give pina coladas a hint of carbonation.
Farmers Fishers Bakers in Georgetown provides 2-foot-long straws in its scorpion bowls, made for sharing and served with a riverfront view. You can taste your way through classic zombies (limit two per guest, lest the high alcohol content turn you into one), mai tais and a new collection of frozen blended drinks.
For eight years, The Majestic Cafe in Old Town has been serving up a slice of luau heaven with a Tiki drink menu that rotates every summer and is served in tacky ceramic mugs. (The Galeophobic and Proud, for example, is made with Cruzan light rum, Blue Curacao, kalamanzi (a limelike fruit) and citrus syrup, and arrives in a shark head with floating Swedish Fish.)
“I think anyplace is Tiki City,” bartender-owner Todd Thrasher says. “Tiki is really more a state of mind than a place.”
By that logic, we’re all just an umbrella cocktail away from cooling island breezes.
Jack Rose Dining Saloon, 2007 18th St. NW; 202-588-7388, jackrosediningsaloon.com. (Dupont Circle)
Doi Moi, 1800 14th St. NW; 202-733-5131, doimoidc.com. (U Street)
Farmers Fishers Bakers, 3000 K St. NW; 202-298-8783, farmersfishersbakers.com.
The Majestic Cafe, 911 King St., Alexandria; 703-837-9117, majesticcafe.com. (King St-Old Town )
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