There’s no better way to spend a day on the beach than sipping a piña colada — that sweet blend of rum, coconut cream and pineapple juice. But if you can’t get away this summer, you can still get a taste of the tropics right here in Washington. Close your eyes in any of these three island-inspired bars, and you just might feel a slight ocean breeze.
Lingering at Archipelago may be the closest you’ll get to feeling shipwrecked in this landlocked city. With its bamboo ceiling, paintings of palm trees and slack-key guitar soundtrack, you might expect to find Wilson at this bar. Instead, you’ll find millennials snapping photos of the colorful tiki glasses. The piña colada is served frozen, with Coco Lopez cream of coconut. A blend of Bacardi white rum and El Dorado gold rum yields a light, sweet flavor, and fresh pineapple juice makes this cocktail extra fruity. On a recent visit, a projection on the wall showed the surfers of “The Beach Girls and the Monster” being terrorized by anthropomorphized seaweed — what’s more tropical than that? $11. $7 at happy hour Tuesday through Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. 1201 U St. NW. 202-627-0794.
With its brick walls and candlelit interior, Bar Charley’s dining room is classic downtown D.C. But step outside onto the patio, and the vibe switches to vacation mode. Pull up a chair alongside the bamboo-paneled walls and choose from a list of “tiki on tap” cocktails. With three-year El Dorado and aged Havana Club, Bar Charley’s Piña Colada Perfecto is strong and fragrant. A homemade coconut-cream puree and fresh pineapple juice make this cocktail ultra-sweet. Served in a traditional tulip glass and topped off with a purple orchid, the drink looks like it’s ready to go poolside. $12. 1825 18th St. NW. 202-627-2183.
New travel restrictions have made it more difficult for U.S. tourists to travel to Cuba, but Colada Shop’s piña colada will transport you to the streets of Havana — at least temporarily. Take a seat at the bar outside the shop’s bright blue storefront, and let thoughts of dreary days in the office leave your mind. The drink arrives in a sturdy lowball glass, topped with toasted coconut shavings that add a touch of texture to an otherwise smooth drink. Bacardi Superior Carta Blanca rum and a house-made coconut cream give it a delicate sweetness, with fresh pineapple juice adding just a hint of fruitiness. $8. 1405 T St. NW. 202-332-8800.
Correction: A previous version of this article said the piña colada at Bar Charley costs $5 at happy hour. The drink is not discounted at happy hour.