Photos By Clarissa Villondo, Words By Brandon Wetherbee
Want to get away? Yes, you want to get out of D.C. You want to be not in D.C. You might want to be on a beach. A far away beach. Drinking tropical drinks. Well, you can’t do that. You have work. You need to go to work because bills exist and if you don’t pay them you don’t get to live where you live. And tropical drinks on tropical beaches are watered down and suck. But you can stay in D.C. and drink good tropical drinks. It’s a compromise.
Warm weather means the Jack Rose Tiki Bar is reopened. The small, third floor bar within a bar is the somewhat companion bar to the small, basement bar within a bar at Jack Rose, Dram & Grain. Unlike the basement bar, you’ll most likely be able to get a seat at the Tiki Bar. And you’ll be able to enjoy their very good “Tiki Thursdays” happy hour, which runs from 5 to 9 p.m. and features 1/2 prices cocktails and bites.
We tasted each of the four new cocktails. They serve different roles, fulfilling all of the tropical drink needs you could possibly want. Except weak. None of them are weak.
For the person that wants a blue drink: Bitter Blue Hawaiian
This is what you think of when you think of tiki drinks. It’s so blue. That may be why it’s served in a clear glass rather than a Tiki glass. Made with Cava Brava Rum, ‘Bittered’ Blue Curacao infused with gentian root and dried bitter orange peel, pineapple, coconut cream and lime, it’s complicated enough that you’ll never make it at home and blue enough to make it seasonally appropriate.
For the person looking for a spicy Tiki: The Jerk
The Jerk uses Tabasco as bitters. It’s also way more booze forward than the Bitter Blue Hawaiian. Made with Hamilton Jamaican Rum, a house jerk spice syrup and lime, the jerk spice really stands out. It’s modeled after a Ti Punch, it’s what you’d expect from a Jack Rose cocktail.
For the person looking for a smooth Tiki: Velvet Dreamsicle
This is a well named cocktail. Made with Cotton & Reed White Rum, house Creamsicle Oleo, Velvet Falernum and lime, you will never try to make this drink. It sounds simple, but good luck batching some Creamsicle Olea. Another fine cocktail that fits the Tiki theme in ingredients but elevates it to a much higher level.
For the person looking for the most Tiki Tiki: Banango Tango
If you’re ordering a Tiki drink, go full Tiki. That means the silliest name and the Tiki glass and rum and a bunch other other stuff. So the winner is the Banango Tango. It’s got rum. It’s got a bunch of other ingredients that hide the rum so it doesn’t taste like you’re drinking alcohol. It’s got the dumbest name. It’s the only Tiki drink you need if you only want one Tiki drink.
In addition to the new drinks is a new menu for the Tiki bar. If you’re with friends (and you really should be because Tiki drinks are for friends but if you’re the brave individual that wants a sugary drink in the company of one, more power to you), order the fried pig ears. Vegetarian friends? Fresh guacamole. None of your friends are hungry? Salmon poke.
Beer director Nahem Simon has curated a selection of Hawaiian and fruity beers as well.
The Tiki Bar at Jack Rose is open Thursdays from 5 p.m. to close and Fridays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to last call, unless otherwise announced on social media. Go early on Thursdays. It’s one of the best happy hours in D.C.