News flash: Tiki drinks are not just for the warmer weather. Though it’s natural to associate (bamboo) straw-filled Scorpion bowls and flower-garnished idol mugs with tropical vacations, lest us not forgot one very important detail: All. That. Rum. True tiki tipples have a healthy dose of it (or sometimes, Tequila) and often some kind of spicy element, both of which make them as sippable fireside as they are poolside.
“I like to think of tiki drinks as a vacation in a glass,” says Todd Thrasher, owner of the newly opened rum-focused Potomac Distilling Company and bar Tiki TNT at The Wharf. “It helps transport you from any winter doldrums to an entirely different place.”
The first cocktail he ever tasted, in fact, was a classic Mai Tai, which sparked his interest in that style of drink. At Tiki TNT, Dreaming of Crystal Clear Blue Waters ($14) mixes reposado tequila with allspice dram, Don’s Mix, lime and Angostura bitters; Wet Money ($14) features Corazon Blanco Tequila, vodka, blue Curaçao, passion fruit juice and soda water.
“For years I have marveled over South Pacific tiki bars, the types where you pay for your drink with the soggy money stashed in your swimsuit pocket,” Thrasher recalls. “‘Wet money’ is a fun wink to that experience.”
Tiki TNT’s chill beach vibe makes it inviting no matter the season. Stop by and try one of Thrasher’s winter-brightening libations, or if you are holed up in your house hiding from sub-zero wind chills, mix up a batch of the Wet Money at home.
Recipe courtesy of Todd Thrasher, Owner, Potomac Distilling Company and Tiki TNT
- 1 oz. Espolon Blanco Tequila
- 1 oz. Thrashers White Rum
- .25 oz. blue Curaçao
- .5 oz. lemon juice
- 1.5 oz. passion fruit juice
- 2 eye droppers salt water
- Soda water, to top
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake until chilled. Strain and serve in a glass tiki mug over crushed ice.
Here are some other tiki sips to try around town. If these drinks can’t squash the chill and the bleakness right now, trust us: nothing will.
The Royal’s Mambo Diablo ($13) is made with Colombia’s national spirit aguardiente, which lends warming anise notes, plus cachaça, pineapple, guanabana, panela (a Latino unrefined sugar which adds complexity and depth in addition to sweetness) and warming spices. It’s served in a clay cantarito cup over crushed ice and garnished with pineapple fronds and a skewer of brandied cherries.
"The inspiration behind this cocktail was to have something tiki-esque, but with fruits and spices native to Colombia," says bar manager Jake Kenny. "I made a spice blend of things like fennel and Szechuan pepper, which are traditionally paired with fruits like pineapple and guanabana. The end result is this delicious cocktail with winter spices playing off the more tropical fruit flavors.”
The Mole Swizzle ($13) at Jack Rose Dining Saloon combines Two Indies Rum with Cloosterbitter, Amargo de Chile (a spicy Latin-style amaro), housemade bitter Malbec syrup, fresh lime juice and Amaro di Angostura.
At Archipelago, owner Owen Thomson just added a new drink to the menu called Socks, Sandals and a Fannypack ($14), with rhum agricole, tequila, Jagermeister, pear cordial, falernum and lemon. It’s served in a ceramic open shark’s head mug and garnished with a mint sprig.
Service Bar’s aptly named Winter Tiki ($15) mixes Santa Teresa 1796 Rum with Oloroso sherry, cinnamon, bitters, orange juice and lemon.