Eight D.C. bars are capitalizing on locals’ seemingly uncontrollable desire to pound tropical drinks all summer long by charting a tiki-themed crawl designed to fill seats during a historically down time.
Brian Nixon, the bar manager at two of the participating venues (Truxton Inn and McClellan’s Retreat), helped orchestrate the new month-long promotion, dubbed Tiki Trail. “It’s an easy thing to put together for a slower month in the city,” he says.
McClellan’s Retreat goes the tiki route every August anyway, so Nixon figured he’d ask “a few friends” who have similarly boarded the tiki train to get in on the fun. Thinner crowds means there’s more time behind the bar to invest in making juices and syrups for the typically fruity beverages, he adds.
Here’s how it works: Drinkers pick up a treasure map at any of the participating locations, which also includes the Passenger/Hogo, Archipelago, Cotton and Reed, Quarter and Glory, Service Bar DC, and the Good Silver, then get it stamped after downing featured cocktails at each bar.
At sister bar McClellan’s, he admits they may have gone “over the top” this year — creating a beach-side retreat with tons of leis, straw, and thatch disguising the brick walls. A big tropical seller is Sunrise Over Barcelona ($11), with Wint Gin, passion fruit, lemon, coconut cream, and bitters.
Many of the festive drinks on the stop also appear on Eater DC’s list of Top Cocktails to Drink Right Now.
The trail culminates in a secret celebratory luau on Sunday, September 3. The undisclosed location will be revealed via a series of clues provided to participants at each spot. And there’s prizes for the first 20 people to complete the Tiki Trail and those sporting the best luau attire.
There are “real long walks” between a few of the stops, but much of the map can be walked, Nixon says. His suggested plan of attack: start at Cotton and Reed by Union Market, hop a cab to Truxton, then stumble to the remaining watering holes from there.
Nixon’s also doubling as a party planner; he already got a message from someone thanking him for inadvertently planning a birthday party bar crawl courtesy of the foolproof map.
“I’m glad to help out,” he says. “It’s what I’d want to do if my birthday was this month.”
Meanwhile, the new Truxton Inn’s expansion plans are on hold. Nixon says he got city approval for an outdoor patio but he now needs to lower the fence and might wait until next season to furnish the entire thing.