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Posted at 12:09 PM ET, 04/ 6/2007

Helix Lounge Closes, and a New Margarita Arrives

By Fritz Hahn

Helix Lounge's trippy patio, sweet cocktails and budget-saving All-American Happy Hour have earned it a legion of fans since it opened in 2002, but change is in the air: The Hotel Helix's popular bar will be closed for the next two weeks for a complete makeover.

"After five years, it was getting a little tired," explains Sarah Crocker of Kimpton Hotels, adding that everything is being redone, from the floor to the bar to the coverings on furniture. Once the lounge is up and running, the menus will be freshened up with new food items and cocktails, though details are still up in the air at this point.

Speaking of cocktails at Kimpton hotels, I stopped into Firefly the other night to sample the bar's cherry mojito, which honors the National Cherry Blossom Festival. It's sweet and refreshing -- picture a regular mojito with rum-soaked bing cherries muddled along with the mint -- but what really grabbed my attention was the Agave Azul. I'm ready to declare this margarita the best in town.

Bar manager/mixologist Will Earls, who's had stints in New Orleans and his hometown of Austin, Texas, uses top-shelf Patron Silver tequila and Patron Citronge, cilantro-infused simple syrup and a touch of Blue Curacao for color, served up in a salted-rim martini glass. Smooth and perfectly balanced, the drink has just enough bite to keep things interesting, and the cilantro adds a slight herbal complexity. It goes down easy, so watch out.

This is a grown-up drink at a grown-up price: $13 each. Yes, you can get a margarita for less than half of that at any number of happy hours on the Hill, but once you've tried the Agave Azul, you'll never look at those headache-inducing "cocktails" the same way again.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | April 6, 2007; 12:09 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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Myself and a girlfriend attempted to go to the Helix and was very disappointed that it was closed. So, we then went to the Firefly as well. My girlfriend thought the Cherry Blossom was kind of light weight. But the Azul was straight up, I recommend it for those who like their drinks dead on.

Posted by: Hapsutra | April 9, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I love the Helix Bar and cannot wait for it to reopen with a new & fresh look. I hear they are doing fine things over there on Rhode Island Avenue and with the hot days ahead of us, the patio is a great spot for Happy Hour! If you haven't been you must go. The staff is amazing and the bartender AJ has a smashing personality. Can't wait to sip the summer Pajama Party drink!

Posted by: MJ | April 11, 2007 9:56 AM | Report abuse

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