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Posted at 4:48 PM ET, 04/22/2009

Coming Soon: Tiki Drinks in Georgetown

By Fritz Hahn

When people ask me "What do you wish we had in D.C.?" my answer is pretty unequivocal: A tiki bar.

Ever since the Honolulu Restaurant and Yenching Palace closed their doors, there's been a paucity of D.C. bars serving flaming drinks and tropical concoctions. Sure, the Gibson makes an incredible authentic mai tai (based on Trader Vic's original recipe) and PX turns out glorious rum grogs, but no one would argue that either was close to a tiki bar.

But now there's some great news: By the middle of summer, we should be sipping mai tais and rum runners outdoors at the Georgetown waterfront.

Agraria, the Washington Harbour restaurant that's owned and run by the North Dakota Farmers Union, will be getting a facelift over the next month, according to marketing director Jennifer Motruk Loy. Key among the changes: "a new menu and a new bar program," which will be run by former Urbana mixologist Kevin Rogers. Rogers says he's been immersing himself in classic mai tais, scorpion bowls, planter's punch, fog cutters and other retro rum drinks. He says he wants to have the largest rum selection in the city and jokes about making frozen margaritas and serving them up on the large patio that surrounds the Harbour's central fountain. (Somehow, I imagine that could become the most popular spot in town.)

Rogers expects his tiki bar to be in full swing by the end of May.

For those who are fans of Agraria and its sister restaurant Founding Farmers, Motruk Loy says "the food will be very much of the same ilk," with a menu that nods to American regional dishes -- think Napa Valley or the New England seashore -- while still relying on ingredients from local and regional farms and fisheries.

Unfortunately, while we'll have a wide selection of drinks to choose from, we won't be sipping navy grog while sitting in some Polynesian paradise full of tiki heads and tall rattan charis. "The decor of the restaurant won't change too much," Motruk Loy says. "We're making it a little more casual, and we'll soften it up a bit. But we're not going to pack up Founding Farmers and bring it over here."

Okay, so it won't be Honolulu or Trader Vic's. But if Rogers, who has proven to be a very good bartender, and the team at Agraria can give me a reliable place to enjoy a mai tai and the summer sun, I will be a very happy man indeed.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | April 22, 2009; 4:48 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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Comments

You can get your mai tai on now. The Chans (former owners of the Honolulu) sell their mai tai mix online at time2tiki.com and in a few local outlets. It's a great approximation - but you have to supply your own Leis and Luau music. Would be perfect for the glorious weekend we're expecting.

[I'm not a publicist, just a long time fan.]

Posted by: Honolululover | April 23, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

What happened to the tiki bar in northeast? Just outside the redline stop near Comcast, I think?

Posted by: esmerelda123 | April 23, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Island Jim's Crab Shack and Tiki Bar. Outside CUA/Brookland Metro. Fabulous place and the real deal. I'm disappointed in you, Fritz. Northeast is still DC, and a stone's throw from public transport at that, at 911 Monroe.

Posted by: esmerelda123 | April 23, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

You're talking about the Tiki Bar next to Colonel Brook's Tavern, and that's the first place I thought of when I saw this article. It's on Monroe Street, just up from the Brookland/CUA Metro station. I haven't been there since I graduated, but I'm pretty sure it still exists.

And while I can't speak for the food or specialty drinks, the atmosphere is great. There's even a little area of sand and palm trees that makes you completely forget you're in the middle of DC. Great spot.

Posted by: MartinLocraft | April 23, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

If you are looking for GREAT tiki drinks, try Kwok Cheng's "Shanghai Village" at 4929 Bethesda Ave, in Bethesda. The navy grogs are fantastic - the mai tais, very authentic. I like 'em better than Mr. Chan's Honolulu, and way better than the mix.

Mr. Kwok makes a great duck too.

It's not Tiki decor though, but the drinks are unmatched, IMHO.

Posted by: mr_gapearce | April 28, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

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