Strange like, say, a bar whose upstairs area doubles as a small museum featuring mummified heads, desiccated mythological creatures, crystal skulls, and other bizarre memorabilia? There’s also the weekly lineup of vaudeville, burlesque, and circus acts you won’t be able to catch anywhere else. “We’re DC’s mecca for freaks and the people who love them,” says a proud Jerez, who’s been working there almost two years.
Before landing a job at the Palace of Wonders, Jerez, whose previous work experience was in retail, had never been behind the bar.
“I was thrown into the fire in a brand-new bar—one of the first to open in the Atlas District,” she says. “I had no choice but to learn the drinks and make ’em fast and good.”
Not long after, Jerez and owner Erik Bergman, who also owns Tonic and Radius, were drafting the bar’s unique cocktail menu, themed around the more popular performers. There’s the Corn-Mo Mosa, a variation of a brass monkey made with Triple Sec and malt liquor, which is named after accordion player Corn Mo and his band, .357 Lover. The Prissy Pistol, a sour-apple martini topped with a splash of pineapple, is named after Jerez herself. “It’s supersweet, strong, sexy, and smooth—like me,” she jokes.
Then there’s the Cheeky Monkey Punch, by far the most popular drink at the Palace of Wonders. Named after the Cheeky Monkey Sideshow, one of the longest-running shows at the bar, the drink is a lethal combination of banana and coconut rums mixed with pineapple and orange juices and topped with blue curaçao. “The guys from the Cheeky Monkey Sideshow are some of the nicest people and most amazing performers I’ve ever met,” says Jerez. “So I wanted to make a drink that best described them.”
Watch our video of Jerez making a Cheeky Monkey, and we’ve also included the recipe so you can make it at home.
Cheeky Monkey Punch
Priscilla Jerez, the Palace of Wonders
½ shot Bacardi rum
½ shot Malibu Banana
1 shot Malibu Coconut
4 ounces of pineapple juice
4 ounces of orange juice
Splash of cranberry juice
Splash of blue curaçao
Mix all ingredients and top with a drizzle of Myers’s dark rum. Garnish with lime or orange slice, a cherry, an umbrella, and a lil’ monkey.