What started as an idea for a rum pop-up has become a permanent, palm-printed bar called Tiki on 18th. The tropical space opens on Saturday night and will serve its first all-day tiki brunch on Sunday.
There’s plenty of eclectic talent on board, including partners Jonathan Peterson, co-founder of Rum Day DC; Saab Harrison (a former Service Bar bartender); and Jo-Jo Valenzuela, co-owner of The Game, a great Filipino restaurant-meets-sports bar below the tiki spot. Service Bar co-owner Glendon Hartley also consulted on the project.
Tikis, tacos, and grilled skewers are the focus of the intimate 36-seat space, which has more room for standing plus a small patio for a dozen-odd guests. The opening drink list includes eight $12 cocktails—each with entertaining descriptions—including a classic 1933 Mai Tai (“Dancing naked on the beach!”) and not-so-classic rum old-fashioned (“Drunken Caribbean beach cruise with a stop in South America”). Instead of frozen drink machines, barkeeps will blend frosty libations to-order like the “Missionary’s Downfall,” a refreshing concoction with rum, peach, pineapple, and fresh mint. For something boozier, the team is planning rotating rum, tequila, and mezcal flights.
Valenzuela is moving away from Filipino fare for the tiki bar, though you’ll still find some pinoy influence in the marinated and grilled pork belly, chicken, and veggie skewers. The small menu also includes three styles of tacos: veggie, Baja mahi-mahi, and Hawaiian-style kalua pork. Rounding out the offerings are snacks like chips and dips or Mexican street corn. For all-day brunch, the team plans to offer dishes like enchiladas, tostadas, and breakfast tacos alongside quaffable daytime tikis.
Pearl Madryga of Minneapolis-based design firm Roam is behind the look, which includes palm prints, live greenery, and plenty of wicker.
“It’s meant for you to come in and feel like an escape to paradise,” says Peterson.
For now the bar is only open Thursday through Sunday, though Peterson says they’re looking to expand to Wednesdays starting in the fall.
Tiki on 18th. 2411 18th St., NW. Open Thursday through Saturday, 6 PM to 1 AM. Sunday brunch noon to 8 PM.