Piña coladas are more often appreciated by Banana Boat–slathered sun seekers than serious cocktail connoisseurs. That’s a shame, says DGS Delicatessen Beverage Director Brian Zipin, because “the piña colada along with the Mai Tai are the two greatest drinks in the world, in my opinion—except for Manhattans.” Zipin and a number of other top bartenders around D.C. are revisiting the tropical tipple this summer, using freshly squeezed juices and other unique flourishes. Here are three places to indulge your inner beach bum while still feeling like a sophisticated drinker.
Doi Moi/2 Birds 1 Stone
Bar Manager Adam Bernbach’s long-standing piña colada at 2 Birds 1 Stone recently migrated upstairs to sister restaurant Doi Moi as one of a dozen new tiki-inspired drinks. His current version combines daily juiced pineapple with white and light brown sugar, coconut milk, and fresh lime juice. The mixture is put through a siphon, which adds a slight frizzante quality, before it’s combined with El Dorado Rum. Bernbach switches up the ingredients throughout the year, sometimes using roasted pineapple or an aged rum that he infuses with vanilla, cinnamon, and toasted black pepper.
This frozen piña colada is served out of a refurbished 1960s Airstream trailer parked in front of Union Market. Owner Gina Chersevani’s plastic cup cocktail includes cold-pressed pineapple juice, Thai coconut milk or young baby coconut (depending on availability), cardamom simple syrup, Flor de Caña rum, and Caña Brava rum. If you’re not a purist, get it swirled with one of Suburbia’s other frozen cocktails, which have recently included a mint julep, blackberry daiquiri, and grapefruit margarita.
This Dupont Circle Jewish deli recently debuted its piña colada for a one-off “Summer in the Catskills”-themed cocktail menu, but the drink is sticking around for the summer. Zipin combines fresh pineapple with lime, El Dorado Spiced Rum, Cruzan Coconut Rum, and angostura bitters over ice, then garnishes it with caramelized grilled pineapple. “If you use good ingredients, all these old cocktails are delicious,” Zipin says.
Suburbia photo by Jessica Sidman. Doi Moi photo by Adam Bernbach, DGS Delicatessen photo courtesy DGS Delicatessen.