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Archipelago co-owner Owen Thomson has been whittling away at the second floor of his bar on U Street NW and likely has the splinters to prove it. Dubbed “Lost Island,” the new lounge is finally open for the public on Friday and Saturday nights. It has the “old school tiki” feel he’s always wanted to offer D.C.
“We can get so much more decor per square foot,” Thomson says. Too many windows downstairs prohibited the team from covering every square inch with island ornamentation. “The thing about tiki is it ends up being more about the environment than anything else,” he continues. “We’re trying to set a different tone in that space. It’s laid back and chill, if it’s possible for us to be more chill.”
Archipelago’s downstairs space can be a great place to roll up with 20 friends and push tables around for hours of revelry and piña coladas, but smaller groups can reserve tables for Lost Island on reservations platform RESY.
Lost Island also has its own menu. “It’s a little more classic tiki or our versions of those drinks,” Thomson says. “There still is no other real tiki bar in D.C., so people’s exposure to the classic style of drinks is still pretty low.”
You can try a Fog Cutter with rum, gin, brandy, orgeat, and sherry; a Jungle Bird with two types of rum, Campari, and pineapple; and a Macadamia Chi Chi with vodka, coconut, and macadamia nuts. A number of other drinks star Scotch instead of rum, including the Firth Sling with Scotch, pineapple, cherry heering (brandy), and lime.
“Sometimes people who really like the old-school stuff think that it should be frozen in time,” Thomson says. “But Don The Beachcomber, those guys, would use any tool they had to effectuate their own creative little world.” Don The Beachcomber, America’s original tiki bar, opened in Hollywood, California in the 1930s.
“The only reason they didn’t put mezcal in drinks is because they didn’t have it,” Thomson continues. “The reason no one made a paw paw tiki drink in the 1960s was because they couldn’t get it. Those guys used everything they could.” Thomson says with the Scotch-based drinks at Lost Island, he’s applying the principles of how tiki drinks are constructed and incorporating new ingredients.
The same food menu from downstairs is available upstairs. Thomson says they may expand operations from Fridays and Saturday nights to include some weeknights depending on demand.
Archipelgo is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 5 p.m. to midnight; Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m.; and Sundays from 5 p.m. to midnight.
Lost Island at Archipelago; 1201 U St. NW; (202) 627-0794; archipelagobardc.com