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Cue “Mele Kalikimaka” on the stereo. Starting on November 23rd, tiki bar Archipelago will become a flashy Christmas wonderland. Partners Owen Thomson, Ben Wiley, and Joe Ambrose are bringing the Sippin’ Santa pop-up series to D.C.
Sippin’ Santa launched in 2015 out ofBoilermakerin New York City as a partner to the Miracle pop-up bar series. Wiley describes Sippin’ Santa as the “tiki alternative,” to Miracle, and it will launch in ten other cities this year. One of the legendary revolutionizers of tiki, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, is on board to guide the cocktail menu. “We are still the only tiki bar in D.C., so connecting on some level to other tiki bars in the country, it’s fun to be a little bit more involved,” Thomson says.
Sippin’ Santa creates a framework for the menu and provides some glassware (think surfing Santas), but Archipelago will be putting its own stamp on the drinks as well. They’ll continue to make many of their ingredients in house, including cranberry syrup, creme de cacao, and falernum. “When in doubt, we slipped a little Chartreuse in there,” Wiley says. “That’s pretty Christmasy.”
The pop-up will essentially function like a tap takeover, so the full regular cocktail menu may not always be available, but the bartenders are hoping to expose regular customers to new flavors and expand upon what tiki culture encompasses. There may even be some hot tiki drinks. Most of the regular food menu will be available.
Archipelago’s usual island spirit will still be on full display, but they’ll also deck the halls. “We’re definitely Christmas tiki-ing the hell out of this place, making this a fun, festive environment,” Thomson says.
The team never predicted that they’d get on the holiday pop-up train but the U Street NW bar has held some events in the past such as a Vietnamese food pop-up and a last-minute metal show.
According to Thomson, their first foray into an official, extended pop-up is “a fun thing to do in December when business is kind of wonky anyway.”
Sippin’ Santa will run from Nov. 23 through Dec. 23, and as an added bonus, Archipelago will be open seven days a week during its run. Check the bar’s social media for updates on drinks and decor.
Archipelago, 1201 U St. NW; (202) 627-0794; archipelagobardc.com