What: Ohana Happy Hour at Adrift
Where: Adrift, 218 South Broadway, Denver
When: Tuesday – Saturday 4-6 p.m.
Neighborhood: South Broadway Baker
Pros: Every cocktail and happy hour dish is a flavor explosion
Cons: The usual parking nightmare that is South Broadway
Like most unpredictable months of Denver weather, March brings its own mix of confusion. With 72 degree days quickly interrupted by blustery below-freezing temperatures, it can be hard to remember what season we’re even in anymore. If you find yourself longing for those beach-like, endless summer days, pop into Adrift for happy hour for a pseudo-escape to the beach.
Cozied up to the bustling businesses along South Broadway, the newly-revamped Adrift is an experience all its own. If the word “tiki” conjures up feelings of cheap coconut bras and overly-sweet drinks, let Adrift set the record straight for you—authentic Polynesian and tiki-laden culture is anything but.
“Tiki is a complex thing, and we’ve learned a lot about Polynesian culture,” Paul Tamburello, the restaurant’s new co-owner (of Little Man Ice Cream) explained. “That’s what got me interested in this project. It’s not just another restaurant, when you come here you’re transformed to a different place.”
He’s right. Adrift is adorned ceiling-to-floor in thoughtful touches, from an intricate bamboo bar to lights shaped like blowfish and an outdoor patio with lava rock. The happy hour menu is the key to true teleportation, though.
The happy hour menu is packed with island twists on old happy hour favorites, like their Pele Chicken Wings marinated in a jerk brine ($1 each) and Guava BBQ Back Ribs slathered in a coriander-citrus glaze ($2 each). One of our favorites, the Curry Rice Bowl with pork or tofu ($10) is inspired by “family meal” that the staff eats together each evening. If you came looking for poke, you’re still in the right place. Their beautiful display is presented to each guest under a glass with dry ice. The menu manages to be approachable with authenticity still intact by utilizing fresh, Polynesian ingredients.
But, it is happy hour at a tiki bar, and the Adrift team knows you came to drink. Beverage Manager Maggie Yarbrough is there to make sure she eliminates any preconceived notions you’ve ever had about tiki beverages.
“Tiki is one of the oldest movements in cocktails, all the way back to the ’30s,” Yarbrough explained. “There’s a misconception that all tiki has to be sweet, and that’s not the case. Tiki can be for anyone, our drink menu was designed for any palate.”
With more than 65 different types of rum, 12 tiki cocktails and a handful of frozen beverages, there is something for everyone. The cocktails are arranged in order of sweetness for easy navigation, and each of the tiki cocktails is $2 off during happy hour on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Yarbrough said her favorite of the moment is the White Wave, with gin, apricot brandy, lemon and coconut ($8). It pairs incredibly with the serrano peppers in the Pele Chicken Wings. We loved the Suffering Bastard, a fun take on a Moscow Mule with gin, brandy, lime, demerara sugar, ginger beer and bitters ($8). If craft cocktails aren’t your thing, sip on $3 bayside beers, but we suggest talking to the bartenders and taking a chance.
All photography by Brittany Werges.