DC
08/02/2012 03:45 pm ET

Oyamel's Happy Hour Is A Penn Quarter Delight (PHOTOS)

Brandon Wetherbee

WASHINGTON -- With the August doldrums in full swing, the downtown happy hour scene will be a little less crowded. The blistering heat will make day drinking seem like a good idea.

Your out-of-town friends will visit and want to stop at one of the Smithsonian museums or the International Spy Museum or National Museum of Crime and Punishment because they like "C.S.I." You're going to need a drink -- somewhere preferably in Penn Quarter.

Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, owned by we-wish-he-was-our-friend chef José Andrés may be the ideal happy hour venue for tourist and local alike.

The heavily-trafficked location, at 7th and D streets NW, allows customers to gaze out multiple windows at staffers coming home from Capitol Hill, teenagers running amok on their way to Chinatown and lost families from all corners of the globe looking at their respective maps and tour books. The sun lands perfectly on the place in the late afternoon, giving the outside a pleasant, cinematic vibe.

Oyamel's small-plate modern Mexican cuisine is exciting enough for a foodie but familiar enough for the biggest Taco Bell fan. On a recent visit, we enjoyed pork tacos. A corn tortilla held excellent Yucatan-style pit-barbecued pork. The pink pickled onions may scare away some, but they can be easily removed. (But we would never do this. Ever.)

There's no secret to making great cocktails, all a bar needs to do is mix top-quality ingredients that compliment each other. Oyamel uses high-end ingredients but doesn't go overboard.

We enjoyed the La Rosa Ponche, a pink drink. We tend to stay away from pink drinks because they're usually full of cheap vodka and enough sugar to make one become an instant diabetic. But this pink drink is different, fusing Azul Centenario blanco tequila, St. Germain, raspberry, citrus and coriander-infused honey. A dash of Dos Equis lager gives this cocktail it a welcome twist.

Oyamel is open for happy hour Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Reservations aren't required but be prepared for a crowded bar. Interested parties should try to get there as close to 4 p.m. as possible. Seats fill up fast!

Click below to see our drinks, dish and inside of Oyamel.

Oyamel Cocina Mexicana

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