Cuba Libre! – Colada Shop

The perfect spot for a summer evening, Colada Shop offers some creative cocktails and a lively and colorful vibe.

Ambiance: ****

Decor: ****

Service: ****

Cocktails: ***1/2

Overall Rating: 4.00

A few weeks ago I attended the New Chefs on the Block popup event at Mess Hall in DC. One of the bright stars there was Colado Shop, a Cuban cafe which offered delicious breakfast sandwiches and negronis, two of my most favorite things. Additionally, the cafe has a serious cocktail pedigree with Juan Coronado, formerly of Barmini, as a co-0wner. So when I heard Colada has opened last week out in the wilds of Sterling, VA, I decided to make a special afterwork trip out west for a bite in the late summer sun.


I’m glad I came out to Colada for a number of reasons including Cuban sandwiches, platanos, and drinks, but I’m was especially thankful for the opportunity to see Cascades Overlook in Sterling, which was just stunning. The food hub’s modern, SoCal-inspired design and social vibe–along with the late summer weather–brought me back to early evening dinners in California. As for the shop, the design is sleek and clean, with bright azure notes, light wood, and Cuban art adorning the wall. Plentiful outdoor seating makes this a wonderful spring/summer/fall nosh spot – I was lucky enough to visit when a live band was playing. I nodded my head and tapped my toes, enthusiastically.


Colada Shop offers a panoply of Cuban beverages including three cocktails. You can also get granitas, a frozen drink that you can (should) spike with rum – sadly I didn’t get to try one of those. One of the cocktails, the “Cha Cha Cha!” may be my drink of the summer – made with rum, sugar case juice, lime, Palo Santo syrup, and mint, this drink was stunning with a rich, sugary, and fresh pop that took my break away and went down so cool. Balanced with just the right tropical hints, I adored this taste, and only wished I had a blue ocean and whitesand beach to drink it on.

I also enjoyed the “Manicero Negroni” a fearsomely bitter cocktail made with peanut-infused gin, campari, aperol, and sweet vermouth. I’m not the biggest fan of bitter drinks so this took some getting used to, but I did like the surprisingly prominent peanut, which adds a nice herbal, almost oakey musk to it. Not bad. I did very much enjoy the “La Mula” with vodka, ginger, lime, and sugar cane. Mules are all the rage these days and this took a nice turn, with the sugar cane and a sharper ginger giving this a harder hit than most mules. More wood, more sweet, more good. Thanks Colada, see you next time!



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