Need proof that the tiki trend still is going strong? Take a look at the parrot-festooned raft of new tiki and tropical-inspired bars that have opened over the last 18 months—with more still to come. Stroll through this tiki bar timeline—some of which are full-on tropical, and others that have strong tropical drink lists—to find where to get your aloha on all summer long.
Image: Gin Palace
1. Mother of Pearl (New York, NY)
Opening Date: Anticipated late May or early June 2015 Aloha Bona Fides: Located in the East Village space that formerly housed Gin Palace (which closed because it was sinking into the ground and extensive reconstruction was needed), Mother of Pearl will open as a “tiki-influenced” bar helmed by Amor y Amargo’s Sother Teague. The drink list has been described as “Postmodern Polynesian,” with plenty of rum and nods to tiki.
Opening Date: April 2015 Aloha Bona Fides: Located within Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, look for drinks like the Polynesian Pearl and Castaway Crush, plus drinks imported from the original Anaheim outpost, like the Krakatoa Punch and HippopotoMai-Tai. Cheery collectible tiki mugs are on hand, of course. It’s a sprawling operation, seating 50 at the lounge inside, plus another 82 on the patio.
Opening Date: January 2015 Aloha Bona Fides: Run by bartending vet Paul McGee, formerly of lauded Three Dots and a Dash, with a rum list curated by Martin Cate of San Francisco tiki haven Smuggler’s Cove, the bar describes itself as a “tropical oasis-meets-flotsam-strewn island hut” that channels the “rugged nautical aesthetic of the original Don’s Beachcomber Cafe. Drinks pay homage to tiki classics, though there are plenty of new creations, including the Coconut Grove Cooler (Scotch, passion fruit, pomegranate, pineapple and lemon juices).
Opening Date: December 2014 Aloha Bona Fides: Although it’s not a tiki bar, the group behind the Forest Hills venture includes vets from the bar formerly known as Painkiller and Dutch Kills. Bring on drinks like the Kon-Tiki Mai Tai (rum, absinthe, fresh juices, ginger syrup) and enormous Scorpion Bowls. The dark wood walls are hung with travel souvenirs like Indonesian masks and maracas from Cuba.
Opening Date: October 2014 Aloha Bona Fides: This hotly anticipated new bar and restaurant was conceived and spearheaded by writer and tiki guru Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and is located within the French Quarter’s Hotel Bienville. Head bartender Steve Yamada oversees the drinks, which span from Mai Tais and other classics to more adventurous undertakings, including “communal drinks” like the Aquadesiac, intended for two to share (gold Barbados rum, blue curaçao, Bénédictine, lemon, almond and caraway, served in a shell-like vessel).
Opening Date: October 2014 Aloha Bona Fides: Though it’s not a tiki bar, it sure looks like one, decked out with palm frond wallpaper meant to evoke mid-century Florida and California resorts; beach-y knickknacks on the wall (boats, seashells, flamingo figurines); and golden pineapples tucked in along the back bar. Garret Richard, host-creator of the Brooklyn Luau, is behind the bar, transforming tiki classics like swizzles into frozen drinks. And shhh, don’t tell anyone about “Slowly Shirley,” a newly opened lounge beneath the bar.
Opening Date: August 2014 Aloha Bona Fides: From Suzanne Long, former bar manager at Alameda’s Forbidden Island, this space has been lauded for the dazzling tropical-themed interior, full of lush greens and bamboo—even an East African thatched hut. Plus, there’s an ambitious menu of tiki drinks, like the Black Orchid (flambeed rum cordial, Angostura 7 Year Old rum and citrus, garnished with an orchid and freshwater pearl).
Opening Date: February 2014 Aloha Bona Fides: It’s an offspring of Los Angeles’s oldest tiki-themed watering hole: the iconic Tonga Hut in North Hollywood, built in 1958. Bigger than the original, the new desert outpost features mid-century décor, vintage Polynesian collectibles, and plenty of classic tiki drinks. Unlike the original, there’s also a full menu of Polynesian and Cantonese food—and a speakeasy-ish secret tiki room, entered through a PDT-style phone booth.
Opening Date: January 2014 Aloha Bona Fides: This “urban tiki” bar near Jax Beach prides itself on having plenty of rum and minimal kitsch. A sister bar to the chill, equally cocktail-centric Sidecar, look for trivia nights, live music and drinks like the Santiago and Dunbar (Kappa Pisco, Fidencio Mezcal, Yellow Chartreuse, pineapple, lime and Abbott’s Bitters, intended for two people).
Kara Newman is a New York–based spirits and cocktail writer, and author of Cocktails for a Crowd (Chronicle Books).