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Rum’s Revival

Contributed by

Like an octogenarian who seems to keep getting younger, the venerable tiki drink seems to keep getting more vibrant with every passing year.

Tiki drinks—called “exotics” when invented by Don the Beachcomber in Los Angeles in the mid-1930s—are faux Polynesian cocktails, generally rum-based. Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron took Don’s idea and headed upscale with it in the 1950s. The two of them spawned dozens of imitators and hundreds of rum drinks with pineapple and coconut served in ceramic skulls and tiki heads. The trend petered out in the 1970s but never fully retired and is now gaining new momentum. Tiki drink expert Jeff “Beachbum” Berry has called them “the original post-Prohibition handcrafted cocktail.”


Tiki palaces have long since faded, but tiki-inspired rum drinks have been cropping up in more places.

Smuggler’s Cove opened in December in San Francisco, attracting attention for its rum collection and extensive drink selection. It’s run by Martin Cate, a tiki revivalist (formerly of Forbidden Island in Alameda, California), who has moved beyond strictly tiki to embrace rum in its broader glory. In Brooklyn, Roneria Caracas—a sort of shanty rum bar within an arepas restaurant—opened with premium rums and a lengthy rum cocktail list. And in Manhattan, Ravi DeRossi will open a rum bar this winter above his new Cuban sandwich shop on Sixth Street near his two other bars, Death & Co. and Mayahuel.

Berry says tiki drinks raise the bar for mixologists who’ve mastered the classics, which typically have short recipes. “These are complicated drinks that can take 10 or 12 ingredients,” says Berry, whose forthcoming book, Beachbum Berry Remixed features 43 new tiki drink recipes from bars around the world.  “It’s like taking on a novel rather than a short story.”


Beachbum’s Own

Contributed by: Beachbum Berry, from Beachbum Berry Remixed


  • .75 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • .75 oz Unsweetened pineapple juice
  • .75 oz Orange juice
  • .75 oz Passion fruit purée
  • .75 oz Licor 43
  • 1.25 oz Demerara rum (El Dorado or Lemon Hart)
  • 1.5 oz Light Virgin Island rum (Cruzan or Flor de Cana)
  • Glass: Tiki mug or double old-fashioned


Shake all ingredients well with plenty of crushed ice. Pour unstrained into a Beachbum Berry Mug (pictured) or a double old-fashioned glass.


Tasman Sea

Contributed by: Beachbum Berry, from Beachbum Berry Remixed


  • 1 oz Fresh lime juice
  • .75 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • .25 oz Orange Curacao
  • 1 oz Demerara sugar syrup
  • 1 oz Amber 151-proof Caribbean rum (Cruzan or Bacardi)
  • .5 oz Lemon Hart 151-proof Demerara Rum
  • 10 oz (1.25 cups) Crushed ice
  • Glass: Large snifter or Tiki vessel


Put all the ingredients in a blender. Blend for up to 10 seconds. Pour unstrained into a large snifter or Tiki vessel (pictured).


Wayne Curtis writes about drinks for The Atlantic Monthly and is author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails


Series & Type: History Trends

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