Serious Eats: Drinks
The Best Tiki Drinks in Portland, OR
When most people think tiki, they probably don't think of grey and rainy Portland, OR. But they should! Tiki is, at its core, escapist. It's also retro and surreal-bordering-on-strange. Portland folks need a little escape, and they welcome with open arms all things vintage and especially all things peculiar.
In fact, tiki has long had a home in PDX, thanks to a few dear, departed (and much storied) hotel bars that ruled the downtown Portland bar scene in the early 50's, such as Kon-Tiki and the Aloha Room at the Heathman Hotel. In the late 60's and 70's, as tiki sank from ultra chic to chintzy and déclassé, one by one, these of temples of tropicalia fell by the wayside. Today, only the Abili—a fantastically divey holdover—remains alongside a branch of the Trader Vic's chain.
But, young champions of all things mai tai have brought together craft cocktail methods and the dreamlike world of the tiki bar, most successfully at southeast Portland cocktail paradise, the Rum Club, and northeast's totally-tiki Hale Pele. The Rum Club isn't strictly tiki, though they have a terrific selection of rum-based cocktails, and an off-the-menu (but always available) Mai Tai that is an absolute must-order. A bit north, the almost maniacally tiki Hale Pele is owned by Blair Reynolds, a local tiki enthusiast and maker of small batch tropical drink syrups. From blowfish lanterns and flaming volcano bowls to hourly "tropical rainstorms", this is the real deal. And at around $10 a drink at either bar, it's the most affordable vacation you'll ever take.
Check out the slideshow for our picks—the best tiki drinks you can drink in Portland, Oregon.