An introduction to tiki history, what makes a tiki cocktail, and the essential ingredients you'll need for your home tiki bar.
'tiki' on Serious Eats
We're going to drink our way to a tropical place, where the sun beats down, the cocktails have umbrellas, and the pineapples are sweet. Care to join us?
Using bitters as a base instead of an accent goes back awhile—look at the 1939 recipe for Charles H. Baker's Angostura Fizz and you'll also find bitters being measured out to a full ounce. In this take on a gin-based tiki drink, the spicy flavors of Angostura are right at home.
Guests enter Three Dots through a back alley, climb down a dark staircase (with a wall full of skulls staring creepily) and into the tropical basement bar. Half of the menu is made up of classic tiki cocktails, the rest are the creations of Paul McGee, formerly of The Whistler.
A tiki bar is probably not the first thing you think of when imagining Paris drinking destinations, but then again, where would faux-Polynesian seem like the logical theme for a watering hole? The Dirty Dick opened this February, replacing a "hostess bar" (read: brothel) in Pigalle, a neighborhood in transition from red-light district to trendy cocktailing destination.
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. And now, 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.
When you enter Smuggler's Cove on Gough Street in San Francisco, it's as if you're inside a ship, decked out with ropes and fishing buoys, lanterns and ancient bottles of rum. But when you're done gawking, there's a decision to be made—what to drink? There are 75 different cocktails on the menu, so we reached out to bartender Steven Liles for a little help.
Head just two doors down from The Passenger in Washington, DC, and you'll be greeted by the giant face of Bill Murray's Steve Zissou. Step inside, pay your respects to Zombie Elvis on your immediate left, and you'll find the new rum bar by the brothers Tom and Derek Brown (of The Passenger). Hogo is your opportunity to explore the Caribbean vicariously through Tom's ever-growing collection of more than 80 different rums and a bevy of Caribbean inspired cocktails.
Don's Mix is the perfect project for the passing of the seasons. The smell of sugar and cinnamon bubbling on the stove will make you feel ready for all things autumnal. Grapefruit, a perfect citrus for summer by the sea, will also remind you that the day will come, mid-December, when, if you are lucky, you'll look down and find a box of seasonal citrus on your door.
We love new, creative cocktails, but sometimes you just want one of the classics. In this video, we learn how to make the grandfather of all tiki drinks: the Mai Tai.
Falernum is indispensable in Tiki drinks, brightening the sour notes of citrus and adding a hint of rich spice. But it also plays well with slightly bitter flavors. If you're at all interested in Tiki cocktails, this stuff is a must-have for your home bar. It can be a little tricky to track down commercially, but it turns out that it's super-easy to make at home.
Cocktail geeks have been going nuts for orgeat (pronounced "or-zsa," like Zsa Zsa Gabor) for ages, but there's a reason you don't see it in many home bars: the good stuff is hard to find. But making your own high-quality orgeat with all-natural ingredients takes 15 minutes work and costs about $6.
It wouldn't be a proper Tiki Week without drinks. Here are the recipes for nine of our favorites, including the Scorpion, the Mai Tai, the Test Pilot, and more.
This week saw the release of a new book from cocktail historian and cultural anthropologist Jeff Berry: Beachbum Berry Remixed. A compilation of the (mostly) vintage recipes included in Berry's first two books, Beachbum Berry's Grog Log and Intoxica!, Remixed revisits and updates these earlier works, while sweetening the Scorpion Bowl with an extra 107 new drink recipes.
Today, with our global financial turmoil and engagement in more wars overseas, more people may be searching for good, old-fashioned escapism. As Felten writes, today "there's a new allure to the escape it promises. What are we escaping now? The financial woes may be the best excuse of the moment, but tiki provides an escape somewhat more fundamental, a vacation from the everyday, even if today's bears little resemblance to the everyday of the '50s."
©iStockphoto.com/ Graffizone In Sunday’s New York Times, drinks writer Jonathan Miles pulls up a chair at Elettaria and gets friendly with that timeless tiki tipple, the Navy Grog. He’s hardly alone. As has recently been noted by writers ranging from...