Tiki bars are back in a big way, and there’s no shortage of places to get your fix. From New York City to Los Angeles, with a few surprising stops in between, here are 9 spots that will whisk you away to a tropical paradise via an umbrella-bedecked rum-cocktail express.
To say Smuggler’s Cove owner Martin Cate is passionate about rum would be a serious understatement. The menu at his Bay Area bar offers more than 400 bottles of the sugar-based spirit as well as 70+ cocktails that all offer their own little taste of the tropics.
650 Gough St., San Francisco; 415-869-1900
Under the dim glow of puffer fish lanterns and the watchful eye of wooden tiki totems, this Portland cocktail den makes up for what it lacks in size by going big on fresh tropical island tastes with fresh-squeezed juices, specialty syrups and of course, oversized, flaming rum drinks.
2733 NE Broadway, Portland, Oregon; 503-281-8454
Years in the planning, Paul McGee’s Chicago temple of tiki opened in 2013 and has been packed to the brim every night since. The menu is built around classics like the Mai Tai and Pearl Diver, but purists will appreciate the bars collection of more than 200 fine rums from around the world.
465 N. Clark St., Chicago; 312-610-4220
In 1961, Ray Buhen—one of the original 1934 Don The Beachcomber's bartenders—opened his own place in East Hollywood. Today, Ray’s son Michael and two grandsons, Mike and Mark carry on the torch of this late tiki great’s legendary Los Angeles drink den with more than 75 tropical libations, most of which Ray himself helped popularize.
4427 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles; 323-669-9381
Step into Forbidden Island and prepare to be transported to a perfectly kitschy tiki territory from the ’50s and ’60s—a dimly lit world complete with thatched bamboo huts, glowing puffer fish and velvet Tahitian paintings. With a cocktail menu originally designed by rum man Martin Cate, Forbidden Island’s drinks run the tiki gamut from classic to contemporary, made with fresh-squeezed juices, housemade syrups and Bay Area spirits. And before you leave, write your name on a dollar bill and tack it to the ceiling—it’s an old Navy tradition signaling you’ll be back again.
1304 Lincoln Ave., Alameda, California; 510-749-0332
Housed inside the Mai-Kai restaurant, which offers loads of dramatic tropical theatrics, including fire-dancing, live surf music and an indoor lagoon, the Molokai Lounge mixes up more than 50 tropical drinks under a nautical canopy of sea-worn fishing nets, life preservers and old lanterns.
3599 N. Federal Hwy., Ft. Lauderdale, FL; 954-563-3272
Though not a dedicated tiki bar, Clive’s in Victoria, British Columbia, offers bar-goers a taste of the tropics each summer with their seasonal tiki-inspired menu. Highlights range from classics—think Painkiller and Planter’s Punch—to contemporary twists, like the Tar Pit with two types of rum, Fernet Branca and housemade pimento dram, and the Cannibal’s Campfire with rum, whiskey earl grey tea syrup and grapefruit juice.
740 Burdett Ave., Victoria, British Columbia; 250-382-4221
Midwesterners with a taste for tiki venture to this bi-level lounge resting along the Mississippi River, where with seating for near 1,000 people and more than 20 tropical drinks, you’re sure to stay in good company.
1900 Marshall St. NE, Minneapolis, Minnesota; 612-788-9069
Tiki mistress Suzanne Long helms the bar at this new getaway in Oakland. Don't leave without trying a Black Orchid, a mix of house flambéed rum cordial, rum and citrus, garnished with an orchid and a little pearl keepsake.
347 14th St. Oakland, California; 510-465-2008