One of the most popular up and coming trends in bartending is Tiki, and it’s coming back in a very big way. Every time I step foot into a Tiki bar, I’m enamored with the elaborate fruit and flower garnishes, exotic flavors, and Tiki inspired glassware that I just want to put in my purse and take home with me (luckily, many of these bars sell their glasses as collectible souvenirs, so I’ve never ACTUALLY had to do this… yet.) From the over the top décor to the sweet and tropical drinks, there’s really nothing I don’t absolutely love about Tiki bars.
Tiki inspired bars go all the way back to the 1930’s, when Don the Beachcomber was created by Ernest Gantt in 1933. Located in Los Angeles, “Donn Beach” (formerly Ernest Gantt) served up Cantonese food and rum drinks, and he decorated the restaurant using décor he collected from his travels in the tropics. He’s the creator of the Zombie, a still popular cocktail consisting of several types of rum, pineapple juice, and lime juice. He went on to open Waikiki Beach, which is considered to be one of the original Tiki bars, sheltered by large palm trees and lit up on the beach only by a couple of tiki torches.
Trader Vic’s in Oakland, California was also a cornerstone for Tiki bars. Created in 1936 by Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic’s contributed one of the most popular and classic drinks of all time, the Mai Tai. The Mai Tai is a wonderful mix of various rums, orange Curacao, orgeat syrup, and lime juice. Years later, he was able to branch out and become a worldwide chain, and eventually a brand selling liquor, mixes, and other retail products. Both Donn Beach and Bergeron were both extremely influential to the Tiki movement that is happening now.
With my recent trip to Las Vegas, I left inspired after visiting Frankie’s Tiki Room, and exotic, slightly grungy, and totally charming Tiki room with drinks that were so tasty and boozy that I don’t even remember the rest of my night, in true Vegas fashion. I don’t have a lot of the traditional Tiki ingredients on hand, BUT I was able to come up with something that’s pretty damn tasty and Tiki inspired.
1 ½ oz. Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum
¾ oz. Fresh Orange Juice
½ oz. Fresh Lime Juice
Heavy Pomegranate Grenadine Float (about ¾ oz.)
Pour ingredients into a glass about ¾ full of crushed ice, “swizzle” the ingredients together using a bar spoon or swizzle stick, top with more crushed ice, float grenadine over the top of the ice. Garnish with an orange wedge and a tropical flower.
The Sailor Swizzle is totally refreshing and gives a hint of those exotic tropical flavors found in those classic Tiki drinks. This cocktail is take on the traditional Rum Swizzle, a cocktail served over crushed ice with Black Rum, Gold Rum, pineapple and orange juices, Bermuda falernum, and Angostura bitters. The Sailor Jerry spiced rum adds a sweet vanilla flavor with just a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. Out of all of the spiced rums out there, this is one of my absolute favorites (and it’s boozy as all hell). The Sailor Swizzle is the perfect cocktail for those late summer nights, sitting outside with friends and nothing but the light of a couple tiki torches.