When I was young the first bar I had ever been to was a tiki bar (Kona Club in Oakland, CA). At the time I had never been to a bar before so I thought that all bars were tiki themed and served Macadamia Nut Chi Chi’s. After getting older and subsequently going out to regular bars, I sadly learned that was not the case. Over the years, I forgot about that experience until one day I found myself in a tiki bar sipping a rum cocktail through a magenta straw — feeling like my mood had completely changed. It was then that I realized that I have always had a great time at tiki bars, the mood is always so positive and the drinks are (usually) really good! Since then, I’ve been making an effort to visit tiki establishments during my travels because it almost always guarantees a good time.
Here are my top 5.
Smugglers Cove – San Francisco, California
Smugglers Cove is by all accounts a really fun tiki bar to visit and makes it to the top of the list for the greatest selection of rum I have ever seen. What this bar lacks in physical space to stand in (it’s always busy!), makes up for in the quality of the cocktails. I consider Smuggler’s Cove to be the créme de la créme of tiki concoctions. They pay homage to the great tiki bars that came before them while also presenting a variety of new cocktails for everyone to enjoy.
“I consider Smuggler’s Cove to be the créme de la créme of tiki concoctions”.
Undertow – Phoenix, Arizona
Undertow is one of my favorites because it is an intimate experience and I have never seen a space quite like it. It’s the only tiki bar where I have experienced a virtual porthole, where you see ships actually sailing around and fighting each other. It’s so cool! Some call Undertow a Speakeasy, since it’s hard to find. Located in the basement of a coffee shop, you would never know that it was even there if you weren’t looking. Overall, a trip to Phoenix wouldn’t be complete without this fun and festive experience!
Hale Pele – Portland, Oregon
Do you enjoy fire? Do you like alcohol? Are you in Portland? Then you should go here!You will definitely feel the magic of Hale Pele when you sit down in your seat and order your first Volcano Bowl. Get ready for drums and lights!!! It doesn’t get old. This tiki bar is small which makes the experience intimate. After sitting down for a drink or two, you will likely forget what time it is and possibly which day it is…my favorite thing on the menu is the Jet Pilot, it’s served flaming with lots of fire!
The Grass Skirt – San Diego, California
Do you like tiki bars? Do you like speakeasys? If the answer is yes to those, then you will love The Grass Skirt since it’s a tiki bar speakeasy!! The entrance to the tiki bar is through the walk in freezer that is in the back of the adjacent restaurant. This is probably one of my favorite tiki bar entrances that I have ever seen. Not to mention that the vibe is fantastic, once you get inside! I recommend ordering the Jungle Bird, or grab a punch bowl if you are with a group. You are all set to have a great time!
Psycho Suzies – Minneapolis, Minnesota
I had never been to a tiki bar like Psycho Susie’s before, this place is HUGE!! Most tiki establishments are small, usually pretty intimate spaces but not Psycho Suzies. The indoor space along with the outdoor seating is expansive and felt almost like an amusement park restaurant than a tiki joint. This tiki bar isn’t only on the list because of its size, but because the tiki drinks were super fun. We ordered several drinks, some were on fire and one mimicked a volcano with “smoke” that was trickling out of it. Overall, going here produced exactly the jovial experience that I was hoping for!