Who's Feeling Tiki? 4 Exotic Cocktail Lounges Shakin' It Up

by April Stamm

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday July 25, 2018

Lono Hollywood
Lono Hollywood  

There's no better time than sweltering summer to imbibe in a Polynesian-inspired cocktail. Fortunately, there are a few hotspots around the country that are shaking up exotic libations. Here are four bars that are re-visiting the classics and also putting unique spins on new creations.

Lono Hollywood

Lono has been hailed as one of the 10 Best Bars in L.A. by L.A. Weekly and with good reason. The posh, gorgeous homage to old Hollywood serves up all that is tiki.

Beautifully curated cocktails in a fresh but luxurious space scream Hollywood, where you can sip on a classic Piña Colada or get the royal treatment with the King Kamehameha (named after the great Hawaiian conquerer), which is loaded with "many fines rums from many fine places," Aperol, citrus, passion fruit and honey. Menu bites from executive chef David Lespron include jackfruit sliders, pork belly two ways and a musubi bowl with -- yes -- teriyaki-glazed spam.

6611 Hollywood Blvd

Los Angeles, CA

Tiki Tolteca
Tiki Tolteca  (Source: Matthew Wexler)

Tiki Tolteca
You can't go wrong with cocktails in The Big Easy, but tiki is not the first thing that pops to mind when you say New Orleans (sazerac, anyone?). Tiki Tolteca is changing that by embracing the traditional "laissez les bon temps rouler" vibe and serious cocktail culture of The Crescent City, but also finding a new muse: tiki classics and Latin American bites.

Tucked away on the second floor of Felipe's Taqueria in the French Quarter, Tiki Tolteca revels in all that is tiki with classic Mai Tai's and Zombies but also spins out fruity originals like The Raspberry Beret, a take on the daiquiri with raspberry, lemon and Li Hing Mui. Of course, when in NOLA, you can't forget the fun, Tiki Tolteca features limbo parties, cocktail seminars art battles.

301 N. Peters Street
New Orleans, LA

Pool Burger
Nestled between the oldest swimming pool in Texas, Deep Eddy Pool, and Deep Eddy Cabaret, a well-loved Austin dive bar, Pool Burger makes big burgers and cool tiki drinks all out of a 1968 Airstream.

The burger and cocktail menus are short but sweet, reveling in the classics while also offering creative twists including Shipwrecked, a potent mezcal-based cocktail with Mezcal Union, Damoiseau Rhum, lime, pineapple and cilantro and a flaming 151 rum floater. Step out of the pool and saunter over for a Blue Hawaiian burger, topped with grilled pineapple, bacon, blue cheese and thousand island dressing -- what could be better?

2315 Lake Austin Blvd.
Austin, TX

The Polynesian
The Polynesian  (Source: Matthew Wexler)

The Polynesian
New York City's Major Food Group triumphs with another mindblowing cocktail concept, this time tucked away in the towering concrete Pod Times Square Hotel. The Polynesian delivers an urban oasis thanks to Vanessa Guilford's design touches, which include a lava stone bar top, privacy screens inspired by meddo stick navigational charts and hand-painted mural landscapes.

"I want to give New York City the world-class Tiki bar it deserves," says master mixologist Brian Miller. "The Polynesian is the culmination of all my passion for Tiki poured into every drink and every inch of this space. My mission is to continue to preach the gospel of Tiki, shining a light on its glorious history and perhaps making the world of Tiki just a little bit bigger."

Many cocktails are served in custom-designed ceramic vessels. And for those drinking in a crowd, large format drinks include intoxicating punches such as the Barbossa Punch, which arrives in a treasure chest overflowing with Applejack, calvados, absinthe, pineapple rum, lemon and pineapple juices, orgeat, Tonga mix and creole shrub. Be sure to wander to the outdoor terrace with panoramic city views.

400 West 42nd Street
New York, NY

Additional contribution by Matthew Wexler.

April Stamm is a lifestyle and food writer and chef based in Manhattan and Brooklyn, NY.