Anyone can open a bar, throw some sand on the ground, put a Mai Tai on the menu and call it “tiki.” But good tiki bars—ones serving classic drinks made with quality spirits, homemade syrups and fresh-squeezed juices—are harder to come by. Thanks to tiki’s recent resurgence, though, more and more really great tiki bars are cropping up across the country every day. Here, the top 12 American bars keeping the tiki tradition alive while giving it their own unique spin.
Three Dots and a Dash
Morse code for the letter “V” (for victory), three dots and a dash was the message broadcast to American troops when WWII came to an end. That message went on to inspire a classic tiki drink (Don Beach’s ode to the soldiers who brought Hawaii’s tropical flavors and Aloha shirts back to the states), which in turn inspired this fantastic, transportive Chicago bar. “People just want to have fun,” Three Dots and a Dash beverage director Julian Cox says. “Tiki affords us that opportunity to get outside of ourselves and relax on an island somewhere.” Settle into a drink served in an elaborate, custom-made tiki mug or bring a crew and dive into a large-format cocktail like the Bali Bali—a massive mix of passion fruit, orange, falernum, rum, Armagnac and gin served in a sea urchin bowl with dry ice.