The World’s 15 Most Important Tiki Bars

The World’s 15 Most Important Tiki Bars

PUNCH |
PUNCH Staff |
Aug 10, 2017
Original Article: "The World’s 15 Most Important Tiki Bars"

Today’s tiki experts—from Martin Cate to Sven Kirsten—on the most notable tiki bars across the globe.

To use the terminology “most important” when it comes to tiki bars seems like a paradox.

Tiki bars were never meant to be important. Born in America’s post-Prohibition era, these bars became wildly popular in the 1950s and ’60s for celebrating a romanticized notion of island life. Bamboo and waterfalls, torches and exotic carvings, pupu platters and, of course, boozy rum drinks served in ostentatious drinking vessels.

Yet, despite being predicated on a heavy dose of frivolity, tiki’s enduring legacy merits our respect, especially amid the genre’s modern revival.

“My focus has always been on tiki as an art form, not on tiki as mixology,” explains Sven Kirsten, setting a template for how we will best define the genre’s most important bars. A tiki archaeologist, designer and author of The Book of Tiki, Kirsten claims, “There are so few original bars left now that are great examples of the style, they need to be worshiped as temples of classic tiki design.”

The closing of many original midcentury tiki bars, like Don the Beachcomber, means that the few remaining old icons are utterly crucial to understanding quintessential tiki. And while the drinks at aging tiki dens like Trader Vic’s or even Tiki-Ti might not be up to snuff to a modern craft cocktail drinkers, the “realness” of their fabricated Polynesian aesthetic remains a significant cultural artifact.

“It is sad to see that the foodie community nowadays labels anything ‘tiki’ as long as it has some tiki drinks on the menu, and passes on places with tradition and historic context because their cocktails are not up to par,” says Kirsten. “This shows great ingratitude and ignorance to why the modern version exists at all.”

Nevertheless, there are modern tiki bars that don’t just accurately pay homage to tiki’s past, but also elevate its drinks, using fresh fruits and high-quality syrups as opposed to the commercial “mixes” that became synonymous with tiki during its darker days.

Tiki icons of yore and new-school trailblazers are both represented on the list below, which was compiled by polling some of today’s top tiki experts, including Kirsten; Martin Cate, James Beard award-winning owner of Smuggler’s CoveJeff “Beachbum” Berry, author of six books on tiki and owner of Latitude 29; Brian Miller, the so-called “pirate captain of all things tiki in New York City”; and “Tiki” Chris Osburn, a London-based travel writer.

Nearly half of our list comes from two hardly-tropical cities, London and Chicago. Meanwhile, Asia and Latin America were almost completely ignored by our experts—perhaps no surprise, as tiki is mostly an American art form that spread to other western, English-speaking locations, with a few notable exceptions.

Three Dots and a Dash

One of the country’s premiere modern tiki bars, Three Dots and a Dash is an underground tropical oasis with a fine-tuned focus on all things rum. The bar has become a beacon for the contemporary tiki movement—new and innovative, but still firmly rooted in the classics. A must-stop on the Chicago cocktail trail.

Media Contact

Emily Clark pr@leye.com 773-878-7340

You May Also Like...

In The Restaurants
Best Spots for Group Dining
Feb 9, 2019

You finally got the whole crew to agree on the same day and time, now you just have to find the…

read more >
In The Restaurants
These Dishes & Drinks are Perfect to Share
Feb 8, 2019

The way to one's heart is through the stomach, so how about sharing one of our favorite dishes or…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Late Night & Live Music with Lettuce
Feb 3, 2019

Night owls rejoice - select Lettuce restaurants and nightclubs offer everything from late-night food…

read more >
In The Restaurants
8 Food Trends We’re Looking Forward To In 2019
Jan 20, 2019

Just like fashion, food is always trending and it’s up to the experts to decide what’s “in”…

read more >
How To
The Perfect Party Appetizers
Dec 30, 2018

A well-crafted appetizer is the perfect way to make sure your guests won't go hungry so you can…

read more >
In The Restaurants
7 New Holiday Drinks to Sip on This Season at Three Dots and a Dash
Dec 18, 2018

“Mele Kalikimaka, that’s the island greeting that we send to you from the land where palm trees…

read more >
In The Restaurants
A Gift Guide for the Food Lover in Your Life
Dec 5, 2018

Whether a birthday, graduation or any other of the countless holidays, we're here to make selecting…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Check It Out: All-New Merch Available from Three Dots and a Dash
Oct 9, 2018

Calling all Tikiphiles! The latest wave of custom Three Dots and a Dash merchandise is here. Check…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Celebrate (the real) National Mai Tai Day
Aug 29, 2018

Today the great Mai Tai cocktail turns 74, celebrating the day Victor J. "Trader Vic" Bergeron…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Lettuce Life: Alex Payne Takes Drawing on Menus to a Whole New Level
Aug 9, 2018

Lettuce Life takes you behind the scenes into the culture of Lettuce Entertain You, spotlighting the…

read more >
In The Restaurants
The Future of Tiki at Three Dots and a Dash
May 29, 2018

Three Dots and a Dash's Beverage Director, Kevin Beary, has been busy. While running the bar…

read more >
In The Restaurants
James Beard Eats Week 2018
Apr 17, 2018

James Beard Eats Week is back! From April 27-May 7 show your support of aspiring Chicago culinary…

read more >
In The Restaurants
The Wait Is Over – The Three Dots and a Dash Mug Shop is Now Open
Apr 6, 2018

Looking for your tiki fix but can’t make it to Three Dots and a Dash? Not to worry! The online mug…

read more >
In The Restaurants
This One’s For Our Indecisive Diners
Feb 26, 2018

For all of you indecisive order-ers out there - the "I want to order one of everything on the menu"…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Lettuce in Love: Weddings with Lettuce Parties
Feb 13, 2018

It's almost Valentine's Day and love is in the air. Believe it or not it's a tale as old as time (or…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Our Chef’s Predictions and Resolutions for 2018
Jan 2, 2018

Our chefs aren't psychic but they do have a finger on the pulse of what's on the horizon for the New…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Time to Party! Three Dots and a Dash’s New Cocktail Menu Launches
Oct 26, 2017

Three Dots and a Dash’s new cocktail menu is dropping on November 2, and you better believe it's…

read more >
How To
Recipe: Three Dots and a Dash Wiki Wiki
Oct 4, 2017

The Wiki Wiki at Three Dots and a Dash is a modern take on a tiki classic. Try this recipe for the…

read more >
In The Restaurants
New Season, New Tiki Cocktails
Jun 21, 2017

Fresh season calls for fresh, new tiki cocktails (and mugs, of course). Introducing the new Three…

read more >
How To
Kevin Beary’s Perfected Falernum Recipe
Oct 27, 2016

It's tiki time! Three Dots and a Dash's Beverage Director, Kevin Beary, developed this Falernum…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Lettuce Date Night
Aug 15, 2016

 

read more >
In The Restaurants
A Burger a Day in the Month of May
May 15, 2016

Let’s be honest. We don’t need a month dedicated to something that is celebrated every other day…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Take a Tour of Tiki’s Brand New Menu
Apr 15, 2016

Lettuce Entertain You’s Beverage Director Julian Cox and the team at Three Dots and a Dash is…

read more >
Openings
Now Open: The Bamboo Room at Three Dots and a Dash
Feb 15, 2009

Rum, don’t walk - The Bamboo Room is now open! Located inside Three Dots and a Dash, this new…

read more >

Recent Posts

How To
How to Make a Perfect Margarita
Feb 22, 2019

Making the perfect margarita is as easy as 1, 2, 3 and what better way to learn than with our…

read more >
How To
Giuliana Rancic Dishes on How To Throw An Award-Winning Oscar Party
Feb 22, 2019

The 91st Academy Awards are happening Sunday, February 24! With a little planning and some useful…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Happy Hour Gets an Upgrade: Check out Hub 51’s All-New “The Happiest Hour”
Feb 21, 2019

Hub 51 just launched a brand new happy hour where guests buy the drinks and the restaurant supplies…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Here’s Where to Brunch this Weekend
Feb 20, 2019

If you're anything like us, you plan your weekend around brunch. Here is your guide to all of our…

read more >
How To
Treat Yourself! Here’s 7 Ways to Use Your Holiday Bonus
Feb 20, 2019

Wondering what to do with your $25 Holiday Bonus from the Holiday Gift Card Promotion? Now through…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Sip Your Way Through History with Booth One’s New Cocktail Menu
Feb 20, 2019

Booth One is a restaurant that sits in one of the most iconic locations in hospitality history; a…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Video: The 2019 Windy City Smokeout Is Back with a Star-Studded Lineup & NEW Location
Feb 19, 2019

Get fired up, Chicago! The Windy City Smokeout is back (July 12 – 14, 2019) with another year of…

read more >
In The Restaurants
5 Reasons to Say “I Do” at The Dalcy
Feb 19, 2019

The holiday season is filled with family time, friends, too much food and engagements! Dubbed the…

read more >
How To
VIDEO: 5 Ways to Use the LettuceEats App
Feb 19, 2019

We like to think of the LettuceEats app as your own personal restaurant concierge complete with…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Rise & Shine: The Best Way to Breakfast During the Week
Feb 19, 2019

Early risers rejoice! We've rounded up all of our weekday breakfast specialties that will keep you…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Your Weekly Bub City Calendar! Spoiler Alert: There’s A $5 Deal Every Night
Feb 19, 2019

We're here to make sure you never miss a beat and also help you plan your social calendar around…

read more >
In The Restaurants
4 Reasons Why You Should Have Your Wedding at Osteria Via Stato
Feb 19, 2019

He popped the question, you popped the champagne and voila, you’re engaged!  Now, it’s time to…

read more >
Lettuce Consulting Group

Grow Your Business

Learn More
Career Opportunities

Join Our Team

Search Jobs
Latest Articles

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Sign Up Now

Lettuce on Instagram

Checkout our feed @lettuceentertainyou!