20 Tiki Drinks You've Got to Try Before You Die
This three-spirit blend (white rum, gin, brandy) hails from the shaker of Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron, one of the early trailblazers of Tiki lore. And one of the key ingredients in any Fog Cutter (besides the booze, of course) is orgeat, a sweet almond syrup, which Bergeron helped introduce in the American drinking vernacular.
- Recipe: Fog Cutter
Don the Beachcomber, the father of the Tiki drink movement, aptly named this drink after the surge in flight advancements during the 1940s. According to Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, a modern-day Tiki researcher, this cocktail inspired other aviation cocktails such as the Astronaut, Space Pilot, and the Jet Pilot.
- Recipe: Test Pilot
At the behest of sales reps for blue curacao, bartender Harry Yee created this Technicolor classic at the Hilton Hawai’i Village in Waikiki in 1957.
- Recipe: Blue Hawaiian
Modern-day Tiki “archaeologist” Beachbum Barry cracked the code for this drink after deciphering what “spices number two” and “spices number four” were in Don the Beachcomber’s little black books (Donn Beach was notoriously secretive) at his eponymous tiki bar. The secret? A mixture of allspice and vanilla and cinnamon-infused sugar syrup.
- Recipe: Nui Nui
Cocktail legend holds that British sea captain George Soule scoured the Caribbean for the ultimate cocktail, and found it in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The tropical blend of Virgin Islands Cruzan Rum, sugar cane extract, and ripe bananas is still served at the Mountain Top bar on St. Thomas. Learn how to make an impressive banana dolphin garnish here.
- Recipe: Banana Daiquiri
Though named for the fierce Filipino warrior chief, this blended rum drink is more fruity than feisty.
- Recipe: Lapu Lapu
While the true inventor of the official drink of Puerto Rico is hotly contested—the Caribe Hilton and The Barrachina in San Juan both hang plaques claiming to be the birthplace—there’s no doubt this Tiki classic is a sip of pineapple-coconut heaven.
- Recipe: Piña Colada
Faced with an excess of rum and fruity liqueurs, a Holiday Isle Tiki Bar bartender turned its surplus product into a Tiki legend, which he named after the bootleggers of Florida’s Prohibition days.
- Recipe: Rum Runner
Despite dozens of fabulous drinks that have come out of Tiki’s golden age, the Mai Tai is far and away its poster child. In fact, this Trader Vic original was so popular that it depleted world rum supplies in the ‘40s and ‘50s.
- Recipe: Mai Tai
What do you get when you mix one secretive restaurant owner and barmaid, a Pusser’s rum founder, and a drink blending competition? A nutmeg-freckled Tiki beverage that’s now known as the official cocktail of the British Virgin Islands.
- Recipe: Painkiller
Deep Sea Diver
The peach brandy used in a Missionary’s Downfall is hard to come by, but worth the liquor store reconnaissance. Go full farm-to-glass for this Don the Beachcomber original and blend fresh mint sprigs into this invigorating tipple.
- Recipe: Missionary’s Downfall
Passion Fruit Zombie
The elusive Zombie (Beachbum Barry searched for years before piecing together Don the Beachcomber’s recipe) was said to have packed quite a punch, so much so that Beachcomber himself would serve no more than two per customer. So sip slowly, and enjoy our passion fruit twist on the cocktail classic.
- Recipe: Passion Fruit Zombie
The rum and brandy Scorpion first came onto the cocktail scene via a small bar in Honolulu, but Trader Vic swiftly adopted it for his Tiki empire in the Bay Area. You can make it an individual drink, but we prefer to sip it out of a kitschy-cute scorpion bowl with friends.
- Recipe: Scorpion
3 Dots and a Dash
Three dots and a dash—which means “victory” in Morse code—is cleverly interpreted in the garnish of three cherries and a pineapple slice on this Don the Beachcomber classic.
- Recipe: 3 Dots and a Dash
The earliest mention of this Jamaican cocktail dates back to 1895 in the book Modern American Drinks as Jamaican Rum Punch. But the Caribbean cocktail didn’t fully rise to prominence until Don the Beachcomber started to put rum drinks on the map in the 1930s.
- Recipe: Planter’s Punch
In turn-of-the-century Singapore, women couldn’t consume anything stronger than tea in public without breaching etiquette. Enter Raffles Hotel bartender Ngiam Tong Boon, who crafted the Singapore Sling: a rosy, feminine beverage that looked like a fruit juice and drank like a cocktail.
- Recipe: Singapore Sling
The Caribbean version of the legendary New Orleans punch, made with coffee liqueur, Irish cream, and orange liqueur, makes for a smooth nightcap.
- Recipe: Bahama Hurricane