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Boston Tiki Bar?

Hi All

I've been watching too much Tony Bourdain, but after seeing him slurping up ridiculous pineapple-bedecked concoctions in Hawaii and Staten Island (!?!) I've developed a nasty craving. Any suggestions? I hear the Tiki Room is closed... :(

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  1. Maybe East Coast Grill's tiki room in Inman Sq., Cambridge: http://www.eastcoastgrill.net/menus/d...

    1. Tiki Lagoon at Kowloon. That's probably the closest thing to a real 50's tiki bar left in Boston.

      1 Reply
      1. re: bobot

        This is assuming you're looking for decor, by the way. The food/drinks at Kowloon suck.

      2. while not a Tiki bar i'd head over to Eastern Standard and talk to them, especially Bob.

        1. Sundays are all about Tiki at Drink in Fort Point.

          6 Replies
          1. re: ponyboy

            absolutely. you gotta try the Carribean Punch, it's got A&W root beer as an ingredient and i'm addicted.

            1. re: ponyboy

              I kept meaning to hit that up, and now that NFL has started, it is unlikely that I'll make it for a long while :(

              1. re: ponyboy

                Ben, who used to be my go to bartender at Drink before he sadly moved on, was a big Tiki guy; however, Scott is still in residence and makes mean Tiki drinks - great Singapore Sling.

                1. re: bostonbroad

                  Pretty much every bartender at Drink can bring the authentic Tiki, though Misty is first among equals on this score in my book, as is Gertsen, which should surprise no one.


                  1. re: bostonbroad

                    At Drink, Sam has been our favorite for Tiki Sundays. Joe has been coming up with his own creations which are spot on.


                  2. re: ponyboy

                    Are they continuing that? I figured that the Tiki focused Sundays were in the summer only. Good news, if not, since I never made it.

                  3. Not Boston adn no bar, but I like Tiki Island in Medford. Cheesy murals and masks on the walls, stiff drinks in goofy mugs and better food than Kowloon.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: masterson

                      I second Tiki Island. Food is solid and just what you would expect and the Mai Tai and Scorpion Bowl are top notch!

                      1. re: masterson

                        Please... PLEASE!... don't say that food here is decent. It was horrible when we went there last week and we will definitely not be going back ever! Rather go to dingy Chinatown than here again...

                        1. re: nader

                          As I said, it is just what you would expect walking into the joint. Solid Americanized Chinese food. Nothing there will blow your socks off except for how strong the drinks are. The OP was looking for Tiki drinks, Tiki Island will deliver on that and as said above the food is better than Kowloon.

                          The fact that you think all restaurants in Chinatown are dingy is kind of painting with a pretty broad brush as well...

                      2. If you're looking for tiki decor I can't help, but I will second Eastern Standard for their drinks, and if you need to nosh on some "Chinese food" (ribs, wings, teriyaki, egg rolls) and want tiki drinks Golden Temple's bar is a good choice as well; they mix up all of the classics and do them prettty well (especially the mai tais!).

                        1. There's Tiki and there's Tiki. You might get some authentic 50s-vintage atmosphere at some of the American Chinese and Polynesian restaurants in the suburbs, but the drinks will be similar to what you get at the Hong Kong: strong, but debased, phony and all rather similar-tasting.

                          Drink and Eastern Standard don't have the decor, but they're reviving the authentic Tiki mixology of Donn the Beachcomber and his heirs, which is not at all trivial. It requires a lot of house-made infused syrups, fresh juices (fresh pineapple juice makes a huge difference) and a lot of rather obscure spirits and NA ingredients (pimiento dram, a battery of unusual rums, Cherry Heering, Velvet Falernum, etc.)

                          But the results are like night and day from the fake-Tiki places. It's such an unusual and rich little sub-genre of craft mixology, one of the most fun and delicious things I've experienced in the past year as a drinker locally.

                          You can order Tiki drinks at either place at any time, but as ever, the quieter off-peak periods are far more enjoyable. Drink actually focuses on Tiki on Sunday afternoons (I think it starts around 5pm). ESK also does periodic Tiki events with authentic Polynesian food and amazing Tiki cocktails.

                          If you're interested in recreating this stuff at home, I'd recommend you first invest in the book Sippin' Safari by Jeff "Beach Bum" Berry. It's an excellent primer on real Tiki cocktails, and has wonderful recipes, many of which required some real sleuthing to uncover the closely-guarded special ingredients of the very secretive Donn. I had great results with it over the summer, though my bar is now crowded with a lot of weird new specialty items. (I'm on the fence about buying some ceramic moai mugs.)


                          12 Replies
                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            Indeed....I long ago got my hands on an old copy of Tader Vic's cookbook (the first one, before the mai tai recipe was printed), and reading about how he and Donn and others revered rum and the cocktails that had been created using it, as well as the uses of fresh fruit juices and exotica like almond syrup (orgeat) etc. I was in love with the idea immediately, and also cluttered my bar with odd mixers and glassware. That book too is worth checking out, if for nothing else than the pictures of the parties he threw (or dreamed?)! Great recipes for parties.

                            Last week had the Zombie at Eastern Standard and spoke with the bartender about the ingredients and how they were concocted (ESK is a place that I also revere!). I have a high tolerance for alcohol but that drink surely had a big kick to it!

                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              Speaking of Sippin' Safari, for someone looking for a recipe book I'd point them first to the Grog Log instead. SS is an interesting book, but the recipes are more complementary to the story.

                              1. re: jgg13

                                A quick note is that Grog Log will be combined with Intoxica along with 100 new recipes under one cover (I believe it will be available in November). Read more:

                                1. re: yarm

                                  That's awesome news! I've been looking for Intoxica for a while now. It's so rare that used copies go for $100 and up.


                                  1. re: yarm

                                    D*&n it! I just shelled out for the unadorned Grog Log...oh well, maybe I can buy the enhanced copy and pass on the basic Log to another Tiki lover.

                                2. re: MC Slim JB

                                  I've seen the Zombie at Green Street (pretty good, apricot liqueur recipe i think) and Deep Ellum (not so good, didnt ask about recipe.) I haven't tried them at Drink or ESK, and not sure if Highland or the Independent would be able to make them.
                                  Also, Grog Log thru Sippin' Safari is why I have eleven kinds of rum and think i need more.

                                  1. re: the modern serf

                                    I love Green Street's bartending, consider it among the top three or four places in town, but the Zombie I had there was kind of flat and dull. They certainly have the rums to do it up right.


                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      Their Zombie recipe isn't a classic one, but one of the newer versions. It might be a compromise of having it on the A-Z menu without taking twice the time to assemble it.

                                  2. re: MC Slim JB

                                    Right on. Thanks for these tips. Aside from my initial tony bourdain motivation, I had recently been visiting DC, and found that (according to the wash post, at least) the tiki revolution has already started down there. I was amazed to learn the complexities of mixing proper tiki drinks, and needed to get my hands on one. Now, thanks to your recs, i can!


                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      Beachbum Berry Remixed finally shipped from Amazon a few weeks ago. I've read it cover to cover and am jonesing for some great tiki drinks. Does Drink still do Tiki on Sundays?

                                      1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                                        I think Tiki Sundays at Drink are seasonal, which means they should be coming back soon. But Tiki drinks are always available there, even when the staff isn't wearing Hawaiian shirts.

                                        The new bar manager at Clio is brilliant: his new cocktail menu includes a whole section of well-executed, authentic Tiki drinks. Well worth checking out, and not just for Tiki.

                                        Ginger Park does a decent Scorpion Bowl these days, too, though I cringe a bit at its use of caffeinated chili/mango schnapps in it.


                                        1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                                          Tiki Sundays at Drink are back as of a few weeks ago.

                                      2. Bali Hai in Saugus: good original Tiki decor; a decent Mai Tai with many other debased but *cheap* tiki cocktails; food surprisingly good; a bit down-at-the-heels but on the whole worth it.

                                        1. Thank you to everyone for the helpful tips!
                                          I have a huge project due this week, and am looking forward to celebrating at Drink or Eastern Standard with a delectable concoction.

                                          And wouldn't you know it? This thread became the featured thread of the week on the Boston Chowhound e-newsletter! :)

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: oishisoo

                                            don't forget Tom's flaming tiki drink at Craigie! (not on the menu)

                                          2. While there is nothing in Boston per se, the surrounding area has some great joints with classic decor. (We've hit em all on the Northeast Tiki Tour)

                                            A little south is Mon Kou, in North Attleboro. Some great old masks, carvings, murals, and a fountain when you come in. Food is traditional New England Chinese, but the drinks are rather good. The manager, Bailey, is Bob Lee's nephew (of Bob Lee's Islander fame) and uses alot of his old recipes. Worth checking out.

                                            As noted, Kowloon & Bali Hai (a few minutes up rte 1 from one another) are both worth checking out. Bali Hai has a Zombie that I swear is nothing but 8 oz of rum (and still tastes pretty good) for under $5. Kowloon, the best drink they make is the scorpion/volcano bowl. I wont drink anything else there.

                                            For FANTASTIC decor, the South Pacific in Newton is your spot. They started to renovate the place in the 80s, but left a back room completely tikified. The food is fair, and the drinks are kind of hit & miss. I've had one of the best, and one of the worst Mai Tais there. I guess it depends on who's running the stick.

                                            If you feel like making the run to Worcester, there's Ken Chins. There's an app there called Cheese Monas that I crave every few weeks. You've gotta try them. Also, the food as Ken's is some of the BEST NE Style Chineese I've had, and Judy mixes a mean drink.

                                            And if you're willing to REALLY travel, Luau Hale in Lenox has GREAT drinks, decor, food...the works. But its a haul. There's an outlet mall & a bunch of antique stores out that way. Make a weekend of it.

                                            Oh, and Hukelau in Chicopee has renovated all its decor. VERY tiki. But the food AND drinks there are terrible (and the drinks appear to be booze free...bring a flask. ;) )

                                            We may do another Tiki Tour in 2010, and we'll hit a bunch of them, but the Ohana: Luau at the Lake event was so popular, we may put our focus there again for next year.

                                            Feel free to hit me up with any questions.