Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE ALL THINGS TIKI (so much I had to capitalize the sentence).
My very first apartment was an enormous, Hawaiian themed complex in Washington state called Kona Village, replete with two enormous tiki statues standing guard out front (see below). Click here to read about it’s eventual dramatic demise.
I don’t know if I got into Tiki culture as a result of living there, but that is when I first started making vintage cocktails and getting into Exotica music from the 50’s.
When I eventually moved to California, birthplace of the movement, I had to seek out the remaining tiki establishments. Below are three of LA county’s best Tiki treasures.
Sadly, I was only able to visit Bahooka on it’s final weekend before demolition, so we weren’t able to snag a table to eat (the wait time was over 2 hours) but we did try a cocktail and wander around this incredible, historic Tiki symposium. Many of Bahooka’s artifacts are going to be displayed in the new Clifton’s Cafeteria. Whenever the hell that opens.
I’ve only been to North Hollywood’s Tonga Hut once. But I had a blast!
The Scorpion Bowl (featured at the very top) made sure of that! It’s a share with your friends (or not, drunky) tropical cocktail that’s sure to pack a wallop.
The interior is all original late 50’s tiki, super dark (for making out or nursing a hangover) and the cocktails are more in the trendy, mixologist realm. They definitely still taste traditional and go down real quick.
12808 Victory Blvd
North Hollywood, CA 91606
Tiki Ti holds a lot of great memories for me, since I’ve hung my fez hat there on quite a few occasions.
It’s a tiny place, the father and son bartenders are also the owners and every year they close the place down when they go on vacation. To an actual real tropical hideaway, hopefully.
It’s cash only, they ONLY serve tropical drinks (no beers or wine) and it gets packed in there. Every delicious drink is served with a wedge of pineapple and a maraschino cherry, in case you were worried about your day’s fruit intake.
Smoking IS allowed inside and everyone does it. Take note. Or take a face mask.
The most famous drink is called Ray’s Mistake. Ray Buhen opened the bar in 1961 (and his son and grandsons have taken over) and poured two wrong syrups into a cocktail, accidentally creating a delicious concoction. The exact recipe is unknown.
The upside to the super tiny space is that you get to (forcibly) meet people as you’re sucking down your Mai Tai a mere centimeters from them, so you really have no choice.
But I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Friday night (or Sunday afternoon). You have my heart, Tiki Ti. And what’s left of my liver.
4427 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027