If there were one drink that could teleport you to a tropical island with a single sip, that drink would be the tiki cocktail. Fruity, boozy, and often garnished with a tiny toothpicked umbrella, the tiki cocktail is a luxurious drink that instantly invokes feelings of paradise way down in Kokomo.
What constitutes a cocktail as tiki lies within its contents. Typically, they are rum based since rum is the popular liquor of choice in the tropics. They can also include other liquors like gin, tequila, or pisco, but rum is still number one. Then, there is the fruity component of fresh juice, the addition of liqueurs and syrups for depth, and of course the beautiful, elaborated garnishes along with the glasses themselves.
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While the tiki cocktail may sound like it was invented somewhere with tropical ocean shores like Hawaii or the island of Tahiti, the origins of this cocktail are traced back to none other than “The Golden State”, California. Don the Beachcomer owner Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt – later known as Donn Beach – and Trader Vic restaurant owner Victor Bergeron became the first to be credited for the creation of the tiki cocktail back in the 1930s.
Inspired by Polynesian culture and cuisine, the two opened up restaurants both in Los Angeles and Oakland respectively, where they served fruity rum drinks that would eventually lead to the tiki cocktail craze.
If you’re ready to get out of the cold and be whisked away to a summery island paradise, grab your cocktail shaker, dress up the tiki bar, and mix up on of these eight tiki cocktails recipes. While we can’t promise you’ll feel sand between your toes and a fresh ocean breeze, you’ll certainly be envisioning it.
1. South Seas Sling
A play on the Singapore Sling, the South Seas Sling is tropical, bontanical, and a gin lover’s version of a tiki drink. Replacing the dry gin and the cherry liqueur of a Singapore Sling, this cocktail opts for American gin and St. Germains.
Mix that in a cocktail shaker with Benedictine, pineapple juice, and lime juice, then strain into a highball glass. And don’t forget the beautiful tiki orchid garnish. Get the recipe here.
2. Flying Down to Rio
You may not be able to hop on a flight to Rio de Janeiro, but you can certainly pretend with this cocktail. A variation of the piña colada, it’s a blend of Avua Cachaca Amburana, Giffard Banana Liqueur, pineapple juice, orange juice, and a yummy coconut cream.
3. Navy Grog
The Navy Grog was a favorite at Don the Beachcomer. Taking the typical tiki ingredients and giving it a twist, the Navy Grog uses three types of rum, lime juice, a hint of honey, Angostura bitters, and fresh grapefruit juice. A few of these and you’ll probably understand how it got its name. Or wind up waking up on the beach somewhere. Get the recipe here.
4. Mai Tai
We simply can’t talk about tiki cocktails without talking about the mother of them all, the Mai Tai. Invented by Trader Vic’s owner Victor Bergeron, this is the quintessential tiki cocktail.
To whip this up Trader Vic’s style, you’ll need rum, orange Curaçao, Orgeat syrup, lime juice, orange juice, and simple syrup. Get the recipe here.
5. Mango Mai Tai
Of course, with every classic comes a variation that does it’s inspiration justice. Case in point, the Mango Mai Tai. All the classic Mai Tai flavors you love with mango ice cubes and a few secret ingredients take this classic to the next level. Get the recipe here.
6. New Orleans Hurricane Cocktail
If you want rum, this cocktail lets you have it. White rum, dark rum, passion fruit, orange juice, lime juice, grenadine, and a cherry on top give this cocktail its deadly name. You may want to find a lounge chair to enjoy this one. Get the recipe here.
7. Zombie Cocktail
By now you’ve figured out tiki cocktails love their rum as much as Jack Sparrow. Too many rum cocktails and you may turn into a zombie, like in this Zombie Cocktail.
Another tiki classic, the Zombie has a combo of aged rum, spiced rum, grenadine, cinnamon syrup, lime, pineapple, and orange juice, and is all topped off with maraschino cherries, an orange slice, and fresh mint. Better stick to just one. Get the recipe here.
8. The Rambler’s Ruby
When all the rum is gone, it’s time for the Rambler’s Ruby. With a base of gin, this cocktail is made tiki with the addition of mezcal, grapefruit juice, lime juice, Orgeat, Allspice Dram, cinnamon syrup, and two types of bitter.
Don’t be fooled, this gin cocktail can still sneak up on you, but hey, that’s the tiki way. Enjoy the vacation. Get the recipe here.