The tiki craze got its start in the 1930s at California bars like Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s before spreading across the country like brushfire on a dry day. Tiki drinks remained popular for nearly three decades until a growing focus on wine captivated consumer attention. Tropical drinks have enjoyed a revival recently, spurred by a new generation of creative mixologists. These area restaurants are capitalizing on that trend, encouraged by the knowledge that a surfer lurks inside all of us.
Caribbean Dream: Ke’e Grill, Juno Beach
General manager Rob McGrath dreamt up this cocktail years ago, and it fits perfectly with Ke’e Grill’s tropical decor reminiscent of a beach on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The drink combines Cruzan 9 Spiced and Malibu Coconut rums with fruit juice and a floater of Cruzan Black Strap Rum that provides a savory fillip to what McGrath describes as a “clean, straightforward, and refreshing” tropical drink. (561-776-1167)
Freaki Tiki: Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa, Vero Beach
Regardless of whether you sit inside at The Wave Kitchen & Bar or relax outdoors at the Cabana Bar, expect Cuban flair-meets-sun-and-surf at this hotel owned by Gloria and Emilio Estefan. “Customers are attracted to the drink by the name,” says Cabana Bar manager Lori Embser. “And when they sip it, the cocktail fits into the entire vacation experience; it’s part of the laid-back beach vibe of the resort.” Bartenders muddle a lemon wedge into orange and cranberry juices and then add Malibu and Botran Blanca rums before topping it off with a splash of club soda. (772-562-9919)
Mango Beach Break: Guanabanas, Jupiter
This is one place where tiki cocktails never went out of style: Perched on the Jupiter River, Guanabanas is an open-air complex with live music, tropical foliage, and a formidable spirits selection. According to bartender Matt Cahur, the Mango Beach Break is “all about the rum.” Flor de Cana 4 Year Gold is vigorously shaken with mango puree, orange and pineapple juices, and Triple Sec infused with Florida oranges. As many as 100 are served on a busy weekend night. (561-747-8878)
For more tropical cocktails, continue to page 2.
Pineapple Smash: Café Boulud, Palm Beach
For general manager Jason Lakow, the inspiration for this libation came from the copper pineapple mugs. “I knew I wanted them as soon as I saw one, so we designed a cocktail around them,” Lakow says. The drink blends Bacardi Fusion and Stiggins Plantation rums with orgeat, velvet falernum, lime juice, and bitters. “The orgeat adds creaminess and the falernum lends a touch of spice,” Lakow says. “It’s light and refreshing rather than spirit forward. Best of all, it comes in a 32-ounce mug for two guests to share.” (561-655-6060)
Rum Runner Daiquiri: PB Catch, Palm Beach
A tribute to the bootlegging days of Prohibition, this cocktail originated as part of The Shack, PB Catch’s summer popup lounge. “We tracked down six reproductions of tiki mugs,” says general manager Daniel Smith. “We wanted a retro look and feel to be part of the experience.” Unlike a traditional Rum Runner, fresh banana and blackberries dominate this version with a solid core of Real McCoy Rum, which is made in Barbados and named for Bill McCoy, the most famous bootlegger of all. (561-655-5558)
Tiki Torch Punch: Max’s Social House, Delray Beach
General manager Bob Higginbotham decided to add a tiki drink to the Max’s Social House menu after savoring many such cocktails at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. “When I came back, we played around with the idea until we came up with this one,” Higginbotham says. The Tiki Torch Punch combines Mount Gay Barbados Rum with velvet falernum, allspice dram, and fresh orange and pineapple juices along with a dollop of local Pascale’s Lemon Basil Marmalade and several types of bitters. It’s delivered in a pilsner glass with an abundance of crushed ice and a torched cinnamon stick. (561-501-4332)