Lucy Britner: The World's Best Tiki Bars

25 July, 2013

Don the Beachcomber, 16278 Pacific Coast Highway, California, US

We’ve already talked about this guy a lot. Indeed, he has been credited with inventing the tiki bar. You can do pretty much everything at Don the Beachcomber – watch the Super Bowl, use the banqueting facilities, buy the merchandise, even have your wedding reception. The venue’s Dagger Bar tiki lounge is so-called because Donn liked to collect old daggers and put them on the back bar. The bar has also recently recreated some of Donn’s old Rhum Rhapsody recipes.

Trailer Happiness, 177 Portobello Road, London, UK

This London tiki institution describes itself as a “low rent, mid-60s California valley bachelor pad”. There’s a semi-private area for parties, food, cocktail masterclasses and even a rum club. This meets officially once a month but we bet imbibing of the tiki’s nectar takes place a little more regularly than that. If you’re feeling brave, go to the group’s rum quiz at and test your knowledge.

Painkiller, 49 Essex Street, New York

As well as coming in the form of aspirin and paracetamol, a Painkiller is also a cocktail made famous throughout the West Indies and the US by Pusser’s Rum. The recipe calls for Pusser’s Rum – of course – with four parts pineapple juice, one part cream of coconut and one part orange juice, served over the rocks with a generous amount of fresh nutmeg on top. You have a choice of numbers two, three or four, which designate the ‘parts’ of Pusser’s Rum.

If you’re interested in the history of drinks, Painkiller also offers five types of Zombie, ranging from the original 30s recipe to a 1947 recipe, a 1950, a 1956 and a Reposado Zombie made with tequila.

Tiki Ti, 4427 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, California

This is a family affair and the bar was opened in 1961 by Ray Buhen. According to Tiki Ti, Buhen “was there at the start of the tropical drink craze at Don The Beachcomber’s legendary restaurant”. Today, Ray’s son and grandson, Michael and Mike Buhen, carry on his tiki tradition and they describe the venue as one of the “last of the great neighbourhood tiki bars”. There are 92 tropical libations with which to whet your whistle but don’t ask for beer or wine – the venue doesn’t serve them.

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Tess Posthumus

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