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Tiki's Best Cocktails

From classics to modern twists - Tiki style drinks will always have a place on menus.


Mai Tai 


Mai Tai from Tiki Bordel - Picture: Addie Chinn

Made with dark rum, orange curacao, fresh lime juice and orgeat.

The Mai Tai is served around the world but often, sadly, it’s a sickly sweet abomination of what should be a balanced rum-rich cocktail. This drink was the subject of fierce debate between two Tiki obsessed bartenders, both now deceased, and possibly still is between their ardent followers. One was Don The Beachcomber and the other was Trader Vic.

Don’s recipe was called a Mai Tai Swizzle which popped up around 1933 and disappeared from his restaurant’s menu by 1937. Victor J. Bergeron, or Trader Vic, as he became known, had a restaurant in Oakland. While standing behind his bar there, in 1944, he felt the world needed a new drink, something to make merry with. And he wasn’t wrong, with war raging across Europe and the Pacific. Beginning with a 17-year-old Jamaican rum he added fresh lime, orange curaçao from Holland, a dash of rock candy syrup, and a dollop of French orgeat, for its subtle almond flavor. After shaking it up he gave two of these new drinks to visiting friends from Tahiti, one who took a sip and said, “Mai tai -- roa ae!” Which translates 'as out of this world.'

Vic always claimed he had no knowledge of Don’s earlier cocktail, but there’s pretty decent evidence to support both sides of the argument. Whatever you believe, Vic’s cocktail is certainly the better of the two recipes and it is the one which bartenders around the world know of today. 



Made with aged rum, cognac, orgeat, fresh lemon juice and fresh orange juice. 



Image from Tasting Table.

Made with Pussers rum, fresh orange juice, fresh lemon juice, coco lopez.

The story of the Painkiller belongs to an intriguing bar on Jost Van Dyke island in the British Virgin Islands. Without a dock, the usual way to reach this incredibly small bar is to swim in, ensuring all guests are nicely drenched by the time they order a drink. So is their money, hence the name; Soggy Dollar Bar.

The original owner, Daphne Henderson, was known throughout the islands for her cocktail creations, one of which was the Pussers’ Painkiller. Henderson always refused to tell anyone her secret recipe but eventually it was cracked, or at least nearly cracked, in the 1980s by Pusser's founder Charles Tobias. It’s still best enjoyed perched on one of the six seats at Soggy Dollar Bar, but if swimming to White Bay on Jost Van Dyke island isn’t feasible then order somewhere closer to home and bring the tropics to you. 



Zombie from Tiki Bordel - Picture: Addie Chinn

A blend of rums of all different ages, fresh lime juice, pineapple juice and sugar. The recipe varies from bar to bar, with some including a spiced mix known as Don's Mix, and others including different fruit juices. 

Fog Cutter


Made with rum, cognac, gin, fresh orange juice, fresh lemon juice and orgeat. 


The Chartreuse Swizzle

undefinedImage from Honestly Yum

Made with Green Chartreuse, Velvet Falernum, fresh pineapple juice and fresh lime juice.

Dirty Banana


A of Rum-Bar Gold and overproof rums, a coffee kick from Kahlua and a healthy dose of both fresh banana and Lejay banana liqueur. Avaliable at Spirit of Tiki.

Artichoke Hold


Made with Jamaican rum, Cynar, elderflower liqueur, fresh lime juice and orgeat.

Skip the Shake


A concoction of Skipper Rum mixed with milk and maple syrup.Avaliable at Spirit of Tiki.