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NYC's 4 Best Tiki Bars

Bring on the heat. Battle the oncoming heatwave and humidity with a tiki drink. What makes a tipple a tiki drink, you ask? Usually a rum-based cocktail made with tropical fruit and poured over crushed ice, tiki drinks are all about dramatic presentation, and are often served in hollowed coconut shells or pineapples and garnished with flowers and paper umbrellas. Thirsty for some kitschy beach-themed fun? Here are the best tiki bars on Manhattan Island. By Selena Ricks-Good.


Credit: Virginia Rollison/Flickr

49 Essex St.
New York, NY
(212) 777-8454

The massive cocktail menu at this hip underground tiki den (formerly known as Painkiller) includes a section dedicated to Scorpion Bowls, potent punches doused with 151 rum for four to six people to share. Many of the cocktails here are twists on the classic 1930s recipes from Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic's, and all use fresh ingredients blended at the bar--some are even lit on fire. Try the Bermuda Swizzle (Gosling's Black Seal Rum, Velvet Falernum, lime juice, pineapple juice and Angostura Bitters), and feel your pain slip away.

Lani Kai

Lani Kai
(credit: Lani Kai/Facebook)

525 Broome St.
New York, NY
(646) 596-8778

Opened last fall by Julie Reiner (Clover Club, Flatiron Lounge), Lani Kai's modern tropical drink menu is inspired by Reiner's childhood in Hawaii. The subtly decorated bi-level space features a dining room upstairs and a lounge downstairs. Sip a Leilani's Fizz (gin, lychee juice, lime juice, lemongrass syrup and club soda) and nibble on a pu pu platter, and you've booked yourself a virtual island getaway.

Riff Raff's

Riff Raff's

360 Park Ave. South
New York, NY
(212) 951-7111

This basement lounge underneath The Hurricane Club, a Polynesian-themed restaurant, mixes tiki culture with the nightclub party scene. Bottle service is replaced by tiki service, and drinks are served in oversized vessels ranging from plastic flamingo fountains to coconuts hanging from a portable palm tree. Don't be surprised if a conga line breaks out after midnight.

Otto's Shrunken Head

Otto's Shrunken Head
Credit: Otto's Shrunken Head

548 E. 14th St.
New York, NY
(212) 228-2240

Kitschy before it was cool again, this East Village haunt has a tiki-meets-punk bar feel that has made it popular over the years. The bar is decorated with bamboo and colorful blowfish lamps, and drinks here are cheap by New York standards. Drink a mai tai or a zombie from a tiki mug and, on most nights, catch live rockabilly or surf rock in the back room.

For the latest on NYC's bar and nightlife scene, follow us on Twitter!

Selena Ricks-Good writes about drinks and produces events as The Dizzy Fizz.


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