Tiki is often still associated with sugary boat drinks and post-World War II kitsch. But the current tiki revival proves there are a staggering number of amazing drinks — and fun — to be had digging through the Polynesian party archives.
Tiki presaged the garden-to-glass movement by a good 70 years. Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, aka Don the Beachcomber, and his rival Victor J. Bergeron, aka Trader Vic, created some of the most culinary of all concoctions, featuring multiple fresh ingredients and novel combinations.
Merchant brings some of these gems to light with a weekly tiki session beginning at 9 p.m. every Tuesday. The curious can sample everything from a Nui Nui to a Volcano Bowl.
The Nui Nui is a good example of a tiki drink with complexity. Rum is combined with cinnamon syrup, vanilla syrup, some fresh OJ and lime juice, plus allspice dram (sometimes called pimento dram) for an aromatic mood lifter.
Another highlight, the Three Dots and a Dash cocktail (above), was named after the Morse code for “V” (as in “victory”). Don the Beachcomber created it for GIs returning after World War II, and it’s a tasty sip of history, garnished with three cherries and a pineapple spear.