I guess we are technically on an island.
March 20, 2013 12:03 PM   Subscribe

Give me your recommendations for tiki bars in NYC.

A friend and I want to try all of NYC's tiki bars/lounges in 2013, notable or otherwise. We're aware of and have visited a couple of the well-known ones, but I know there are ones we're missing that have a low Internet profile.

Internet searches have been helpful to a point, but also raise the specter of bars that had a short lifespan and are now closed. Rather than continue to read listicles from 2010 and get my hopes up about a bar only to find it's been closed for a year and a half, I'd love your recommendations.

What we're looking for:
- A strong atmosphere is a must. We're open to lots of different moods here (like Otto's Shrunken Head midcentury-tiki-meets-punk vibe) but we're not looking for bars that serve drinks with umbrellas and are otherwise straight down the middle.
- Upscale is fine, divey is great. Loud and quiet, scene-y and laid back are all fine. We just want to go and have some drinks and hang out.
- We'll go anywhere in the five boroughs.

What we're not looking for:
- A beach bar atmosphere that's more East Coast/New England/Hamptons-esque. We're specifically looking for Trader Vic's-style tiki and variations on that particular theme.
- Reunion in the west 40s was okay, but a little more generically surf bar than what we're looking for.

Bars we've already been to or already have on the list:
- Otto's Shrunken Head, as previously mentioned
- Painkiller
- Zombie Hut

posted by superfluousm to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
If you ever happen to find yourself out in Staten Island, there is Jade Island. It's in an ugly strip mall and the bar is situated in the corner of a polynesian restaurant (the food is terrible). But at over 40 years old, it's one of the oldest authentic tiki bars in NYC.
posted by cazoo at 12:14 PM on March 20, 2013

Critiki and TikiCentral are going to be good places to check for information. Critiki has a New York state page and a New York city page-- it looks like The Hurricane Club is one in NYC that's still open.
posted by Kpele at 12:16 PM on March 20, 2013

Is the downstairs bar at Niagara still tiki-themed? Does "tiki-themed" even count for your purposes?
posted by Grither at 12:24 PM on March 20, 2013

Depends on how half-assed the theme is - if it's just tiki torches and otherwise a normal bar in terms of drinks and music, I wouldn't count it.

But in general, yes, I would be interested in tiki rooms/sections/lounges in normal bars and restaurants provided the commitment to the theme is fairly strong.
posted by superfluousm at 12:34 PM on March 20, 2013

I am pretty sure that the "tiki" bar below Niagara is gone, and I believe that space is now part of Cabin Down Below.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 12:34 PM on March 20, 2013

There's always Surf Bar in Williamsburg. It has sand on the ground!
posted by functionequalsform at 12:53 PM on March 20, 2013

IF your ever on long island you can visit the offkey tiki in Patchogue. I thought it was pretty cool.

posted by majortom1981 at 12:57 PM on March 20, 2013

The Trailer Park Lounge has a certain amount of tiki vibe to it. Fun place.
posted by Dr. Wu at 1:45 PM on March 20, 2013

The Rusty Knot is tiki-esque. Nautical theme, lotsa bamboo. Mixed drink list is primarily of the tiki variety eg zombies, mai tais - which can be made into a scorpion bowl with a little flame and all the mini flamingos.

I've never had a bad time at the Rusty Knot.
posted by rdnnyc at 1:59 PM on March 20, 2013

Bars with both great old school tiki atmosphere and with recipes true to the spirit of Don The Beachcomber and Trader Vic are rare. Most of the places with the kitschy atmosphere don't really do balanced drinks with fresh ingredients made from multiple rums and layering of juices. You can find the kitsch fairly easily if you have access to a car and are willing to drive outside the city. The latter is far, far trickier. RIP Lani Kai.

The drinks are best at PKNY (formerly known as Painkiller). The drinks are passable at Otto's and Zombie Hut. Usually too sugar-y. (Though I do like the fireplace at Zombie Hut.)

Definitely take a trip to Jade Island if you want kitsch. Just know that a lot of these strip places which have tiki decor still are making their mai tais from giant bottles of manufactured mixes.

I'm guessing Queen Yum in Queens is similar but I haven't been yet.

The crowd is terrible at chi-chi Hurricane Club (faux clubby B&T), and the drinks are terrible as well. Lots of vodka drinks, no jiggering, bartenders that could give a crap. Their menu only bears a passing resemblance to real tiki drinks. It's across from my office, but I only go there on someone else's dime.

Roberta’s Tiki Bar is a tiki bar in name, really. Very little actual tiki decor.

If you like a well-made drink, then the only real destinations in the five boroughs are PKNY and Tiki Mondays with Brian Miller at Gold Bar.
posted by kathryn at 6:09 PM on March 20, 2013

I've never been there, but I've heard good things about One Last Shag in Bed-Stuy.
posted by quatsch at 2:44 PM on March 21, 2013

Thanks, all, some great additions to our to-do list.

I want kathryn to give up her day job and become a full time tiki cultural historian.
posted by superfluousm at 12:06 PM on March 22, 2013

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