Tiki 101: What You Need to Know About the Tropical Drink Style

To start, you'll be sipping it all summer long.

"If you're looking for the strictest definition of a tiki drink, it's a cocktail that was made up in a tiki bar," says Sierra Kirk, a bartender at Hale Pele in Portland, Oregon. "But some people think if you put a little umbrella in a tropical drink that it becomes a tiki drink. Not so. True tiki is all about escape—it's a real immersive experience. The drinks are supposed to be able to transport you to the point that you feel like you're right there on the beach in Maui."

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That's why you'll find places like Hale Pele planning out every minuscule facet of their tiki bars, right down to the perfect oceanic Martin Denny soundtrack. The majority of tiki drinks find their island-influenced roots in rum. Not your thing? Wrong: Tiki can convert even the biggest rum skeptics into believers.

"If you like whiskeys, try a rum Old-Fashioned," Kirk advises. "If you're into something like a vodka and cranberry juice, I'd suggest the Lapu Lapu." Tiki's reputation for flamboyant presentation and over-the-top garnishes doesn't hurt, either. Who can resist, as Kirk says, "drinks coming out in pineapples and on fire"?


2 oz. fresh orange juice

1 oz. fresh lemon juice

1 oz. passionfruit syrup [try BG Reynolds Passionfruit Syrup]

¾ oz. vanilla syrup [try Sonoma Syrup Co. Vanilla Bean Syrup]

1 oz. dark rum [try Cruzan Estate Diamond Dark Rum]

1 oz. light rum [try Brugal Especial Extra Dry White Rum]

Pineapple frond and Bordeaux cherry for garnish


In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients and shake with ice cubes. Pour into a goblet, and garnish with both a pineapple frond and a Bordeaux cherry. Enjoy! (This recipe was originally printed in the book Beachbum Berry Remixed by Jeff "Beachbum" Berry.)

A version of this article appears in the June issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands now.