Getting Tropical in NYC This Summer Means One Thing: Tiki Kitsch

Getting Tropical in NYC This Summer Means One Thing: Tiki Kitsch

If you live in New York City, the closest you might get to a tropical beach this summer is at the island of Manhattan’s (and its surrounding boroughs’) Tiki-themed bars. Lucky for those who enjoy drinking out of coconuts and savoring fruity-flavored rum, there are plenty of watering holes that fit this particular bill. Though the kitschy décor nearly overshadows the beverages at these surf-embracing venues, it’s the strong drinks that will beckon imbibers to return.

Surf Bar: Arguably one of the best bars in all of New York City (at least, according to me and my friends), Surf Bar has a highly laidback charm. Its sand-covered floors mark the exact kind of place that makes patrons feel comfortable shelling out $13 for a frozen cocktail. The surfer Barbie and Ken dolls riding the beer taps are almost as good as the frozen mojitos, which are bright green and conducive to sitting for a long time with your feet in the sand, though servers do recommend you keep your shoes on. (139 North 6th St., Brooklyn; 718-302-4441)

Réunion Surf Bar: Named after a premiere surf spot off the coast of Africa, Réunion boasts an all-wood interior with hanging bathing suits and scratched up signs “pointing” to the world’s beaches. On the menu, a drink called the Acid Drop, made of grapefruit vodka and grapefruit juice with a vanilla sugar rim, sidles up to Shark’s Blood, which includes grapefruit juice like its neighbor, but also boasts light rum, OJ, allspice liqueur, and a red wine float—meant to resemble the liquid for which it’s named. What’s a good surf bar without some hokey themed drinks, after all? (357 West 44th St.; 212-244-9045)

Otto’s Shrunken Head: Coming in a variety of tiki-shaped containers (keep the mug in exchange for your $5 deposit!), the drinks here do not beat around the bush when it comes to alcohol content. From the Stormy Skull, which mixes dark rum, coconut, and ginger to live up to its name, to an $8 shot with mysterious ingredients, bar goers here will almost definitely have to exit by stumbling. (538 East 14th St.; 212-228-2240)

169 Bar: Specializing in delights from the sea, such as shrimp, oysters, and crab, the large aquarium on view adds to the ocean-side mood rather than detracts from the enjoyment of crustaceans. Drinks like the Hurricane, made with passion fruit and rum, and the Cambodian Mojito, counting coconut, banana, and pineapple amongst its fruity accents, cement the tiki bar feel. (169 East Broadway; 646-833-7199)

Tropical 128: One of those bars that seems to expand as you enter the doorway, Tropical 128 brings patrons several varieties of island-inspired mimosa (from guava to pineapple) and a Whiskey River Sunrise that will thrill those who love whiskey and tiki bar kitsch. Multi-colored lights in an otherwise dim space and plenty of tropical-looking greenery will make drinkers feel like they may have just stepped out of Manhattan…and into a beach-style theme park. (128 Elizabeth St.; 212-925-8219)

The Rusty Knot:
With a drink menu that’s priced pretty reasonably for the expensive West Village, The Rusty Knot offers the usual selection of Mai Tai and Coladas available at bars of its ilk. The bar’s nautical atmosphere serves as a great venue for parties and isn’t too far from the Hudson River if you’re looking to get a view of water other than that in the Knot’s fish tank. (425 West St.; 212-645-5668)

Zombie Hut: With a significant outdoor area and flaming beverages, this Brooklyn bar may just take the cake in terms of tiki kitsch décor. From tiki statues that span the lengths of the walls to images of hula dancers and no shortage of drink umbrellas, Zombie Hut serves up some serious faux tropical vibes. The addition of board games presents an exciting challenge after you drink the Frozen Zombie, another fruity beverage, of course, with an alcohol content to take seriously and a candy-tasting rim. (273 Smith St., Brooklyn; 718-875-3433)

Photo via Réunion 


Tags: Cocktails, Outdoor Seating, Spirits
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