Never judge a drink by its umbrella. The Polynesian potions we commonly call tiki drinks are venerable classics in the eyes of Julie Reiner, beverage director and owner of Clover Club and Leyenda, both in Brooklyn, New York. “Tiki cocktails have a history that stretches back to the 1930s, so they have classic cocktail street cred,” beams Reiner. “But where some classic cocktails can sometimes feel a little old-timey and buttoned up, tiki drinks, with their colorful garnishes and kitschy glassware, never take themselves too seriously.” These juicy and refreshing tiki recipes are a great way for whisky to let loose. After all, why should rum have all the fun?
With its gorgeous ruby hue, this bourbon-based cocktail begs to be photographed.
Combine rye and rum for a cocktail that’s bright with citrus and strengthened by oak.
Leaf & Bean
Update the standard Old Fashioned with the addition of spicy and robust Hawaiian coffee.
This variation on the Piña Colada puts two types of scotch at the center.
Use these syrups, liqueurs, and bitters from natural ingredients to make authentic island drinks.
“This almond syrup that typically has a floral marzipan-like note is the linchpin ingredient in a Mai Tai,” Reiner explains. She recommends T’Orgeat.
A type of rum-based syrup/liqueur flavored with almonds, ginger, lime peel, and clove. Orgeat Works makes a great one, says Reiner.
This pomegranate syrup isn’t hard to make yourself. If you don’t want to DIY, Reiner suggests Small Hands Foods.
A potent allspice liqueur used to lend that all-important spice note to tiki cocktails. Look for St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram online or at retailers.
True orange curaçao is made with a brandy base and infused with orange peels from the Dutch island of Curaçao. Reiner likes Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao.
A broadly defined style of bitters that features citrus and spice flavors like ginger, cinnamon, and clove. Bittermens ‘Elemakule Tiki Bitters is a standard.