Get positively Polynesian on your next night out with friends in Los Angeles with a visit to world-famous Tiki-Ti. This family-owned tiki bar on Sunset Boulevard has been serving up tropical drinks and good times since 1961, drawing a mix of scenesters and nostalgia seekers with its creative menu, friendly staff, and kitschy, one-of-a-kind atmosphere.
When you walk in, it might take a moment for your eyes to adjust. Souvenirs and ephemera from the South Pacific are everywhere, with paintings of Polynesian princesses playing the ukulele on the walls and fierce-looking tiki idols staring down from every shelf. Once you’re settled in, you’ll find an intimate setting with just a dozen bar stools. Take that as a cue to mix, mingle, and buy a stranger a drink, because what Tiki-Ti lacks in size, it makes up for with a massive menu of nearly 100 tropical cocktails. As you and your friends scan a list of drinks dreamed up over decades, you’ll feel like you’ve been let in on a secret. In a way, you have, as many date back to Tiki-Ti’s founder, Ray Buhen, who bartended for tiki legend Don the Beachcomber in the early 1930s. (It’s said that Buhen always made his cockails in the kitchen, so nobody could copy the recipes.)
As for your selections, a fog cutter would make a good start, with a mix of rum, gin, brandy, and citrus juices taking your taste buds to the tropics. Or brave an encounter with a great white shark (rum, passion fruit, lime). Those looking for drama can order the blood and sand, which involves a bartender pouring rum from a bull’s head while a robotic toy bull marches and up and down the bar. If you simply can’t decide, spin the “Wheel of Tiki-Ti drinks,” a carnival-style attraction that always draws cheers from the crowd. But every first-timer should give the mai tai a try. It’s a beachfront classic, with white rum, dark rum, orange curaçao, orgeat syrup, and lime juice creating a Tahitian sunset in a glass.
As you sip your sweet, satisfying, and just a little bit tacky drinks, soak in one of the most welcoming vibes in town. You and your friends may have come to Tiki-Ti for mai tais, but you’re staying for its entertaining presentations, energy-infused atmosphere, and all the new friends you’re making.