For the foreseeable future, you won’t be able to set off the Shameful Tiki Room’s smoke machine after ordering the Mystery Bowl. You won’t be sipping a Mai Tai under the palm trees and Edgar Leeteg black-velvet paintings of the Tiki Bar at the Waldorf. And forget about you and three friends slipping straws into a communal Scorpion bowl at Sneeki Tiki.
COVID-19 social distancing has ensured that, to enjoy your exotic cocktails of choice, you’re going to have to turn your own backyard—or deck or patio—into a personal tiki hideaway. Here are some pieces to help you create your own #StayAtHome Polynesian paradise.
Into your cups
Unless you’ve spent years acquiring vintage Trader Vic’s collectibles (a hand-painted ceramic coconut runs about $38.50 on the Etsy website), you’ll need the right authentic-looking vessels for lovingly crafted Zombies and Scorpions. Options range from the relatively affordable seafoam-green or black Easter Island mugs at the Cocktail Emporium website ($12) all the way up to the cred of the Beachbum Berry Bora Bora Bum ($66.99 at the Cocktail Kingdom website), in blue, orange, or green—the same version the cocktail legend and tiki-culture historian has used at his bar Latitude 29 in New Orleans. (Set them off with matching screaming-pink Beachbum Berry’s Tiki Cocktail Picks, $34.99 for 144.) For those with no time to mix, Final Touch clear tiki shot glasses pay tribute to four great Polynesian deities ($19.99 for a quartet). As much as hardcore purists will argue that pink and orange umbrellas are for tourists from Milwaukee, we found paper parasol picks, picture-perfect for your pineapple slices and house-made maraschinos (144 for $8.73 at Amazon.ca)
Light the night
Those with a backyard can pretend they’re at a Kauai beach bar with tiki torches; we like the double-duty mosquito-repellent citronella tiki-mask versions at Canadian Tire ($16.96 on sale), where old-school bamboo versions go for just $6.99. More balcony-friendly are lanternlike tropical bamboo outdoor patio lights ($58.63 for a string of 10 at Amazon.ca), or the warm-glowing Canvas pineapple string at the Canadian Tire website ($39.99 for nine feet’s worth). But basically any twinkle lights—raid your Christmas storage bin if you have to—are going to give you a night-on-Waikiki-Beach vibe.
You need to serve up drinks in style. For something more playful, check out Zazzle.ca’s selection of tiki-inspired trays, emblazoned with an array of Polynesian mask illos; our favourite is the Cocktail Time, a retro menu of old-time drinks like the Witches Brew and the Nui Nui (with a price list to match—$2.25 for a planter’s punch; $89.40.) Bamboo always gives a tropical feel to a patio; look for a bamboo version that has collapsible TV-tray-style legs so you can pack it away for winter (they start at about $124.99 at Wayfair.ca). And for a classic basic, check out Crate and Barrel’s sturdy wooden, rectangular Willoughby tray, which travels easily from your inside bar to your outdoor deck and looks retro-suave with a vintage shaker, ice bucket, and glasses on it ($79.95 and up, depending on size).
The bar is open
If money’s truly no object, entire tiki bars, complete with thatch panels and umbrellas, bring the Tonga Room to your backyard. Wayfair.ca’s Waite or Waller versions by Bayou Breeze (starting at $869.99) come with an L-shaped bar emblazoned with bamboo designs, and a grassy umbrella to throw shade; there are shelves and an in-shelf cooler for up to one case of drinks. At last check, the site also had a smaller thatched-roof mini-bar for $499.99 that, at a 38-inch width, could probably fit on a covered patio—and keeps you safely socially distanced behind the bar. As for the fog machines and Edgar Leeteg black-velvet art—sorry, you’re going to have to source your own.