Over the summer, NYC saw a much needed boom in the tiki cocktail scene. With the East Village’s Mother of Pearl, the West Village’s The Happiest Hour—and the latter’s creative collaboration with the Sixty Hotel LES’ Tiki Tabu—all serving some of the city’s best mixed drinks. Tiki Tabu began as a summertime, rooftop pop-up with two open air balconies, but based on its success thus far, the space is staying open through the winter holidays. So if you’re wondering what happens to a tiki bar during a New York winter, the answer is a range of cocktails that seeks to invoke both tiki vibes and warming seasonal sensations. The following three hail from Tiki Tabu’s new menu and do exactly that.
Christmas in Tahiti
With scotch at its core, supported by cinnamon simple syrup, the base of this drink happens to have fall written all over it. It’s the fresh grapefruit juice and sweet vermouth, however, that bring it right back to tiki time. There’s a nice blend of citrus and spice here that makes for a dynamic mixed drink.
2 oz. Dewar’s Blended Scotch
.75 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
.75 oz. sweet vermouth
.25 oz. cinnamon simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake and serve in a martini glass with an orange or grapefruit peel garnish.
For those who love the illusion of a healthy cocktail, there’s nothing quite like the Witch Doctor, a vodka-based take on the new classic Penicillin. Between the lemon, honey and ginger, there’s something refreshing, and fortunately, the vodka doesn’t get in the way of all that. The ginger here is dynamic enough to lend seasonal spice notes while still allowing for the lift of the citrus.
2 oz. vodka
.5 oz. ginger syrup
.75 oz. fresh lemon juice
.5 oz. honey
Combine all ingredients. Stir. Serve over crushed ice in a rocks glass.
A crowning achievement (and definitely the best of both worlds), the Mai Chai gets served while on fire. Take all the chai tea seasonal associations and infuse them into rum—add a healthy dose of orange and lime juice and the drink is born. Resting atop the cocktail: a flaming shot of tiki go-to Velvet Falernum that can be poured into the drink once blown out.
2 oz. house-made chai infused rum
.75 oz. Velvet Falernum
.75 oz. fresh lime juice
.75 oz. fresh orange juice
2 dashes of tiki bitters
1 oz. Bacardi 151
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker except for the 151. Shake over ice. Pour 151 into hollowed lime half. Light on fire and place atop cocktail served in a tiki glass (or Collins glass if you’re feeling less festive).
Images by David Graver