There’s no elegant way to describe it.  This summer was fucking hot and stupid humid. Brutal heat and air-water that frequently collapsed us onto the nearest stool straining for the nearest beverage.

The only real cure we found: Tiki.  That’s right, Tiki.  Laugh now.  But when it’s tropical hell, live tropical well.

My goal this summer was to hit every tiki bar in the five boroughs.  No chance in retrospect, but I hit a bunch.  Sarah sent me this list of NYC tiki past, present, and future.  Best intentions laid a plan for a communal tiki hunt, but like many things, I ended up going it alone.


Otto’s Shrunken Head is grim in all the right ways.  From the music to the sticky tables to the inky skin, Ottos has become a staple.  Fair warning, the drinks taste more like fuel than fruit.  And may glow.

The Zombie Hut is completely solid.  Cheap tasty drinks of the frozen and rocks variety and no one messed with me despite crashing a packed private party and occupying pole bar position.

The Distinguished Wakamba Cocktail Lounge is, in Middlekauf parlance, the Most Disrespectful Wakamba Bullshit.  Don’t go.  Not tiki.


The crown jewel of this lot is Painkiller, which owns the inspired slogan: “Manhattan is the greatest island on earth.”  This place rules with deadly handcrafted cocktails, including Zombies authentic to the original 1930s Don Beach version.  I witnessed them take down some extremely experienced pals.

And according to my five seconds of blurry research, more tikis are coming.

The Hurricane Club opens this month and Lani Kai opens in October.  Next DBD tour is towns with tikis only.

Although not a true tiki, the nautical Rusty Knot serves an outstanding Dark & Stormy, and in a touristy tiki mug.


After painstaking research, DBD officially endorses the Zombie @ Painkiller with the Ultimate Peter Tosh Experience (“give me back me zebra!”).

And so we retire the summer of rum punch…




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