How’s your cocktail bucket list coming along?
By now, you’ve hopefully started chipping away at some of the traditional classics, like the Old Fashioned and Manhattan. Well, we’ve got a few more to add to the list—and right in time for summer.
Tiki cocktails aren’t a new fabrication. They’ve been around as an official category of cocktails since the 1930s. And while they may now remind you of Caribbean resorts and kitschy bars, many of the most famous Polynesian potions were born in California, thanks to the original tiki masters Donn Beach and Victor Bergeron, and were made without artificial sweeteners.
When made correctly, these elixirs are as good as any cocktail made by super old-time bartenders like Jerry Thomas—especially when you consider the unusual glassware and over-the-top adornments. Go on, take a trip to paradise with the five tiki cocktails you have to try before you die.
1. MAI TAI
It’s not known who exactly invented this drink. Some say it was dreamt up by tiki pioneer Victor Bergeron in 1944; others say it was the father of tiki, Donn Beach. Sure, the Mai Tai can be a little sweet, but that’s only to offset the flavors of aged rum, lime juice and orgeat. A great Mai Tai is far from cloying and a must-try for any tiki enthusiast.
2. FOG CUTTER
Feeling a little under the weather? Perhaps you’re trying to push off last night’s hangover? Fortunately for you, the Fog Cutter is true to its name. It’s also not clear who invented this tried-and-true tropical concoction, but the mixture of rum, brandy, citrus juices, orgeat and sherry is both unexpected (sherry and brandy in a tiki cocktail?) and unforgettable.
3. BERMUDA RUM SWIZZLE
Often called the unofficial national drink of Bermuda, the Rum Swizzle predates both Donn Beach and Victor Bergeron. Its history, however, is still murky. Likely invented somewhere in the Caribbean, this mixture of black and gold rums, orange and pineapple juices, grenadine and Angostura bitters is as tropical and refreshing as a cool ocean breeze on a steamy beach day.
4. PIÑA COLADA
If there’s one cocktail on this list you’ve probably tried already, there’s a good chance it’s the classic, blended Piña Colada. The tropical cocktail is made with a super-simple blend of rum, pineapple and coconut milk. It’s enough to transport you to paradise—but, honestly, there’s no need to get caught in the rain.
It’s true: A few of these cocktails and all your pains will drift away. This four-ingredient twist on the traditional Piña Colada comprises rum, pineapple and orange juices and cream of coconut. Fruity, yes, but the juice is handily fresh-squeezed. A little fresh nutmeg sprinkled over top and you’re in tiki heaven.