20 Places to Find Tiki Drinks in Boston
Put on your sunglasses, and grab a straw.
In a post-World War II California, Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s were the first restaurants to combine fresh juices, island inspiration, and overproof rum together to create the very American art form that is tiki bar culture. Their drinks became iconic, with bright fruit flavors, fun glassware and garnish, and party-fueling strength.
At cocktail dens around the city, Boston bartenders pay homage with their own spins on quintessential cocktails like Mai Tais, Fog Cutters, and Zombies. And in 2018, the scene is setting sail with dedicated tiki bars, and nontraditional riffs that make an island adventure attainable any time of year. Put on your sunglasses, and grab a straw.
Area Four Boston and A4cade
The elevated bar program at Area Four’s South End location has several stylized sippers, like the Tyler Headbanger (pictured), with vodka, Galliano, smoked pineapple syrup, orgeat, and lemon; and the delightful Malibu Beach Barbie, served inside a bucket of sand. Bar manager Tainah Soares is also to thank for the sister arcade’s outrageous bar program, including a full Gettin’ Tiki With It menu.
264 E Berkeley St., South End, Boston, 857-317-4805; 292 Mass Ave., Cambridge, 617-714-3960, areafour.com.
A true hideaway, this tiny lounge is tucked down a hallway behind a nearly unmarked door. Inside, you’ll find any manner of libation, and a talented team willing to whip up the tiki drink of your dreams. A fun house riff is the Jungle Beer, which subs Plantation Pineapple Rum and Coors Banquet Beer for the bitter Bird’s typical rum and juice.
7 Sanborn Court, Union Square, Somerville, 617-718-0249, backbarunion.com.
Banyan Bar + Refuge
A modern Asian gastropub would not be complete without some tiki style, and the Gallows Group does not disappoint. The house Painkiller, with five-spice infused rum, is on draft; and there are a slew of tiki-style drinks on the menu, including a shareable, flaming Samurai Bowl with dark rum, pineapple, lime, Velvet falernum, and Campari.
553 Tremont St., South End, Boston, 617-556-4211, banyanboston.com.
As one would expect from a coastal Italian-inspired restaurant, the drinks here skew toward spritzes and negroni. But beverage director Ryan Lotz also loves tiki drinks—so much that he’s teaming up with Bar Mezzana owners to open a veritable tiki bar called Shore Leave later this year. In the meantime, this team can also make you something fresh and tropical, like the Amaro di Cocco, a piña colada/negroni hybrid.
Bartender Ran Duan made a name for himself when he created a Trader Vic’s-style tiki tavern called the Baldwin Bar at his parents’ Sichuan Garden II in Woburn. He recently revamped the bar at the family’s original Sichuan Garden in Brookline, with tropical libations highlighting Latin American spirits. Try the Angie Valencia, with Colombian aguardiente, Aperol, papaya, and makrut lime; and Caracas Express, with Santa Teresa rum, Lustau sherry, and brown butter banana.
295 Washington St., Brookline, 617-734-1870, blossombarbrookline.com.
Celebrity chef Ming Tsai’s East-West tapas pair perfectly with a full menu of tiki classics and house originals, like Polynesian Spell, with Privateer Tiki Gin, peach liqueur, lemon, and grape juice; plus a handful of large-format, shareable drinks. Of course there’s a pupu platter.
324 A St., Fort Point, Boston, bluedragonbos.com.
Don’t let the lack of a tiki menu fool you—there is no cocktail menu here. The masters behind the bar know their stuff, whether you want a Mai Tai, a Jungle Bird, or a tiki-style creation of their furthest imagination. Just let your bartender know what you like (even if that’s “fun tiki drink!”), and leave it up to them.
348 Congress St., Fort Point, Boston, 617-695-1806, drinkfortpoint.com
Another classic Boston cocktail den that might not have a tiki drink on the menu when you arrive. But even if it’s not listed, the Marshall Island Swizzle, created by Scott Marshall, is a house favorite they can always stir up with Plantation 5-Year Barbados rum, lime, ginger, and bitters. In the summers, the Kenmore patio opens for festive Swizzle Sundays, too.
500A Commonwealth Ave., Kenmore Square, Boston, 617-532-9150, thehawthornebar.com.
The former East Coast Grill keeps the thatched décor and bright island-life murals of its predecessor—and it ups the cocktail game in a big way. Bartender Joe McGuirk, who created sister spot Highland Kitchen’s legendary Fried and Tiki Monday series, is behind a list of classics here. The rum-bum mugs (pictured) may be filled with the Long Suffering Bastard, with bourbon, gin, brandy, and a house-made ginger beer; a salted lime slushie; and more.
1271 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-714-4662, highlandfried.com.
Tim and Nancy Cushman’s Verb Hotel tavern takes some inspiration from the mid-century Chinese restaurants that made tiki A Thing, but it twists that idea like a bendy straw with Japanese-inspired flavors and a lot of rock ‘n’ roll. Bar manager Daren Swisher—most always donning a Hawaiian shirt—has a sesame-tinged Mai Tai, frozen drinks, and more. Plus, there are sips “for the band,” like Jasper’s Rum Punch (pictured): It’s literally a bucket of Wray & Nephew Overproof rum, lime, sugar, nutmeg, and bitters.
1271 Boylston St., the Fenway, Boston, 617-670-0507, hojokoboston.com.
How can we not shout out this Polynesian mecca? Do you still have a vintage, branded mug in your cabinet? Do your grandparents? This world famous, Saugus restaurant has been in the same family since 1958, shaking up all manner of strong, Polynesian cocktails. Very little has changed, and that’s a good thing.
948 Broadway, Saugus, 781-233-0077, kowloonrestaurant.com.
Co-owner and bartending lifer Jarek Mountain has a giant menu of classic cocktails, including tiki drinks. But a favorite since day one is the house creation called Paul Rudd’s Hawaiian Name in Forgetting Sarah Marshall—yes, it’s really called that—with aged and Jamaican rums, coconut-washed Luxardo bitters, Velvet falernum, Donn’s mix (a classic tiki syrup), mint syrup, pineapple, and lime.
354 Harrison Ave., South End, Boston, 857-239-9276, lionstailboston.com.
Rum was very important to Colonial New Englanders, and it’s important at this “East Coast revival” restaurant, too. Bar manager Jon Theris does his own Queen’s Park Swizzle, with Rhum Barbancourt, Hamilton 151, Demerara syrup, lime, Angostura, and a bouquet of fresh mint.
660 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-945-2576, loyalninecambridge.com.
Tiki is all about escapism, and there is no better example here than this new, downtown cocktail bar. Tropical rains rush over backlit Polynesian scenes in the entryway, while the sushi bar itself has some real docked-pirate ship vibes. The cocktail menu, led by bartender Charles Smedile, is loaded with fresh juices and syrups comprising drinks that cite their sources—Don the Beachcomber c. 1940s, Trader Vic’s c. 1950, Soggy Dollar Bar c. 1971, and Tiki Rock 2017.
2 Broad St., Boston, 617-670-0107, tikirock.com.
As Chinatown’s first modern cocktail bar, this spot ushered into the historic ’hood a range of Asian-inspired drinks featuring Japanese whiskeys, spirits infused with teas and Thai basil, and, yes, tiki-inspired tipples. The Loneliest Monk—with rums, pineapple, lime, and Frangelico—is named for the hermit monk who, according to legend, invented the latter liqueur.
9A Tyler St., Chinatown, Boston, 617-423-7888, shojoboston.com.
Sumiao Hunan Kitchen
The area’s first dedicated Hunan restaurant has a boisterous bar program to match the bright, bold flavors of the menu. There’s a Hunan-style Mai Tai with white and spiced rums, mixed juices, and a dark rum float; a shareable fish bowl; and more fun flavors.
270 Third St., Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-945-0907, sumiaohunan.com.
Celebrity chef Tiffani Faison’s love letter to Southeast Asia has not one, but two bars, and one of them is dedicated to tiki flair. Beverage manager Brian Callahan just added the Blue Hawaii Five-0, with Privateer Silver, lemongrass shochu, soursop, blue Curacao, pineapple, and lime to the menu; and Nuoc Nuoc is another favorite, featuring aged cachaca, kalamansi, allspice, Averna, pineapple, lime, and soda.
1363 Boylston St., the Fenway, Boston, 617-425-6262, tigermamaboston.com
Bar manager Palmer Matthews, an alum of Drink (see above), brought a legit cocktail bar to his hometown when he helped open this Quincy Center spot. On his menu is a Tiki Getaway section, with a “Real McCoy” Mai Tai; a gin-spiked Saturn; and a “funky rum”-fueled Jamaican Painkiller.
1250 Hancock St., Quincy Center, 617-481-9694, thetownshend.com.
Yellow Door Taqueria
A true tequila bar, that doesn’t stop this Lower Mills spot from getting tiki with it. The Mega Mai Tai, created by bartender Irvin “Swirvy” Rivas, uses Tanteo jalapeño tequila, grapefruit, spiced pineapple syrup, lime, and Campari.
2297 Dorchester Ave., Boston, 857-267-4201, yellowdoortaqueria.com.