It feels appropriate to drink something out of a coconut or pineapple or flaming ceramic volcano during warmer months, yet these six tiki bars imbue tropical vibes all year round. Before summer truly leaves us, or even as fall sets in, hunker down in paradise, preferably by way of something rum-based.
Ballard, with its maritime heritage and preponderance of craft cocktails, might be the missing link between Seattle and tiki. Here, some of the guys behind Ocho and Hazlewood have opened Hotel Albatross, where Edison bulbs dangle over bartenders affixing tiny umbrellas on orders of pineapply puka punch and the vibe is part Canon, part Cast Away. The bar food hops from puffy tacos to totchos to Instagrammable poke creations at its adjacent No Vancacy Poke raw bar. Original rum creations and drinks from America’s earliest tiki days are resurrected with perfect balance, yes, even the flaming volcano bowl for four.
This cocktail bar sibling to No Anchor and Rob Roy puts a modern spin on tiki, via sleek midcentury decor and a drink list that mixes classics (zombies, mai tais) with modern creations inspired by tropical flavors. Chef Jeffrey Vance’s food menu is heavy on crudo, fancy chips and dip, and dishes inspired by whatever spot on the globe currently holds court on the drink menu—every six months, Navy Strength celebrates the flavor profiles of a new country.
The palm-thatched, bamboo-adorned evolution of the No Bones About It vegan food truck has morphed into a fully formed coastal-inspired plant-based restaurant in Ballard. Seattle has its fair share of dreary weather to be sure, so No Bones Beach Club was born, a bastion of tiki-inspired cocktails and an oasis of paradise. Truly, it doesn’t get more offbeat than vegan tiki bar: Surfboards hang on the walls, Blue Crush plays on the TV over the bar, and just about every table has a towering plate of nachos, with cashew and smoked poblano faux queso as a decadent stand-in for the real thing. It’s food even an omnivore can love, and you’d have to be made of stone to resist a boat drink (painkillers, jungle birds, a creamy coconut mojito) bedecked with a paper umbrella.
Tango’s rum-focused sibling bar exudes a languorous Havana vibe and fashions its signature spirit into a festive tiki drink, four perfectly balanced types of daiquiri on shaved ice, or something deep, dark, and moody as Papa Hemingway on a bad bender. Latin-tinged bar food includes spicy-sweet wings that are smoked, then fried, and tacos with sophisticated fillings like sauteed summer squash and pork dusted with peppery achiote. Save room for a sipping rum to finish off the night; a seat at the bar doubles as a fascinating seminar in the spirit’s regional nuances.
It was open for a decade in Queen Anne next door to its cocktail lounge sibling Tini Bigs. But in April, this longstanding tiki-karaoke bar—that would sling tropical drinks 365 days a year regardless of any chilly weather outside its doors—opened in its new home on Capitol Hill. Off East Olive Way, this den of Polynesian kitsch serve up island-themed bites and tiki cocktails fuel karaoke vocalists who sip on mai tais and daiquiris between renditions of REM's "Creep" or "Hot in Herre" by Nelly.
With the Sun Liquor Distillery and Lounge on Pike/Pine no longer serving up its own eponymous batches of vodka, gin, and rum, it’s back to the original. This Sun Liquor, first of its name, is situated on that surprising block of food and drink among the lush trees and stately brick apartments on the north end of Summit—a den hidden in a forgotten corner of the tropics. The first Tuesday of every month is Tiki Tuesday, but you can’t help but feel like any given day at any given hour would birth the most thoughtful of tiki drinks. Take a daiquiri done right, for instance, made with Sun Liquor barrel-aged rum, fresh lime juice, pineapple juice, and ginger, straight up. No matter the time or weather in Seattle, find hints of paradise here: the tiki cocktails, the bamboo furniture, exotic wall murals of unknown locales.