Drinks By Post From The Buffalo Logo

Huh, Tiki?

What’s Tiki when it’s at home?

When we created our Tiki Cocktail Collection the most common question was ‘What is Tiki?’. So here is a beginners guide.

Tiki is not just a style of drink, it is a culture. The Tiki phenomenon is HUGE in North America, having undergone an epic resurgence of late, yet it is talked about very little on our side of the pond.

Tiki Drinks In The Sunshine With Pink Flamingos

Tiki culture as we know it, was pretty much the creation of just two men – Don The Beachcomber and Trader Vic, defined as the style of drinks, food and decor inspired by American image of Polynesian and South Pacific cultures.

Born Ernest Gantt, but later changing his name legally to Donn Beach and preferring to go by Don The Beachcomber, Donn opened his first Hollywood bar in 1933. Inspired by his travels in The South Pacific the decor of the bar was themed around the items he had collected on his travels and while working on film sets. The drinks were tropical, being full of exotic juices and laced with Rum

Victor Bergeron opened his first bar in Oakland in 1934 named Hinky Dink’s, and inspired by Don The Beachcomber’s success the menu and decor evolved to become ever more tropically themed. Around 1940 the bar’s name changed to Trader Vic’s (Bergeron’s nickname) and one of the greatest ever cocktail rivalries was born.

The Hurricane Cocktail

The Hurricane is a cocktail classic straight out of New Orleans. Orange, lime & passionfruit laced with Rum – think alcoholic Solero.

Mai Tai Cocktail

“The Mai Tai is one of the most misinterpreted drinks in the world”

The two argued endlessly about their claims over the creation of certain drinks, styles and the eponymous Tiki Glassware. When Trader Vic created the Mai Tai in 1944 Don The Beachcomber insisted that the inspiration and flavour profile came directly from the QB Cooler he created in 1933 (a bit of a stretch as the QB Cooler also contained ginger, honey, OJ and soda). Frustrated by these accusations Trader Vic wrote in his ‘Bartenders Guide’ that “Anyone who says I didn’t create this drink is a dirty stinker”.

The waters were so muddied by constant argument that it is hard to know for sure, but Don The Beachcomber is widely accepted as the father of Tiki culture and creator of such drinks as The Zombie, Three Dots And A Dash and Navy Grog whilst Trader Vic is credited with the popularisation of Tiki mugs as well as creation of the Mai Tai and the Fogcutter. It is likely that without the competition and rivalry of these two men Tiki culture would never have evolved.

What we do know is that post-prohibition America couldn’t get enough of these exuberant and luxurious bars. Both their drinks and decor couldn’t have been more different to the culture of bootlegging and speakeasies that they had endured under the era of prohibition. The American love affair with Polynesian culture grew and grew, and when American servicemen returned from their World War 2 duties in the South Pacific regions the Tiki craze exploded. So much so that supposedly world supplies of Rum became significantly depleted by US demand.

The Tiki obsession continued until the early 1970s, when it fell out of favour to be replaced with Disco culture and its associated fashions. Tiki culture all but disappeared in this period as quickly as it had arrived, with Tiki bars becoming few and far between. And so they stayed until the Craft Cocktail Revival of the1990s and early 2000s turned its attention back to this complex and often misunderstood style of drink. The last 15 or so years have seen a huge revival of tropical drinks, with San Francisco’s ‘Smugglers Cove’ Tiki bar being voted America’s Best Cocktail Bar in 2016.

Pina Colada Cocktail

The Piña Colada is one of the best known Tiki drinks

Top Quality Cocktails, Delivered.

Drinks By Post from The Buffalo

Each cocktail kit contains ALL the ingredients you need to make and enjoy 5 different double measure cocktails at home, and all for less than an night at the pub.

Our tried and tested recipes, pre-measured ingredients and professional tips and techniques will give you the confidence and skills to have you shaking things up like a pro in no time. Not only do our cocktail kits make the perfect night in, they are the ideal gift for friends, family, partners and the ‘hard to buy for’ people in your life.

Friday night, date night, night in, night out, birthdays, anniversaries, house warming, special occasions or just because. The experience that is sure to be enjoyed.