No Home Tiki Bar is complete without fresh fruit, fun little accessories, & the right glasses to serve them in! Show off your fabulous creations with these bright & beautiful tropical touches.
This is part three of a series on how to build your own Home Tiki Bar, with a focus on the signature showmanship and elements of flare used to garnish each cocktail. For a full overview of the series, start here.
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Tiki drinks are all about flare and showmanship. Part of this comes from unique ingredients, complicated recipes, and the flamboyant methods bartenders use behind the bar. The other part comes from the fun little extras – leafy garnishes, colorful swizzle sticks, fancy picks, and bits of fresh fruit. While not every bartender need go so far as to make a cinnamon-stick-smoking banana dolphin, there are a variety of ways to make your cocktail stand out.
Fresh Fruit & Leafy Produce
No matter your exact recipe, you can rarely go wrong with fresh lime wedges and wheels, pineapple fronds and slices, and large handfuls of fragrant mint leaves when garnishing a Tiki Cocktail. I’d even venture that as long as you have those on hand, you are well on your way to making the most rudimentary Tiki drinks look (and taste!) fabulous.
Stepping It Up:
If it feels even remotely tropical, it’s going to work as a fresh garnish on a Tiki Cocktail. Hollowed out pineapples and coconut shells make awe-inspiring “glassware”. Orchids and other flowers add pops of lovely color. Kiwis, dragon fruit, oranges, bananas, whole spices – every one would be a beautiful way to set your drinks apart.
Gourmet Cocktail Cherries
Is any bar complete without cocktail cherries? I’d say no!
Darker and more flavorful than your commercial maraschino cherries, gourmet cocktail cherries aren’t only a must for your Home Tiki Bar, but an essential component for any bartender serious about making their cocktails. Some tried and true brands are Luxardo and Jack Rudy, available online and in higher end liquor stores.
Stepping It Up:
If you feel ambitious, making your own homemade bourbon soaked cherries is even better, and I always make two or three batches each summer to satisfy my bar needs. They also make extravagant gifts for your cocktail loving friends and family over the holiday season.
Fun Swizzle Sticks & Cocktail Picks
- These bamboo cocktail picks are a perfectly pretty (and completely biodegradable) option for skewering a cherry to a pineapple frond or balancing a piece of fruit over the rim of a glass.
- Fun paper or wheat-based Hay! Straws are inexpensive and will look lovely in all of your Instagram photos (I’m personally really loving the latter, as they don’t get soggy and have a nice texture).
- And let’s face it, you can never go wrong with tiny paper umbrellas, available online and in discount stores.
Stepping It Up:
If you can dream it, a tiki drink has held it.
Years ago, my friends and I became utterly entranced with a Tiki Bar in Tallahassee, Florida because it added these little plastic monkeys to each drink. In searching them out, I found little mermaids too!
Cocktail picks can be swashbuckling swords, simple black arrows, or even reusable metal spears found in all sorts of home stores. This is your chance to be creative! For even more options, I found this fabulous website.
Glassware & Ceramic Tiki Mugs
They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes the glass a bartender chooses can say a lot, both about their craftsmanship and the drink itself.
The coupe glass brings to mind pre-Prohibition glamour and post-Prohibition speakeasies. Highball and rocks glasses have a decidedly masculine feel. Martini glasses can almost have two characters – if the contents are clear with a few olives, my mind instantly goes to 1950’s casinos and the phrase “shaken, not stirred”. Fill it with something bright green or pink, and suddenly it’s a ladies’ day out in the early 1990’s.
In the world of Tiki, few things are as iconic as the signature ceramic mugs, and you’ll see bars across the country begin to adopt some signature styles as they serve their own tiki drinks. Fashioned to evoke the totemic religious figures of Polynesian culture, current tiki “deities” have taken on characters of their own, far removed from their (decidedly appropriative) origins. Today, tiki mugs encompass all sorts of figural vessels, taking the shape of everything from pirates to mermaids, sea shells to barrels, and even stylized pop culture icons.
Two suggestions for showcasing your Tiki cocktails are easy to fine, and may even already be in your cabinets:
Buying new glass- or ceramic-ware for every genre of party you want to throw can get expensive, fast. I know from experience. As you start dipping your toes into Tiki Culture, this is an area you can easily show some restraint in. Tiki cocktails will taste just as delicious in a clear glass as they do in a ceramic mug, and sometimes showing off those bright and beautiful layers of color is exactly what you want to do.
- Half-Pint (8 oz) Jelly Jars are being used in all sorts of restaurants (and weddings!) as glassware for water and cocktails. Inexpensive and endlessly reusable, these jars are a nice size for a drink and look pretty all lined up and filled with a variety of colored drinks.
- High Ball & Hurricane Glasses are good standbys for any cocktail party. The height gives you the space to add picks, garnishes, and plenty of ice, and the drink will look pretty through the glass.
Stepping It Up:
There are so many directions you can go if you want to start a collection of Tiki mugs! From vintage vessels, to newly designed creations, to mugs featuring your favorite comic book and mythological characters, it’s out there. Here are a few links I’ve come across, but if you find any others you think are fabulous, please let me know in the comments!
- Tiki-Head Glassware
- Classically Totemic Ceramic Mugs from BarConic.
- Mondo’s Special Edition “Nerdy” Tee-ki Mugs, like this awesome Cthulhu Mug.
- Featuring everything from comic book characters to the mermaid and kraken mugs in the photos here, GeekiTikis are making some really fun modern mugs, too.
And that concludes the third and final installment in my series on How to Build a Home Tiki Bar! I could go on and on about Tiki drinks, but these tips and tricks should get you started in what is absolutely my latest obsession. Now go forth and get #TikiWeird!