Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018 | 2 a.m.
Not for nothing is local bar owner P Moss’ book about tiki culture called “Liquid Vacation.” There’s something about a tall, cold, sweet tiki beverage that somehow turns this blistering heat into an asset. Las Vegas now boasts a variety of bars serving up island-style cocktails, and while not all of their drinks are served in tiki mugs or under thatched roofs, they all have the capacity to take your mind out of the desert and deposit it on a beach.
Frankie’s Tiki Room: The drinks served at this Medical District-adjacent bar may not have medicinal value, but if you’re completely fed up with Vegas’ summer heat and hassles, they’re good for what ails you.
Frankie’s serves up some of the most refreshing, most potent tiki drinks you’ll enjoy in this life, including some perfectly made classics dating back to the original menus of Don The Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s (the Mai Tai, the Navy Grog) and a number of originals (our current favorite: the Tiki Bandit, with its winning combination of craft rums, pineapple juice, passionfruit syrup and blue Curacao) that you can knock back from souvenir mugs. And don’t miss the art by Lynne Naylor, Shag, Crazy Al Evans and more.
Frankie’s Tiki Room is located at 1712 W. Charleston Blvd.
Starboard Tack: This all-but-hidden east side bar doesn’t necessarily look the part of an island hideaway, save for a few pieces of nautical-themed décor and a hand-painted signpost pointing the way to other, similar bars in distant ports-of-call, including Bangkok’s Teens of Thailand (8,275 miles away) and Vegas’ own Frankie’s (4 miles).
But the drink menu tells another story, with pure-summer cocktails like the Starboard Taquiri (Plantation Pineapple rum, lime, sugar and absinthe) and the Lucky Cat (Kikori whiskey, Allspice Dram, Togarashi vanilla syrup and rice milk). And the bar bites — most notably those Szechuan chimichurri beef, tom kha mushroom, coconut shrimp and Kung Pao chicken skewers — are without local peer.
Starboard Tack is located at 2601 Atlantic St.
The Golden Tiki: The Golden Tiki is less a bar and more a liquid theme park. Instagrammers come here and lose their hashtags over the grotto-styled walls, whimsical tiki carvings, prop skeletons, shrunken heads, vintage Disney collectibles, giant oyster-shell chair and ceiling of LCD “stars.” (Not to mention a knife that once belonged to Hunter S. Thompson, proudly displayed over the bar.)
Service industry folk come here to let their hair down after their casino shifts. Hipsters come here for the burlesque performances and for the live surf, garage and exotica beats.
And you should go there for the refreshments, which range from the gentle (you can get a Dole Whip here) to the borderline flammable (Piranha Punch: Coruba Dark rum, apricot liqueur, fresh lime, orange and strawberry puree).
The Golden Tiki is located at 3939 Spring Mountain Road.
Tiki di Amore: Old-school Italian restaurant Casa di Amore might be the last place you’d think to look for a tiki bar, but that’s just where you’ll find this charmingly kitschy patio lounge.
Tiki di Amore offers a drink menu of time-tested tiki classics — the Blue Hawaiian, the Zombie, the Bermuda Rum Swizzle — and a food menu that includes tasty appetizers and pizzas from Casa’s terrific kitchen. Meaning: You could get a Mai Tai, pair it with fried calamari or a margherita pizza, and enjoy it underneath the tentacles of a giant “octopus.”
It can be a little toasty sometimes — remember, it’s a patio bar — but the “always-happy-hour” prices make it worth the trip.
Tiki di Amore is located at 2850 E Tropicana Ave.
Jammyland: If for no other reason, you should visit this minimalist Arts District bar for the bread. Their Jamaican flatbread — identified on the menu as “Buss Up Shut” — is a real treat, and when you pair it with Chef Bubba Grayer’s chicken or shrimp curry, the experience borders on the divine.
But there are other reasons to come here, many of them: the well-curated playlist of classic and modern reggae and ska; the giant murals that more or less tell the entire story of Jamaican music; and, naturally, the drinks — some made with rare spirits, all of them expertly prepared.
Their Mai Tai — Appleton Estate 12-Year rum, Rhum Clemént VSOP and lime, with housemade curaçao and orgeat — is as transportive as a first-class plane ticket to Kingston.
Jammyland is located at 1121 S Main St.