In New York cocktail culture, what's old is new again, and for once we're not talking about a Prohibition-era obsession with brown spirits. Another kitschy historical cocktail movement--tiki--is taking the city by storm.
Spots like the Rusty Knot and the forthcoming Painkiller are bringing rummy, umbrella-clad libations back into drinkers' good graces, and bartenders will soon trade in their suspenders for Hawaiian shirts.
Beat the crowds now by heading to these old-school tiki spots, where you can sip on mai tais as if they were still uncool.
Bikini Bar Sip n' Surf Part bespoke surfboard and swimwear shop, part Polynesian-kitsch bar, this Tribeca storefront (pictured) might be NYC's best-kept tiki secret. The place is filled with vintage artifacts that the owners--former Pacific Coasters--collect on their trips out West. Though you can taste one of their inventive cocktails only if you're lucky enough to be invited to a private event, they've provided a recipe that you can savor at home (click here to download the recipe). 148 Duane St. (between W. Broadway and Church St.); 212-571-6737 or bikinibar.com
Otto's Shrunken Head Dark and loud, this East Village haunt is known more for live music than quality cocktails. However, island-style drinks--like the classic Singapore Sling and the bar's signature Otto's Octane--are served in over-the-top tiki mugs. After having a couple, you won't care that the place is a dive. 538 E. 14th St. (between aves. A and B); 212-228-2240 or ottosshrunkenhead.com
King Yum Skip the nondescript Chinese food in the restaurant portion of this Queens hideaway and head straight for the bar. Here, bartender John Eng has been mixing up powerful zombies and the restaurant's signature cognac-accented King Yum Special for 25 years. 181-08 Union Turnpike (at Kent St.), Queens; 718-380-1918
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