Modern Tiki Party Cocktail Recipes

It’s Tiki time! Tiki drinks have a pretty bad reputation, probably because there’s no other category of modern drinks that has been more abused and more misunderstood. Chances are, if you’ve encountered a Tiki drinks, it’s been a brightly colored, syrupy mess. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Tiki drinks can be silly and fruity and kitschy and escapist, but still good. All that takes are a few things: fresh ingredients, balanced complex spices, and fun. â€“ Andrew


Tiki had its start in the 1930s. A couple of entrepreneurs – Ernest “Don the Beachcomber” Gantt and Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron – started restaurants meant to evoke the exotic South Pacific. They combined a fantasy version of Pacific Islands culture with cocktails, mostly Caribbean-inspired, that became the foundation of Tiki culture. They offered escapism to a country emerging from decades of sacrifice, after the Great Depression and the Second World War. These are drinks with ridiculous names: the Zombie and the Scorpion and the Navy Grog. They are often, but not exclusively, full of rum. They should be sweet and fruity without being cloying. They should have layers of complex spicy flavors. They should be full of freshness – fresh fruits and fresh juices and homemade syrups, not artificially colored, factory made ingredients. They’re supposed to be fun and completely self-aware.



Oh My Tai

2 oz Bacardi 8 Year Aged Rum
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz St-Germain
1/2 oz Orgeat Syrup
1/2 oz Falernum
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters

Combine everything with lots of ice and shake well. Strain into a tumbler filled with fresh ice.

Mai Tai Cocktail Recipe Card Illustration by Dinara Mirtalipova for Oh So Beautiful Paper

All illustrations by Dinara Mirtalipova for Oh So Beautiful Paper

The Mai Tai is the queen of Tiki drinks, a intensely flavorful rum sour with tons of spicy flavor. Both Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic claimed to have invented the Mai Tai and there are about a million different versions of the recipe out there – and you know what? It doesn’t really matter. As long as you throw together some rum, some lime, and some orgeat – that ancient Middle Eastern almond almond syrup that should have no business in a Polynesian-themed drink but is amazing there anyway – you can mess around with other ingredients and still end up with an awesome drink. We added St-Germain to ours for some fruity, floral notes and falernum, a syrup made from rum, lime, and spices like cloves, vanilla, allspice, maybe ginger and almonds. It’s sweet and tart and full of flavor and delicious.

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The Hurricane

2 oz Bacardi Select Black Rum
3/4 oz Cognac
3/4 oz St-Germain
1/2 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine
Angostura Bitters

Combine the spirits and juices with ice and shake well. Strain into a tall glass filled with crushed ice. Mound more ice on top, then add the grenadine and 5-6 dashes of bitters.

The Hurricane Cocktail Recipe Card Illustration by Dinara Mirtalipova for Oh So Beautiful Paper

This is our spin on the classic Hurricane, a Tiki drink invented in New Orleans in the 1940s that takes its name from the hurricane lamp-shaped glass they were first served in. We use a big bold dark rum as a foundation for all those other flavors but mellow it out a bit with the Cognac. St-Germain’s fruitiness, reminiscent of lychee fruit, takes the place of the original’s passion fruit syrup. I love saving the grenadine and bitters for last, because drizzling them on top will produce fun streaks of bright red that eventually turn the drink a pale red – like watching a tropical sunset. The Hurricane is a big bold Tiki drink full of tons of flavor and a hint of bite. Wonderful.

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Shipwreck Punch

1 oz Bacardi Gold Rum
1 oz Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum
1/2 oz Hibiscus-Infused Gin
1/2 oz St-Germain
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Coconut Milk

Combine everything with lots of ice and shake well. Strain into a tall glass filled with fresh crushed ice and garnish with tropical fruit.

Rum Punch Cocktail Recipe Card Illustration by Dinara Mirtalipova for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Ok, there’s clearly a lot going on in this drink – two kinds of rum and some hibiscus gin just to start, demonstrating Tiki’s layers of flavor but also showing that Tiki doesn’t just have to mean rum. Two kinds of citrus juice balanced by St-Germain’s fruity, flowery sweetness, and the rich, creamy coconut, and that passion fruit syrup – sweet and tart, with hints of mango and lots of tropical flavor. (To make our passion fruit syrup, we dissolved equal parts sugar and passion fruit juice over low heat.) This drink started out as something of a spin on the Piña Colada, mixing rum with coconut and pineapple, but quickly spiraled into something very different. It’s sweet and creamy without being cloying, thanks to a deep spiciness. Plus, it’s pink! Which is a bit ridiculous but still fun and friendly.

And that’s what Tiki should be. There’s no formula, no rule set for Tiki recipes. But if you can put together some fresh ingredients with lots of flavor, in rich layers, that’s still fun and friendly, that evokes some tropical beach and helps you escape for a few moments – then you’ve nailed it.

All illustrations by Dinara Mirtalipova for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Calligraphy Cocktail Menu Cards: Meant to Be Calligraphy

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Bacardi and St-Germain. All content, photos, recipes, and words are our own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that help make Oh So Beautiful Paper possible!

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