Surf’s up—at least, it is at these NYC tiki bars, decorated in a bright jumble of bamboo wood, beach balls and plenty of booze. Can’t make it to one of the best New York beaches? The second best way to battle the heat and humidity of summer in New York is with piña coladas and other frozen drinks in digs that are as cool as the quaffs they serve. Come thirsty—here are the best tiki bars in New York City.
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Best tiki bars and beach bars in NYC
Ravi DeRossi (Mayahuel) first dreamed up this pastel-colored, rum-fueled bar back in 2010. The signature rum-punch list—which includes fan favorites like the Funky Old Man from Martinique (La Favorite Ambre Agricole, mint, lime, cane syrup, sparkling wine) was carefully curated by famed New York bartender Jane Danger.
A flaming Torch Shot—rum topped with a lemon slice and sprinkled with sugar, then set ablaze—is strong enough to dispatch the living dead at this Smith Street standby. Bamboo walls with tiki masks and bright-blue drinks with wee umbrellas make a fitting setting for BoCoCa beachcombers sipping bowls of the rum-heavy Frozen Zombie, which comes with a surprise (a shot) in the straw.
A giddy enthusiasm electrifies the rooftop bar that crowns the Freehand New York (yes, the hotel you keep hearing about). Located in the no-fun nexus of Gramercy and Murray Hill, the Miami import is packed with happy-go-lucky twenty- and thirtysomethings that just seem relieved that the Caribbean rooftop even exists, let alone that they are there. And unlike rooftops around the city with sleek designs and glass parapets, Broken Shaker is meticulously crafted to look and feel like a well-worn and snug oasis.
Catching a breeze through white-linen curtains while downing an umbrella-decked cocktail is as close to an island escape as you’ll get in Alphabet City. Here, beach-ready tiki quaffs draw inspiration from their midcentury counterparts. Like the menu, the cozy teal-and-white den is rife with time-warp nods to the Pacific isles, including retro floral-patterned banquettes, hand-carved totem pole stools and mother-of-pearl light fixtures.
The hippest neighborhood in Queens has a literal Highwater mark. Bright and breezy, the Highwater is a tropical oasis for both the down-to-earth and the down-to-fuck. The 50-seater is lit up by the sunny disposition of its 6’7” Majorcan bartender. At the Highwater you feel like you’re exhaling the whole time. It’s liquid yoga.
You'll think you’re on vacation thanks to this Trinidadian cocktail bar’s breezy island vibes. Connected to the Caribbean restaurant Pearl’s, the snug space has bright-yellow couches, a collage of calypso posters and a huge photograph of a naked man flanked by two women from a nudist colony. Clyde’s feels like the type of off-the-beaten-path, locals-only bar you find when you sneak out of your all-inclusive resort during a lazy tropical getaway.
Channel your inner tiki hipster (it’s in there, somewhere) at Super Power, a Crown Heights bar fitted with mod furnishings, neon lights and plenty of rum. The drinks are as IG-ready as they are tasty, some served in gilded pineapple cups, and others adorned with flowers and leaves.
The Polynesian is a handsome tiki bar in Hell’s Kitchen, and Major Food Group's first stand-alone bar. The space is awash in deep-turquoise walls and old-world landscape murals under high ceilings with wooden beams. Heads turn as the waiters carry a very large-format pearl-in-the-oyster cocktail smoking with dry ice, and a ceramic treasure chest filled with splashes of pineapple rum, apple brandy, grenadine and curaçao.
Venue says The Polynesian is unprecedented in ambition and scope, honoring Tiki’s past and reinvigorating it for generations to come.
Pretend like you're vacationing at a faraway beach resort at this Tulum transplant right in Soho. Filled with lush plants and sandy floors, the space is a respite from the urban streets with contemporary Mexican cusines and cocktails. Make sure to also check out the coffee shop and retail store before the whole shebang moves to an indoor location for the winter.
Surfing memorabilia, sand-covered floors and the way-laid-back staff can bring a little endless summer to the gloomiest day. A full menu includes a variety of seafood classics from clam chowder to shrimp tacos to grilled mahi mahi burgers. If you drop in to get the local surf forecast (we are an island people, after all), chill out with a “tiki” cocktail like the Coconut Kiss (rum, creme de cacao and coconut cream), served in appropriately kitschy glassware (bikini mug anyone?).
The decor is as subtle as the name, but if you’re a tiki enthusiast, you and your grass skirt will fit right in. The light fixtures are glowing candy-colored blowfish, the walls sport gaudy ’50s tropical prints, and the drink menu is heavy on beach-bar standards like piña coladas and margaritas. Once surf rock gets going in the back lounge, the place becomes more Cali than Bali.
Picture Don Draper on vacation: rum cocktail in hand, wind blowing through that meticulous coif. While you may never have Jon Hamm’s cut-from-glass jawline (sorry), you can make like a Sterling Cooper adman at leisure in this retro-kitted tiki lounge, from Tijuana Picnic partners Jon Neidich and Jim Kearns. The bi-level bar is crammed with mid-20th-century curios—a ’60s pop soundtrack; mod, half-moon booths; waitresses in Chuck Taylors—but it’s the customizable cocktails and breezy vibe that win over the crowd.
A tiki bar downwind from the Fresh Kills Landfill may not be the ideal spot to appreciate a sea breeze, but this irony-free place could help you forget local geography. Take a seat in a bamboo booth illuminated by a taxidermic blowfish lamp and enjoy rum drinks served in coconuts or hula-girl glasses.
Looking for a bit of island spirit in the city? Head to Dromedary Bar for the urban tiki experience. The Bushwick bar serves up riffs on classic tropical drinks. If cocktails aren’t your thing, there’s also a selection of beers on tap to go along with the classic pub fare. The exposed brick barroom also hosts a variety of events, from trivia nights to weekly karaoke to comedy shows.
Although Sunken Harbor Club creator Zac Overman left New York for the greener pastures of Seattle, his love for all things tiki lives on during the last Thursday of every month at Brooklyn where orgeat enthusiasts convene to pay homage to the rum gods of Polynesia. Check Sunken Harbor Club’s Facebook page for details on this month’s observance.
From after-work drinks to killing time around Times Square, this subterranean surf shack is a solid card to play when faced with all manner of midtown conundrums. Though there’s kitsch aplenty, including colorful bathing suits strung up on the walls, the under-the-radar drinkery has its bona fides in order: Classic surf bands warble over the speakers, six wave-bashing flicks (including Endless Summer) play on loop, and friendly barkeeps serve the type of dangerously drinkable quaffs you’d expect at an oceanside watering hole.
This Hudson River–hugging nautical “dive bar” from is a confusing—but successful—high-low hybrid. Faux Tiffany lamps and neon beer signs clash with the elaborate tiki cocktails (devised by Milk and Honey vet Toby Maloney), and with the foppish hordes who queue up outside the place. You’d never find the eponymous Rusty Knot—a refreshing, blender-whirred mix of rum, ice and mint—or eats like a luxe bacon–chicken liver sandwich at a grimy pub.