Tis the season to be tropical, and there’s no better way to get your tiki on than at these five, iconic New York City bars. Floral-wear is strictly optional, but a sense of adventure and love of a good drink is not.
Brooklyn Surf Bar
139 N. 6th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11222
If you thought the waves in Brooklyn were nothing to write home about, you’ve never been to this Pacific-inspired bar. Run by surfers and inhabited by locals, Surf Bar pretty much invented the Billyburg tiki scene. Surfer-culture infuses everything from the staff’s annual Rockaway Beach forays to the fish tacos, frozen mudslides, and margaritas served in coconuts. If you want to feel sand under your toes and smell salt air while imbibing a delicious cocktail, this is your place.
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128 Elizabeth St.
New York, NY 10002
The young and adorable UES ex-pats at this kitschy, downtown bar tend to get a bit rambunctious on Friday nights, but the tropical vibe can’t be beat and the first rate cocktails are priced at last decade’s prices. Go for the subtle Lychee Martini or delectable Pineapple Mango Mojito and you can’t go wrong. Half pool hall and half aloha lounge, there’s nothing throw back about the music, which is point on, but not so loud that you can’t chat up the cute guy in the corner.
273 Smith St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231
This tiki-themed, local hangout has an easy-going, casual atmosphere and indoor-outdoor seating in warm weather. Abundant, $10 fishbowl drinks include the unparalleled, signature Frozen Zombie and deceptively mellow, rumified Scorpion Bowl. Go with friends or be prepared to make some new ones, so you can play on Zombie Hut’s extensive selection of board games and drink flaming shots at the bar all night long.
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304 E. 6th St.
New York, NY 10003
This serious mezcal and tequila bar restaurant is devoted to the spirit, as well as spirits, of Mexico. Mayahuel is not only an atmospheric and sophisticated trip south of the border, it was also rated one of the best cocktail bars in the world by Tales of the Cocktail, and for good reason. A menu of over 50 tropical cocktails have been carefully curated and designed to appeal to both the nuanced taste buds of the most seasoned mezcal aficionados and newbie imbibers of distilled tropical spirits. The cocktails are superb and the food is not to be missed. From the simple Palomitas served with lime to the Cochinita, a delectable combination of braised pork belly, and papaya mango mustard salsa, dinner and drinks at Mayahuel is a trip to Mexico’s most sophisticated side.
57 S. 5th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Williamsburg’s answer to the traditional Brazilian botequim, Miss Favella is a neighborhood bistro serving unending pitchers of Caipirinha — Brazil’s national cocktail — and traditional down-home fare, like Brazilian beef jerky with fried yucca and Moqueca de Peix. The smiles are big and the music, live. If you have a sweet tooth you can drink your dessert – the Batida de Passion Fruit is tropical perfection.
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.