Vv Magazine’s Libby Roach visited The Tiki Bar for an exclusive first look.
The Tiki Bar, located just above Bovine Sex Club—the oft photographed (and slightly creepy hotspot on Queen West)—has reopened under a new name, and with a tidy facelift and a brand new drink and menu program. Attempting to distance themselves somewhat from such a diverse neighbour, The Tiki Bar is pouring on the aloha with a heavy Hawaiian theme, evident in everything from the splashy mural by DudeManArt welcoming you up the stairs, to the countless kitschy details that echo the overall island atmosphere. The two bars may share a physical address, but don’t expect any twisted steel and rusted bicycle parts in The Tiki Bar.
Kevin Bogan oversees the bar and has created some pretty debilitating concoctions to take the bite out of the summer heat. The Painkiller ($13) mixes Pusser’s Navy Rum, fresh OJ, and pineapple juice with coconut cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg, which acts as a sophisticated garnish to the tasty cocktail.
The Singapore Sling ($13), a classic cocktail here upgraded with Tanqueray Gin, Cherry Heering, Cointreau, Benedictine, Fresh Lime Juice, Pineapple Juice and Grenadine, is a refreshing drink with some definite kick to it.
Ballers looking to make a splash should take note: a few shared drinks are on the menu as well, and while nothing is served in a coconut (too small) the pineapple does make a clever vessel, here to contain the mighty Jungle Bird ($28), with Havana Club Reserva Rum, Campari, Lime Juice, and Simple Syrup. If that sounds a little too Higgins for you, then channel your inner Magnum PI and go for the Zombie Punch ($24) with Bacardi 8 años, Lemon Heart, Bacardi Gold, Pernod, Lime Juice, Falernum, Don’s Mix, Angostura Bitters and Grenadine, served on skull-shaped ice cubes. A few local beers are on tap, as well as plenty more imports and premiums in bottles. They also stock a few select wines and champagnes if the mood strikes.
Co-chefs Harrison Dale (ex-Gusto) and Daniel Krantzberg (Rock Lobster) teamed up and run Hard Six Food Industries, who oversee kitchen duties. Getting their start as a pop-up kitchen on Ossington earlier this year, the boys are dreaming big on their latest kitchen venture, with Harrison going so far as to bake the buns in house for their Pakalolo Sandwich ($6) with Smoked Pork Shoulder, Grilled Pineapple, Fresh Mozzarella Cheese and Mango Meio (mayo).
The vegetarian option comes by way of King Kamehameha Sandwich ($6) with Smoked Avocado, Marinated Jalapeño Peppers, Roasted Red Peppers, and Pineapple Meio, served on a fluffy Taro Sweet Bun. Harrison and Daniel make all the sauces and dips in house, including the Spicy Pineapple Dip that pairs so well with the Shaka Shrimp ($6), here coated in Macadamia Nuts and Panko. Cassava Fries ($6, pictured with sandwiches) have a sprinkle of cilantro and are paired up with sweet in housemade ketchup.
While deep fried finger snacks dominate the tidy menu, one to not overlook is The Big Kahuna Salad ($5) with tender Escarole, Quinoa, Salted Cashews and Pickled Rhubarb (that they foraged themselves) tossed in a light Pineapple Vinaigrette.
Pokè Ceviche & Chips ($7) also offers respite from the fat fryer, with Shrimp, Lime, Hot Peppers, and Avocado in a Coconut Milk bath with Macadamia Nuts on top and served with Taro Chips.
Stay tuned for more nibbles and the addition of Frozen Delights—boozy popsicles meant for sticky hot summer days ($6)—or a few new rotating menu specials like the Island Fries, which is a Hawaiian version of Poutine.
While the soggy start to the summer may hold some fair-weather peeps back, take note: the bar area is covered (by a thatch roof, naturally) so don’t let the grey skies set you back. Bar hours are from 4pm- 2am daily. Kitchen closes at 10pm nightly.
Images by Libby Roach
Which dish from The Tiki Bar has your mouth watering? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below, or tweet us @ViewtheVibe.