If you love tropical flair and host parties frequently, a tiki bar can be a fun, playful addition to your home or backyard. Many retailers sell pre-made tiki bars or kits, but these can be quite overpriced and less easily customisable to suit your tastes or needs. The cheaper, more flexible alternative is to make, decorate and stock your own tiki bar at home.
You can make your tiki bar by modifying an existing bar or by building one from scratch. Many tiki bars have thatched roofs and are made from materials that look natural and tropical like bamboo.
Start by sketching a plan based on how much space you have and what you want it to look like. Focus on designing the frame---how high, long and wide the bar surface should be, how tall the roof will be, etc.
Build the frame using 2 by 4s, nails and L-brackets for support. Use cheap plywood for the sides and roof---it doesn't matter if it's unattractive, because you can cover most of the bar's exterior in the decorating phase.
You can position this frame over an existing bar, or attach a sturdy sheet of wood to use as a bar surface. Building shelves or inserting an appropriately sized bookshelf under the bar can be a convenient way to store liquor and supplies.
There are no limits or rules for decorating your tiki bar. First, you'll want to cover up the exposed surfaces of the raw materials. Glue or staple panels of tropical fabric, bamboo or reed fencing, rattan or any other material that fits your theme to the front and sides of the bar. You can also wrap most of these materials around the bar's wooden support beams, or cover the legs or seats of your barstools with them. Cover the roof or fringe the edges of the bar with thatching from a craft store or online retailer.
Strings of faux flower leis, multicoloured Christmas lights or paper lanterns can add colour and light. Put your old Hawaiian souvenirs to good use---whether it's a wooden tiki or mask, surfboard, postcard collection or just a bobbing dashboard hula girl. Check craft stores and online for fake tropical flowers or palm fronds to attach to the exterior, and if your tiki bar is outdoors, look for tiki torches in department stores. These are just a few ideas---creativity is the key to creating a great aesthetic for your tiki bar, not budget.
Stocking the Bar
You can stock your tiki bar with any drink ingredients you want, but a few liquors and mixers are mainstays.
Traditional tiki bars are famous for their rum concoctions, so be sure to have some light, dark and spiced rums on hand, as well as an exotic pineapple- or coconut-flavoured bottle or two. A good stock of rum will get you one step closer to serving up tropical classics like Mai Tais, Piña Coladas, Zombies and Blue Hawaiians on demand. Triple sec and vodka are also crucial ingredients for many tiki drinks.
Pineapple, orange, lime, cranberry and grapefruit juices are common tropical mixers, as are coconut cream and standard additives like simple syrup and grenadine. Keep some maraschino cherries and wedges of lemon, lime and pineapple around for garnishes.
To follow tiki bar tradition, buy a set or two of ceramic or glass tiki mugs, and accessorise drinks with colourful straws, paper umbrellas, decorative stirrers or live flowers.