How to Open a Tiki Bar

by Business Editor; Updated September 26, 2017

How to Open a Tiki Bar. South Pacific-themed tiki bars serve variations on exotic mixed drinks like Mai Tais and other rum-based libations and offer a Polynesian ambiance for city and suburban residents who want to escape their daily routine, if only for a drink or two. Trader Vic's and Don the Beachcomber started the tiki craze in the 1950s. After a decline in popularity, tiki bars now flourish in most US markets.

Items you will need

  • Rum
  • Bamboo furniture
  • Tiki torches
  • Surf Shack, parrot or flamingo signs
  • Tiki mugs
Step 1

Find the right location for your tiki bar. Focus on trendy, hipster areas that cater to a slightly older and more sophisticated crowd in their 30s. Try looking for space in or near hotels and upscale neighborhoods. Tiki bars attract a more refined and adventurous crowd than beer-heavy, "dress down" bars.

Step 2

Learn how to blend drinks like Zombies, Mai Tais and Blue Hawaiians. Most of these drinks have a rum base and contain exotic liqueurs like Okolehao, an Hawaiian liquor produced only on the islands and other ingredients like grenadine, vodka and banana liqueur. Combine these liquors with mixers like lime, rock candy syrup and pineapple or cranberry juice to create drinks with colorful names like Scorpion Bowl and Blue Lagoon. Decorate the drinks with tiny paper parasols, plastic fish, mint or other garnishes.

Step 3

Serve tropical drinks in ceramic tiki mugs and other drinkware. Tiki mugs imitate the exaggerated or comical faces on Polynesian totems, and might be designed by an artist and released in limited editions. Offer larger drinks in glazed or two-toned mugs. Use shot glasses and other stemware that feature colorful designs of parrots, beach scenes or Polynesian dancers.

Step 4

Furnish your tiki bar with Polynesian and Hawaiian-themed barstools, clocks and other items. Browse tiki sites for a wide selection of bamboo curtains, bar supplies like parrot head stirrers and palm tree picks and Polynesian themed floor mats and patio umbrellas. Buy hand-carved tables, bar stools and tiki lounge chairs.

Step 5

Filter exotica music into your bar. Music with a tiki or tropical theme by light jazz artists like Les Baxter and Martin Denny will lend another layer to your bar's Polynesian theme. The sensuous Afro-Cuban and Polynesian rhythms will complete your tiki bar's lush, Pacific island ambiance.