=We’ve done our best to make this an all-encompassing list, but please comment below if we missed any of your favorite spots!
Ventura/ Santa Barbara:
Ventiki Tiki Loung and Lanai (Ventura): Currently offering to-go cocktails and food, and they have a relief fund for donations.
Test Pilot (Santa Barbara): Currently offering to-go cocktails.
Los Angeles/ Orange:
LONO Hollywood: Currently offering to-go cocktails and food.
The Mermaid (Downtown LA): Currently offering to-go cocktails and food, virtual happy hours, and they have a relief fund for donations.
Damon’s (Glendale): Currently offering to-go cocktail and food.
Pacific Seas @ Clifton’s Republic (Downtown LA): Temporarily closed, but they have a relief fund for donations.
Caña Rum Bar (Downtown LA): Temporarily closed, but they have a relief fund for donations.
Tonga Hut (North Hollywood): Temporarily closed, but they have a relief fund for donations.
Long Beach/ Huntington/ Newport :
The Bamboo Club (Long Beach): Currently offering to-go cocktail and food.
Tantalum (Long Beach): Currently offering to-go cocktail and food, and they have a relief fund for donations.
320 Main (Seal Beach): Currently offering to-go cocktail and food.
Billy’s at the Beach (Newport Beach): Currently offering to-go cocktail and food.
Strong Water (Anaheim): Currently offering to-go cocktail and food.
STOWAWAY (Tustin): Currently offering to-go cocktail and food.
False Idol (San Diego): Currently offering to-go cocktails and food, and they have a relief auctions with pretty amazing merch for purchase (which benefit the False Idol team).
The Grass Skirt (Pacific Beach/ San Diego): Currently offering to-go cocktails and food, and they have a relief fund for donations and an auction site with some great experiences for purchase (benefiting the Grass Skirt Staff).
Miss B’s Coconut Club (Pacific Beach/ San Diego): Currently offering to-go cocktails and food, and they have a relief fund for donations.
We hope you find this list helpful! Let’s do our best to support these local favorite during these uncertain times, and pick up some food and drinks to-go. Or if you can swing it, please try to donate to their relief funds as well. Many of them are really struggling and could use your help right now.
Give us a shout if we missed any of your favorite spots and think they belong on this list.
-The Wayward Spirits Team
During Britain’s colonization of the Caribbean during the mid-seventeenth century, conditions were abysmal aboard naval ships and much of the crew were forced into service. In order to combat dismay and improve morale, the British Royal Navy introduced rum rations (know as a “tot”) to sailors in the amount of half of a pint of rum per day (a navy tradition that continued until July 31, 1970)
Since rum production was thriving in the Caribbean at the time, the spirit was easy to acquire in large quantities (despite being far from home). However, the rum produced in this region was very high proof, leaving many of the sailors drunk and unable to perform their duties.
In 1740, Admiral Edward Vernon “Old Grogham” intervened, ordering the rum rations to be watered down and split in half to avoid further disruptions. He also suggested that sailors use sugar and lime to dilute their rum, and to make it more palatable (as the high proof, unfiltered rum was quite hard to stomach).
Admiral Vernon inadvertently discovered the recipe for the modern grog (and a surprisingly good defense for scurvy). Born out of wartime necessity, the grog still lives on in tiki tradition today.
Glassware: Double Old Fashioned/ Rocks Glass
Demerara syrup recipe (if needed):
Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain into glass over cubed or crushed ice.
Add a lime wheel for garnish
Wayward Spirits Rating and Twist:
Overall Score – 4 – The grog is a low-fuss, easy tiki drink to make. Though it lacks many of the complex flavors found in other recipes, it is a blank slate to experiment and introduce new flavors, and allows the drinker to taste the subtle differences between rums they choose to use. Additionally, it is a fantastic drink to make in bulk if you are throwing a tiki party.
Try using a mixture of demerara syrup and honey syrup (¼ oz of demerara, ¼ oz honey syrup) instead for a slightly different flavor. Additionally, this is a great cocktail to experiment with different rums to find which brands, regions, or tasting notes you enjoy most – try making it with a black blended rum (such as Lemon Hart 80), a high-proof pot still lightly aged rum (such as Smith and Cross), or a black pot still rum (Hamilton Jamaica Black).
Twenty Seventy Swizzle -
The Twenty Seventy Swizzle is the creation of Martin Cate, an incredibly knowledgeable rum expert and owner of the Smuggler’s Cove tiki bar in San Francisco. In our search for perfected tiki cocktails, many of our favorite recipes trace back to Martin Cate, so don’t be surprised if a few of his other creations make their way onto this blog. If you are interested his book Smuggler’s Cove (covering the history of tiki, recipes, how-to guides, and ample facts about rum), you can find it on Amazon here.
Below you will find the steps for making this drink at home and all necessary ingredients. Cheers!
According to Martin Cate’s Smuggler's Cove, the Twenty Seventy Swizzle was created one night when Cate and his pal Ron Roumas attempted to make the ultimate swizzle based on several classic recipes.
After creating multiple versions, they settled on a final recipe which incorporated the best elements from all swizzle recipes. The drink was subsequently (and cleverly) named for the two rums used: Angostura 1919 and Lemon Hart 151
Glassware: Tiki Mug (tall) or Collins/Zombie Glass
Demerara syrup recipe (if needed):
Honey syrup recipe (if needed):
Combine all ingredients in a Collins/zombie glass (or tall tiki mug). Add crushed ice until the glass is three-quarters full. Use a bar spoon to swizzle. Top off with additional crushed ice until the glass is full.
Add freshly grated nutmeg and a tall sprig of mint.
Wayward Spirits Rating:
Overall Score - 5 – As a big fan the Queen’s Park Swizzle, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this drink comparatively. The addition of overproof rum and honey syrup creates a savory flavor, while Herbsaint and allspice gives it a rich, herbal finish that the drink unknowingly needed.
The Seventy Twenty Swizzle has officially pushed the Queen’s Park to the back of our bar book and will be an enjoyable addition to our summer cocktail list for years to come.
Happy drinking! Share your thoughts about this drink in the comments, or let us know if you have your own recipe for a killer swizzle - Cheers!
About Our Visit
For our 2020 Valentine’s Day, Autumn and I decided to skip the crowds and fixed dinner menus at restaurants throughout the city and celebrate with a tiki cocktail (or six) instead. It was not our first time visiting Pacific Seas at Clifton’s Republic in downtown Los Angeles (going by the name "The Neverlands" now), but the venue was exceptionally uncrowded on this holiday, giving us a chance to enjoy each other’s company and get a good look at the venue and design.
One of my favorite tiki bars in all of LA, Pacific Seas’ theme falls somewhere between retro tiki bar, nautical lounge, and trendy nightclub. The décor is intricate, eclectic, and well-planned, capturing the perfect escapist atmosphere essential to all good tiki bars. On weekends, a DJ is usually spinning a mixture of exotica and classic 70’s and 80’s music from inside a 1935 Chris Craft Runabout Mahogany boat in the center of the dance floor. Weekdays, however, are a bit more subtle – with a well-chosen playlist of exotica and tropical sounds lightly playing in the background.
As for as the cocktails, Pacific Seas has some of the best tiki drinks in town with a mixed menu of traditional tropical cocktails and modern twists on classic favorites. The bartenders here really know their stuff, using the highest quality and freshest ingredients and putting a great deal of effort into the presentation of their tropical cocktails.
Although our visit was an unprecedentedly quiet (as we visited during peak dinner hours), Pacific Seas is typically a DTLA hot spot. If you do not get here early enough, you might find yourself waiting for admission – but luckily you can leave your name with the host and they will text/call you when it's your turn, allowing you to explore the four other well-themed bars within Clifton’s Republic (the Monarch Bar, Gothic Bar, Brookdale Ballroom, and Tree Tops Bar).
Wayward Spirits Rating
OVERALL BAR RATING: 4.5 Points (out of five)
Overall, one of our very favorite tiki bars in Los Angeles, and a place we will continue to frequent for years to come.
Drinks: 5 Points
If you are looking for an amazing tiki cocktail in Los Angeles, look no further than Pacific Seas. With their large menu of traditional tiki cocktails and modern concoctions, you will be sure to find at least a few drinks you love.
While Clifton’s Republic does serve food, we have never personally eaten here, making it unfair to comment on the food.
Ambiance/Theme/Décor: 5 Points
This bar is spacious and elaborately decorated with a mixture of tiki-themed memorabilia, nautical elements, water features, and tropical flora. I would go so far as to say that this is one of my favorite tiki bars of all time in terms of ambiance and design.
Price: 3 Points
Like most trendy DTLA bars, Pacific Seas comes with a relatively steep price tag. Totally worth it, but be ready to spend $15-20 per cocktail.
Comfort (Seating/Booths): 4 Points
This bar is fairly roomy, so there is an abundance of seating (tables, bar stools, private booths for parties) throughout the space. These seats fill up quickly on busy nights, so get there early if you want a seat or table.
Crowd: 4 Points
One thing that has always struck me as unique (and wonderful) about Pacific Seas is how eclectic its patrons are, making it feel accessible. On any given night, you are likely to see a mixture of young and old, locals and tourists, trendsetters and old-fashions, plus tiki fans and novices alike.
Wayward Spirits Recommendations
As mentioned above, Pacific Seas is very popular and can get quite crowded on the weekends. If you are like us and want to experience a bar both in it’s quiet and loud moments, be sure to get there right when the bar opens so that you can fully appreciate the nuance of the space and décor, and people-watch as the bar begins to fill with patrons.
In terms of cocktails to order, the following drinks are some of our personal favorites: Mai Tai, Tradewinds, Jungle Bird, and Hurricane
Pacific Seas – Background and History
The following comes directly from Clifton’s Republic website, and explains the history and purpose of Pacific Seas:
When he first opened Clifton’s in 1931, Clifford Clinton sought to nourish the public’s spirit, deeply demoralized by the effects of the Great Depression. He felt that the intrigue of travel to exotic lands might give guests a respite from their economic realities. Visitors responded so passionately to his introduction of palm trees at the Clifton’s location on Olive (the Cafeteria of the Tropics) he decided to do something revolutionary: he transformed the entire environment into the Pacific Seas, a mythical tropical oasis in the midst of downtown’s urban jungle, complete with neon palm trees, waterfalls and authentic Polynesian artifacts. Shortly after, Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic created their legendary bars — later to become known as the birth of tiki.
The current Pacific Seas embodies the energy and exuberance of the original — a way to experience the Golden Age of Travel without leaving downtown Los Angeles. It also pays homage to Polynesian and tiki classics no longer with us, from Bahooka and its maze of fish tanks and canoes to Tiki Bob’s and its carved icons and a plethora of long-lost South Seas fantasy environments that live on only in dreams.
We hope you enjoyed our review of Pacific Seas at Clifton’s Republic - please let us know your thoughts and feedback below! Also visit the Pacific Seas website for additional information on reservations, events, dress code, parking, and ADA accessibility.
Wayward Spirits Crew
Photos courtesy of Clifton’s Republic
Created during World War II, the Three Dots and a Dash cocktail is named after from the Morse code signal for “victory”. The drink was originally created by Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt (aka Donn Beach, the founding father of the tiki movement in the United States), and was served at the famous Don the Beachcomber tiki bar in Hollywood during the 1930’s and 1940’s
Glassware: Tiki Mug (tall), Collins/Zombie Glass, or Footed Pilsner
Honey syrup recipe (if needed):
Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain into glass over crushed ice. Alternatively, you can also flash blend this cocktail with ice for a “slushier” feel
Add a three maraschino cherries (for the “three dots”) and a pineapple chunk (for the “dash”) on a cocktail pick. Add a lime wheel for extra flair
Wayward Spirits Rating and Twist:
Overall Score - 4.5 - this is a really great go-to drink, and relatively simple to make. While it certainly fits the bill for a "tiki staple", the flavor profile is slightly predictable (preventing the full 5 star rating)
Try replacing the half ounce of orange juice with dry curaçao (we use Pierre Ferrand), making the drink feel slightly more upscale (and boozy). Also, try using brandied cherries in place of maraschino
Hope you enjoy! Share your thoughts about this drink in the comments, or let us know if you have your own twist for this cocktail - Cheers!
In May of 2019, Autumn and I had the pleasure of visiting the small Central American country of Belize. What we found was an adventurous tropical paradise – home to beautiful beaches, reefs for snorkeling/ scuba diving, dense jungles, Mayan ruins, caves for exploring, and so much more. If you are planning your next exotic getaway, I highly recommend Belize as a port less traveled.
The following suggestions are based solely on my personal experience and trip, so there may be some additional locations and attractions that are worth seeing. Be sure to do you own research as well – that’s half the fun of traveling!
Belize - Brief History and Influence on Tiki:
The history of Belize is equal parts mysterious, unique, eclectic, and downright chaotic.
Belize was early home to the Mayans, who built a powerful and sophisticated civilization throughout Central America and in neighboring countries of modern-day southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The Mayan civilization peaked in the 6th - 8th century, but mysteriously vanished around the 14th century (not long before the Spanish arrived in the 16th century).
For a brief period, Belize was inhabited by the Spanish as they explored the new world and established ports throughout the Caribbean and central Americas, however, English and Scottish privateers posed a challenge to this rule in the 17th century, settling in Belize for its rich resources and fruitful jungles.
In 1789, Britain officially gained full control of Belize from Spain after defeating the Spanish Armada off St. George's Caye. While the United States was embroiled in Civil War, Great Britain declared Belize to be the colony of British Honduras. This colonization lasted for nearly 200 years, with self-governance being granted by the British government in 1964, and Belize gaining full independence in 1981.
With its long history of colonization, Belize was heavily influenced by foreign cultures in the way of language, social structures, politics, trade, and agriculture. Today, the country draws from the lifestyle and palate of many of its Caribbean neighbors – including language (Creole, English, and Spanish), rum (cane juice and coconut rums), fruits, and spices. Belize arguably has more in common with its Caribbean island neighbors than its bordering Spanish-speaking countries. Known for its laid-back island lifestyle, vast jungles, and an underwater world of neon fish and twisted coral, Belize is a true tropical treasure.
When to Go
Many travel websites and experts will tell you that the best time to visit Belize is between the months of November and April, during the country’s dry season.
We suggest taking your trip in May, that way you can avoid the April crowds and potentially score lower prices on hotels/ activities. Beware though, there is a slightly higher risk of rain in May, so be prepared for some potential weather.
Additionally, the following local festivals occur annually in Belize. You may want to consider planning your trip around one of these events:
Wayward Spirits is your personal guide to all things tiki and tropical!
During the Golden Age of Tiki (1930s-1970s), tropical-themed cocktail bars and restaurants could be found in abundance in cities across the US. However, this Hollywood-born craze came to an abrupt halt in the 1980s after being declared déclassé, and lay dormant until its recent resurgence in popular culture.
With a tiki revival currently in full swing, Wayward Spirits is here to help you rediscover the sights, senses, and tastes from this nostalgic era, and provide our personal recommendations and expertise on the best exotic cocktail recipes, bars, restaurants, and travel destinations.
Here are the types of articles you will find on this blog:
Our Rating System
Our rating system is a simple 5-star scale (similar to Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.)
5 stars represents something we “LOVE”, and 1 star represents something we “LOATHE ENTIRELY”. We assign half point scores as well (i.e. 4.5 stars), especially for tougher decisions.
About the Author, John Enoch
My name is John Enoch, and I’m a professional relaxer, escapist traveler and self-discovered tiki cocktail and bar fanatic. From an early age, I was drawn to the allure of tropical destinations - especially Polynesia, Cook Islands, Tonga, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Central and South America.
In my free time, I enjoy traveling to these exotic locations, frequenting well-themed tiki bars, or perfecting cocktails using rums, ingredients, and flavors from around the world. When I’m is not working on perfecting a cocktail recipe, I work as a Strategy Director at Hall & Partners, a boutique market research consultancy in Los Angeles, CA.
As a consultant, I have the pleasure of traveling the globe, meeting people from various backgrounds and cultures, and helping brands develop better products and more meaningful relationships with consumers. Over the past 8 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with companies from a variety of industries, including dining and alcohol, hospitality, entertainment, technology, and gaming.
My work in foreign countries has furthered my appreciation for the unknown (and unfamiliar), which is central to my love of tiki and exotic cocktails, bars, and travel.
Hope you enjoy the Wayward Spirits Blog! Visit the About Me page to get in contact with me, or leave a comment below.
John Enoch, Founder of Wayward Spirits