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