Tiki Puka Puka
Tiki Puka Puka

A rum affair with tiki cocktails

Rum is a colonial hangover, pun intended, after the British officials started a distillery in Kasauli in Solan in Himachal Pradesh in 1855.

Cocktails are not really riding on the coat tails of their original base. Everything edible or drinkable has to be intriguing with legacy hints; tiki cocktails fit the bill. Hallmarked by summery and fresh ingredients, Polynesian-inspired libations channel island vibes like no other. Now Indian bars and restaurants are going tiki tock across the country.

Tiki cocktails are having their moment, “due to their vibrant flavours,” says Mohit Badh, head mixologist at New Delhi’s KhiKhi—a restobar famous for its tiki cocktail simply named ‘TIKI Style’. It contains Bacardi Cuatrorum, coconut cream, gardenia syrup, passion fruit, mango and basil. The Indian love of rum also plays a significant role, being a key ingredient in many tiki drinks.

Pacifico Tiki Grog
Pacifico Tiki Grog

“Additionally, the Indian palate appreciates the balance of sweetness and complexity found in these cocktails,” believes Badh. Rum is a colonial hangover, pun intended, after the British officials started a distillery in Kasauli in Solan in Himachal Pradesh in 1855.

The newly launched Hawaiian-themed restobar Waikiki at Mumbai’s Peninsula Grand Hotel has the apricot rum-based zombie, the coconut rum-based Island Grog (beverage manager Deepak Singh Koranga’s personal favourite) and the white rum-based Tiki Puka Puka.

“Among the array of tiki cocktails on our menu, my personal favourite is ‘The Secret of the Lost Lagoon’. It is a blend of premium rum, maraschino liqueur, Campari, pineapple juice, passion fruit syrup and freshly squeezed lime juice. All these create a harmonious explosion of flavours,” says Souvik Bhattacharya, bartender at The St. Regis Goa Resort’s Susegado, Seafood Grill & Bar.

Fog Cutter
Fog Cutter

The OTT presentation of tiki cocktails is part of its cachet. “Tiki cocktails are often as much a visual feast as they are a treat for the taste buds,” says Stanley Fernandes, corporate bar manager at Kyma, Mumbai. A restobar with an outpost in Pune too that has an entire subsection of the menu dedicated to tiki cocktails.

“Typically, these drinks are served in eye-catching, themed glassware such as tiki mugs, coconut shells, or carved pineapples. The garnishes are where tiki cocktails truly shine. They create a tropical paradise,” he says.

The tiki cocktail started with the opening of the very first ‘tiki’ restaurant back in 1934 in Hollywood by Donn Beach. Regardless of who invented the Mai Tai, it is clear to see that Beach was the first person to start mixing fresh syrups, juices and rum. This practice is what makes cocktail a true tiki cocktail and was carried out throughout the renaissance of the tiki cocktail, leading to some of the great cocktails we now see plastered across almost every menu in every bar we ever go to.

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The New Indian Express
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