I’ve heard a few people say recently that they think the tiki craze is over, and I think I know what they mean. Tiki was heralded as the ‘next big thing’ much as tequila was before that, and while it has grown in popularity, and become more mainstream it has never really exploded in the way that was predicted. That’s not entirely surprising as it’s a niche style of drinking, but to say it’s dead seems a bit of an exaggeration to me.
Tiki, as I’ve written before, is a style of drinks inspired by Polynesia and tropical island culture and is predominantly based around rum, with plenty of exotic fruits, juices, syrups and liqueurs thrown in for good measure. It was originally popularised in the 1940s America when these enticing flavours from far-flung shores were a welcome bit of escapism after the gloom of WWII.
A few years ago there was a definite resurgence of interest in this style of drinking, with Tiki bars and nightclubs popping up on a regular basis. Of course many were quick to jump on the bandwagon to exclaim that Tiki would be the next big thing. Even if that promised explosion has somewhat failed to deliver, Tiki has still managed to establish a firm place within our global drinking culture. In almost every major city you will find at least one or two bars dedicated to tiki drinks, and on many cocktail menus you’ll find not only the classic Mai Tai or Zombie, but other modern tiki inspired cocktails. So to say that tiki is dead, to me at least, seems too strong a statement. Perhaps it would be fairer to say that tiki has found its place within modern cocktail culture, and has indeed added to it. Tiki isn’t dead, it’s alive and well, but in a limited way, and for that reason I say tiki is here to stay.