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19 places to get a tiki drink in Tampa Bay

Here’s a list of ways to get your hands on a Mai Tai, Zombie and more.
 
The St. Petersburg Sling served at Zom Hee Chinese Restaurant in Seminole.
The St. Petersburg Sling served at Zom Hee Chinese Restaurant in Seminole. [ SANTANA, LUIS | St. Petersburg Times ]
Published March 7|Updated April 5

Between spring break crowds and the always lovely weather this time of year, the tropical vibes are strong right now. And with the recent opening of tiki-themed restaurant and bar Don the Beachcomber in Madeira Beach, we thought it was a good time to round up a list of places to get a tiki drink.

First, a bit of tiki history. According to Don the Beachcomber’s website, this country’s celebration of Polynesian culture kicked off in the 1930s in Hollywood, California, when Donn Beach (born Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt) opened Don the Beachcomber after traveling to the Caribbean and South Pacific. Gantt invented cocktails that blended several different types of rum and “exotic” ingredients, including the Zombie and the Mai Tai.

Soon after, Victor Bergeron — another tiki enthusiast — opened Trader Vic’s in Oakland, California. The rivalry between Gantt and Bergeron included the dispute of who in fact invented the Mai Tai. The widespread popularity of tiki culture faded over the decades, but it’s survived as a niche interest with themed bars and festivals throughout the country.

Our tropical landscape is the perfect backdrop for a traditional tiki bar, but the term is rather fluid here. Any place with a thatched hut calls itself a tiki bar, but not every place serves traditional tiki drinks.

What constitutes a tiki drink? Usually, blends of rum, fresh juices, spices and flavored syrups are at the core of the formula. Some of the drinks we found use different spirits to create updated versions.

Here are some suggestions, with a reminder to please drink responsibly.

Don the Beachcomber

The Three Dots and a Dash and the Zombie at Don the Beachcomber in Madeira Beach.
The Three Dots and a Dash and the Zombie at Don the Beachcomber in Madeira Beach. [ MAGGIE DUFFY | Times ]

This is the latest from 23 Restaurant Services, the company that operates Ford’s Garage and Tiki Docks. The group purchased Don the Beachcomber in 2022, with a plan to open 10 to 15 other locations throughout the Southeast over the next few years. The one in Madeira Beach on the first floor of the new Cambria Hotel is the first. While it runs the risk of being gimmicky, that is not the case here. The decor is spot-on, with a large bar with comfortable bar stools and ample seating. The drinks were delicately balanced with layers of rum, spices and flavored syrups like falernum and orgeat. The Zombie has three types of rum, something called “Don’s Mix,” falernum and fresh lime and is very potent — there is a limit of two per person, and we recommend you take that seriously! The Three Dots and a Dash blends rum with allspice, honey, falernum and fresh lime and orange juices. You can also get drinks to share and they have a nice selection of tiki-inspired mocktails. 15015 Madeira Way, Madeira Beach. 727-870-8454. donbeachcomber.com.

Tiki Docks Bar & Grill

A watermelon margarita is served at Tiki Docks at St. Petersburg's Maximo Marina.
A watermelon margarita is served at Tiki Docks at St. Petersburg's Maximo Marina. [ HELEN FREUND | Tampa Bay Times ]

With waterfront locations in St. Petersburg and Riverview, this place serves a pared-down offering of Don the Beachcomber cocktails. So try the Mai Tai (a blend of Jamaican and Martinique rums, almond and citrus liqueurs) or the Navy Grog (a blend of rums, citrus and honey) and get the real deal. Plus the views give major tiki vibes. 3769 50th Ave. S., St. Petersburg, 727-810-8454, and 10704 Palmetto St., Riverview, 813-683-8454. tikidocks.com.

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Saigon Blonde

The interior at Saigon Blonde in St. Petersburg, where Mai Tais are $6 on Tiki Tuesdays.
The interior at Saigon Blonde in St. Petersburg, where Mai Tais are $6 on Tiki Tuesdays. [ Times (2018) ]

This downtown St. Petersburg bar is themed for 1960s Vietnam, where the Saigon Lounge was an oasis. It’s sort of tiki-adjacent, but close enough to have a tiki bar and $6 Mai Tais from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tiki Tuesdays. 265 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. 727-827-7577. saigonblonde.com.

Zom Hee Chinese Restaurant

A tiki drink at Zom Hee Chinese Restaurant in Seminole.
A tiki drink at Zom Hee Chinese Restaurant in Seminole.

For a long time, this Seminole staple was the only place to get authentic tiki drinks and vibes. It remains a go-to, with Mai Tais, a Hong Kong Bar Gin Sling, a St. Petersburg Sling (the only difference is fresh juice) and the Confucius Itch (a frozen drink with gin, sloe gin and passionfruit), to name just a few. 9015 Park Blvd., Seminole. 727-391-8393. zomhee.com.

Hula Bay Club

The waterfront ambience of Tampa Bay is a good backdrop for this restaurant’s Duke’s Retired Surfer’s Island Bar, named for the father of modern surfing, Duke Kahanamoku. Its Mai Tai is the Trader Vic’s version, and the spot has other tiki favorites like a Singapore Sling. But drinks like the Longboard (rye whiskey, ginger syrup, pineapple juice and basil) and the Lazy Hammock (mezcal, blue curacao, mango and fresh lemon) are modern interpretations. 5210 W. Tyson Ave., Tampa. 813-837-4852. hulabayclub.com.

Lost and Found

This retro St. Pete bar’s decor looks like Grandma’s living room in the 1970s, so it’s a tad surprising that it has a Zombie and a Singapore Sling (gin, benedictine, Grand Marnier, cherry liqueur, grenadine, pineapple, lime, bitters) on its menu. But maybe that’s proof that tiki is a state of mind. 2420 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. lostandfoundstpete.com.

Trophy Fish

The Pistachio Mai Tai at Trophy Fish.
The Pistachio Mai Tai at Trophy Fish. [ MICHELLE STARK | Times ]

This seafood spot with locations in St. Pete and Tampa coined the term “boat drinks” to describe the nautical vibes of the bar menu, but our absolute favorite drink is the Pistachio Mai Tai, an elevated update on the tiki classic. 2060 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, and 5901 N. Florida Ave., Tampa. trophyfish.com.

The Honu Restaurant and Tiki Bar

Dunedin's The Honu has a tiki bar with a large assortment of rums.
Dunedin's The Honu has a tiki bar with a large assortment of rums. [ Courtesy of Chris Fasick ]

This Dunedin spot serves Polynesian fare, and its Ka Pakele Rum Bar boasts one of the most robust rum lists around. That makes for an ideal tiki drink, like the Rose Runner, with Charman’s Reserve Spiced Rum, Plantation 3 Star Rum, orange, pineapple, rose, lime, blackberry and banana. Spirits like gin and tequila are the star of other cocktails, like the Sorrel Sour, with Fy gin, aquafaba, lemon, hibiscus, honey and Angostura bitters. 516 Grant St., Dunedin. 727-333-7777. thehonurestaurant.com.

Ikki Woo Woo’s Beach Bar

The Thunderbird Beach Resort in Treasure Island is home to Ikki Woo Woo's Beach Bar.
The Thunderbird Beach Resort in Treasure Island is home to Ikki Woo Woo's Beach Bar. [ Tampa Bay Times ]

Beware the statue of Ikki Woo Woo peeking down from the hut at the Thunderbird Beach Resort in Treasure Island. This tiny hut serves potent tiki cocktails like the Zombie and the Florida Painkiller (Gasparilla Key Lime Pie rum, pina colada mix, orange and pineapple juices, nutmeg). Enjoy them while listening to live music. 10700 107th Ave., Treasure Island.

Sandbar Tiki Bar

Just steps from the Thunderbird at the Treasure Island Beach Resort, you can saddle up to the bar under the thatched roof and enjoy a Teenie Bikini (coconut rum, fresh pineapple juice) or a Sunset Punch (Bacardi Tropical rum, amaretto, orange and pineapple juice, grenadine) and the view. 10800 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island. 727-322-7022. opalcollection.com/treasure-island.

Bamboo Beach Bar & Grill

Get your frozen concoction fix with drinks like the Revitalizing Lava Flow (rum, pina colada and strawberry swirl) or the Banana Cabana (spiced rum, banana and pina colada) and keep the glass at this Madeira Beach stalwart. 13025 Village Blvd., Madeira Beach. 727-398-5401. bamboobeachbarandgrill.com.

Bar Tiki

Bar Tiki at the Clearwater Beach Municipal Marina.
Bar Tiki at the Clearwater Beach Municipal Marina. [ Baystar Restaurant Group ]

This bar at the Clearwater Beach Municipal Marina has stellar views and a bunch of tiki drink choices. In addition to traditional ones, there are a few invented by the staff, like the Koa Smash (Don Q Reserva, amaretto, lemon juice, apple juice, pomegranate, simple syrup and black walnut bitters). The Niu Colada (a classic pina colada) and Dirty Louie’s Bathwater (Rumhaven, banana puree, lime juice, blue curacao and pineapple juice) are both $7 on the daily happy hour menu. This spot also has shareable drinks served in festive vessels, like the house volcano bowl, which is 48 ounces of Don Q Reserva, Gold, 151 and secret ingredients. It serves six and costs $75. 25 Causeway Blvd., Clearwater Beach. bartiki.com.

Pier Teaki

A Pier Teaki Rum Runner is offered at Pier Teaki in St. Petersburg. It is made with Bounty Silver and Dark rum, blackberry brandy, pineapple, orange juice, grenadine and banana liqueur.
A Pier Teaki Rum Runner is offered at Pier Teaki in St. Petersburg. It is made with Bounty Silver and Dark rum, blackberry brandy, pineapple, orange juice, grenadine and banana liqueur. [ Times (2020) ]

Perched atop the St. Pete Pier with million-dollar views of Tampa Bay, the tiki vibes at this spot are almost as strong as the drinks, which come in souvenir mugs for $22 or a shareable vessel for $28. All the usual suspects are on the menu, like the rum runner (Bounty Silver and Dark rum, blackberry brandy, banana liqueur, pineapple, orange juice, grenadine) and the Jungle Bird (blonde rum, pineapple juice, aperitivo). But original drinks with tequila like the Pink Lava (reposado, pineapple, hibiscus and lime) are a fun update. 800 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. 727-513-8325. pierteaki.com.

The Getaway

Patrons enjoy their drinks while playing giant Jenga at the Getaway, a tiki bar on Gandy Boulevard in St. Petersburg, in 2015.
Patrons enjoy their drinks while playing giant Jenga at the Getaway, a tiki bar on Gandy Boulevard in St. Petersburg, in 2015. [ Times (2015) ]

Pull up by land or sea to this Gandy Boulevard oasis that has traditional tiki drinks including the Zombie, Mai Tai and Painkilla. It also serves fun concoctions like It’s a Bucs Life, with spiced rum, coconut milk, cream of coconut, strawberry puree and black salt rim. It also serves a selection of frozen drinks and a large variety of margaritas. 13090 Gandy Blvd., St. Petersburg. thegetawaytampabay.com.

Ka’Tiki

Bartender Dyan Wellington works to keep serving drinks during a busy Friday morning Ka'Tiki in Sunset Beach in 2017.
Bartender Dyan Wellington works to keep serving drinks during a busy Friday morning Ka'Tiki in Sunset Beach in 2017. [ Times (2017) ]

This Sunset Beach landmark is more geared toward frozen drinks like pina coladas, daiquiris and rum runners, but add a floater of Bacardi 151 rum on top and the vibe is right. It also has killer happy hour deals, like $3 wells from 4 to 6 p.m. weekdays and $3 shots of Fireball and apple pie moonshine every day. On Sundays, build your own Bloody Mary for $2.50. With those deals and live music every day, it’s no wonder the place is often packed. 8803 W. Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island. 727-360-2272. katikisunsetbeach.com.

Twisted Tiki Pub and Grille

At this St. Pete Beach pub, drinks like the Aloha Punch (light rum, pineapple rum and coconut rum, pineapple and cranberry juice, coconut flakes and a rum-soaked pineapple) come in tiki mugs that you can purchase. There is also a drink called the Quarantini that surely was developed during the pandemic. It’s made with Malibu rum, blue curacao and pineapple juice. 340 Corey Ave., St. Pete Beach. 727-914-8881. twistedtikistpetebeach.com.

Shephard’s Tiki Beach

Boasting a “world-famous entertainment complex,” this Clearwater Beach resort has brought a variety of famous musical acts to perform on its multiple stages. One of them is on the waterfront at Tiki Beach, where drinks including the frozen Tiki Hurricane (light and dark rum, passion puree, orange and sour) and the Ultimate Mai Tai flow like lava. Shephard’s Beach Resort. 619 S. Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach. shephards.com.

Intermezzo Coffee and Cocktails

The Rum Punch No. 2 cocktail at Intermezzo.
The Rum Punch No. 2 cocktail at Intermezzo. [ MICHELLE STARK | Times ]

If you want to conjure tiki vibes in an otherwise tiki-less place, don’t miss the Rum Punch No. 2 cocktail currently on Intermezzo’s happy hour menu. The downtown St. Pete cocktail bar expertly crafts drinks in a wide variety of genres, and this recent addition to the $7 happy hour list mixes a house rum blend, falernum, banana liqueur, pineapple, lime and bitters for a refreshing tiki feel. 1111 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.

The Tiki Tavern

This Safety Harbor tavern is also a sports bar, so you can sip a tiki drink while watching the big game. The Tiki Tavern Old Fashioned features house bourbon, Elmakule Tiki bitters and orange bitters. While the Big Kahuna Fizz isn’t a traditional tiki drink, it certainly sounds refreshing, with grapefruit vodka, Aperol, mango puree, lemon juice, lavender water and prosecco. 201 Main St. Safety Harbor. 727-843-8454. thetikitavern.com.