Do you have trouble figuring out what to get for the tiki lover in your life? Maybe one of these ideas will sound like just the thing.
For the home tiki bartender:
I know that tight-stomach feeling when you’re faced with a wall of unfamiliar bottles at the liquor store. Let’s make it easy for you.
Here’s my dead simple rule of thumb for buying rum blind: look for a brand you recognize, at a price point you’re comfortable paying, and then find a different rum, one you don’t recognize, at about that same price point. In the world of rum, if you’re not paying for the company’s mega marketing budget, you’re more likely to be buying some good—or at least interesting—product.
Ready to get a little more involved in your search? People who are making tiki drinks can always use more aged Martinique or Demerara rums. Martinique means rums from the island of Martinique, and Demerara means rums from the Demerara river region of Guyana. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t find Martinique or Demerara rums, they can be a little hard to find. Start your search at a nicer liquor store, or at least one with a pretty big selection.
Just want a list of brands to look for? I don’t want to send you on a wild goose chase, many of these brands have limited distribution and may not even be available in your state. But here are some rum brands that tend to be popular with the tiki crowd: Clement, La Favorite, Neisson, Rhum J.M., Saint James, El Dorado, Hamilton (especially the 151), Denizen Merchant’s Reserve, Banks, Lost Spirits, Smith & Cross.
If you want to order some rum and have it shipped, Hi-Time in Costa Mesa has a great online selection, and can ship pretty economically (in particular, they have a great flat-rate deal within CA, AZ and NV.)
• Hi-Time website
Quality drink syrups
Tiki drinks call for some very specific syrups, and not everyone has the patience, ability or desire to make them at home. Luckily, we don’t have to anymore: we have B.G. Reynolds. B.G. Reynolds is owned by Blair Reynolds, longtime tiki drink fanatic, and owner of the celebrated Hale Pele in Portland, Oregon. The entire B.G. Reynolds line of syrups would be put to quick use by any home tiki bartender.
• B.G. Reynolds website
Another excellent purveyor of drink syrups is Small Hand Foods, which is particularly well-known for its orgeat, and they have just added passion fruit syrup to their line. Owner Jennifer Colliau is well-known in the bar industry for her intense focus on quality.
• Small Hand Foods website
Beachbum Berry barware
Beachbum Berry has partnered with Cocktail Kingdom to produce a great line of tiki-specific barware. There’s a special mold for making ice cones for Navy Grogs, beautiful vintage-style Pearl Diver glasses, swizzle cups for making a just-so 151 Swizzle… there’s more, and it’s all of excellent quality.
• Cocktail Kingdom website
An ice crusher
Many (most?) tiki drinks call for crushed ice, and it really does make a difference in how the drink turns out. But crushing ice can be a pain! Having an easy way to crush ice is a game changer. For the smaller budget, a Lewis bag and a mallet are wonderful tools, and easy to use. If you’re wanting to splurge a bit, I use an electric ice crusher, the Waring Pro Professional Ice Crusher. The Waring Pro is the one most of us home tiki bartenders use, it’s a great little workhorse and has served me well for years now.
A drink mixer
In my recent article about the importance of shaking your tiki drinks well, I mentioned I don’t have a drink mixer. Lots of friends chimed in with the drink mixer they use, and several people suggested this inexpensive Hamilton Beach Drink Mixer. If you want to level up to what the pros use, the Hamilton Beach commercial model is what is in use at Smuggler’s Cove. If you REALLY want to go over-the-top, there’s a three-spindle version. If you know and love Craig Hermann, he is dreaming of a three-spindle Hamilton Beach drink mixer in mint green. (If one of my relatives is reading this, I think I’d like that simple, inexpensive drink mixer in black!)
Tiki bartenders spend a lot of time juicing citrus. You want a juicer that presses the citrus; the style that spin are okay, but they can grind into the pith a bit and make the juice bitter. I bought an old Juice King off of eBay, but among the modern products there are many citrus presses to choose from; this Jupiter model looks pretty good.
For the home tiki bar builder:
A tiki lamp by Kahaka
Kahaka (a.k.a. Woody Greenwood) has been making tiki lamps for many years now, and he just keeps getting better and better. his warm-light constructions use wood, bamboo, tapa cloth, resin, and other materials to create gorgeous lights that become anchors in the decoration of a tiki bar. Look through some of the lamps he’s made in the past, and order your own by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Kahaka lamps on Flickr
A custom carved tiki
A tiki bar has to have some tikis! I suspect most home tiki bar owners have a tiki they’re dreaming of, one that doesn’t exist yet, but that they’d like to have carved for them. This is a very special gift, it won’t come cheaply, but it would become a treasured centerpiece in your loved one’s special space. Plan on spending about $100-200/foot, it will cost more for greater detail. Tastes in tiki carvings can be very personal; rather than direct you to a carver, I will instead suggest that you have the gift recipient make the decisions and arrangements for having the carving done, your gift will be footing the bill. If your gift recipient needs help finding a carver, I would love to try to help you find a good carver near you, email me at email@example.com.
An eBay gift card
The thrill of the hunt is strong in tikiphiles, but sometimes you just want to have what your heart desires, now. eBay to the rescue! An eBay gift card will let your loved one buy some weird little doodad you would never have selected yourself, but that they just KNOW they need, badly.
• eBay gift card
Hardware store gift card
Just as with any other home improvement project, you are never, ever done with trips to the hardware store. You can be sure that a gift card to their favorite local hardware store will get used.
For the tiki jetsetter:
Vintage aloha wear
Many tiki travelers bop around the world visiting some of the outrageously fun tiki weekenders that happen all over the place. And one of the most fun things about these gatherings are the bright pops of vintage color seen on shirts and dresses. Aloha wear can be tricky to find locally, don’t expect to be able to walk into any old store and find something. These days, it’s easiest to find vintage aloha wear on eBay or Etsy. If you know your gift recipient’s measurements, and feel confident you know their tastes, then shop away… but a safer bet will be a gift card.
• eBay gift card
• Etsy gift card
Tiki luggage tags
A Tiki Tabby purse
Tiki Tabby‘s main attraction are the amazing, AMAZING purses. They’re a splurge, but they are showstoppers and worth it. I’m particularly in love with this gorgeous one-of-a-kind Papua New Guinea style purse. I could never cheat on my darling Bamboo Handbag, so I need you guys to buy these and parade around with them so I can enjoy them vicariously.
• Tiki Tabby Totes on Etsy
A Sophista-tiki outfit
Sophista-tiki (a.k.a. Dawn Frasier) is a longtime tiki artist, who designs her own beautiful fabrics, and sews them into shirts, blouses, neckties and matching handbags. See her (massive!) fabric selection on Spoonflower, and then place your order for an item made with her fabric through her Etsy store.
• Sophista-tiki on Spoonflower
• Sophista-tiki on Etsy
For the budding musician:
A ukulele from Ukuleles of Felton
Ukuleles of Felton has been around for five years now, but its owner, Tiki King, has been part of the tiki and uke scenes for far, far longer. Felton is a little town in the mountains above Santa Cruz, California. No need to make your way to Felton, the friendly Tiki King can help you via phone or email. When I wanted to buy a ukulele for my mom earlier this year, it was Tiki King who helped me. Without my even having to get out of bed, I emailed him, he helped me choose what to get her, and then he shipped it to her in Oregon. He even has some sweet custom tiki models.
• Ukuleles of Felton website
But what about tiki mugs?
Ah, tiki mugs! All the world’s tikiphiles need tiki mugs. So, here’s the deal: there are so many wonderful tiki mug artists out there these days, that it would take a whole article just to scratch the surface, and I don’t want to leave anyone out. Plus, you don’t know what your loved one already has, or what their heart desires (unless your tiki lover is on Ooga-Mooga, then you’re in luck). Absolutely, get your tiki loving friend a tiki mug, but the way you’ll want to do it is by flat-out asking what they want, or paying close attention to the hints they’re dropping.
Now that you’ve got the just-right gift, wrap it up in the just-right tiki gift wrap!
Want more ideas?
Check out the Critiki Gift Guide for 2016!