The Bar Reimagining Modern Tiki Cocktails

The Missionary’s Downfall is a sinful concoction of Caribbean rum, pineapple, mint, peach and honey.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Tiki cocktails like Mai Tais, Zombies, Grass Skirts and Painkillers get a bad rap – they’re rubbished as tacky, too sweet or just plain silly. You’ve definitely had one either at a theme party (the Singapore Sling), or when checking into your island resort. They’re recognisable by their Pacific Island style: loads of ice and tropical fruits and, yes, little umbrellas.

But they needn’t be tacky, because Tiki-style drinks played an important role in cocktail history by introducing rum to the masses. And new bar Pacifica (from the peeps who brought you 28 Hongkong) wants to remind you that before the Tiki became a cheesy joke, it was a cocktail jewel.

The bartenders at this cosy 10-seater have reinvented Tiki classics with modern artisanal spirits, progressive interpretations and culinary techniques to give you a new appreciation of their fun-loving ethos. All cocktails are $25. Hook up with the Night Nurse (stiffened with mescal), or try your luck with Return of the Jiangshi (a ghostly Zombie with cognac and rye whisky). Tiki? Tacky no more. – DFL

43 Tanjong Pagar Road, tel: 8121-1462

Don the Beachcomber brought Tiki culture to Hollywood – from the ’30s to the ’50s – through his namesake bars. Don labelled all his secret mixes so his bartenders didn’t know what the ingredients were (thus, recipes couldn’t be stolen). Over the years, though, experts and Tiki historians figured that Spice #2 in Zombie was a blend of vanilla and allspice with a hint of clove.

My Reading Room
At this bar, you’re reminded that Cantonese cuisine played a role in Tiki’s heyday – the cheap, greasy food was served to get people to drink more. We recommend the Crab Rangoon (left) and Blistered Padron Peppers.