When someone hears the word “Tiki” several images may come to mind – Tiki Torches burning poolside on a summer night, a dark bar with exotic music playing in the background, or people drinking cocktails from strange looking mugs and bowls.

Tiki parties have often been thought of as a summer party theme; however, an escape to the tropics may be just what you and your friends need in the colder months of the year. This guide can help you plan a Tiki party any time of the year. After locking down a date and starting a guest list, it is time to think about the party decor, food, and cocktail selection.

The Decor

At any time of year you can transform your party space into an island paradise by decorating with string lights, using raffia trimmed table cloths and umbrella covers to provide a tropical flair. Add a few tribal masks and torches along with any other Polynesian themed decor you like to create the Tiki setting for your guests.

The final touch is the music. If you want to go the classic route, load up on classic Hawaiian tunes or the Exotica music of Arthur Lyman and Martin Denny. For a more modern flair there is Easton Island and the music of Don Tiki. One other choice is the music of surf guitar artists like Dick Dale, Los Straightjackets, and The Mystery Men. Combining all three genres into one big playlist ensures a fun and ever changing soundtrack for your party.

Tiki Cocktais for a winter tiki party

Tiki Cocktails

The Feast

The food menu is an opportunity to have fun and go outside the normal party fare. If you want to go the route of “Classic American Tiki”, offer beef and chicken dishes with a Chinese or Cantonese spin. Examples include Teriyaki Beef over rice, chicken and vegetable skewers, and spring rolls.

The other favorite is the Hawaiian Luau feast. You can go full Pork “Pig” barbecue or, on a smaller scale, offer crock pot Kalua Pork with Spam sliders, slaw, and pineapple side dishes. Both options go well with fruit, vegetable plates, and bread to round out the entree. Coconut cake, grilled pineapple upside down cake, or fruit jello are all classic desserts. Creating a good menu ensures your guests are well fed and comfortable the entire night so they can make the most of the festivities.

The Cocktails

It simply would not be a Tiki party without offering a few cocktails for your guests to enjoy. There is a wealth of resources available providing a vast selection of cocktails from which to choose. The works of Beachbum Berry and the “Trader Vic’s Tiki Party” book cover the classics for both food and drink. For modern cocktail creations look to the works of Kahuna Kevin or “Tiki Drinks” by Nicole Weston and Robert Sharp.

As your guests arrive, greet them with a lei and an “Aloha” along with a welcome cocktail.

Here are a few examples of classic cocktails to offer them throughout the party:

Mai Tai cocktail

Trader Vic’s 1944 Mai Tai

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Trader Vic’s 1944 Mai Tai

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. Amber Martinique Rum
  • 1 oz. Dark Jamaican Rum
  • 1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1/2 oz. Orgeat
  • 1/2 oz. Cointreau
  • Garnish with Mint and Spent Lime Half. (Fruit Stick – Orange, Pineapple, Cherry – Optional)

Preparation: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, except the garnish. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with spent lime, mint. You can also float some over proof dark rum on top of the cocktail.


Cocktail in a shrunken skull for tiki party decor

Shrunken Skull

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Shrunken Skull

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. Barbados Gold Rum
  • 1 oz. Demerara Rum, Such as El Dorado 5 Year
  • 1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 oz. Grenadine
  • Club Soda

Preparation: Mix all ingredients except club soda in shaker with crushed ice. Shake and strain into a Tiki mug or rocks glass half filled with crushed ice. Top off with Club soda and garnish with fruit stick.


Flaming Scorpion Bowl

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. Rum, such as Bacardi
  • 2 oz. Gin such as Bulldog
  • 1 oz. Brandy
  • 1 oz. 151 Overproof Rum (to Soak Sugar Cube – See Below)
  • 4 oz. Orange Juice
  • 3 oz. Lemon or Pineapple Juice (Depending on How Tart or Sweet You Want It)
  • 1 oz. Grenadine
  • 1 1/2 oz. Orgeat
  • 3 cups of Crushed Ice
  • Sugar Cube Soaked In Overproof 151 Used for Volcano

Preparation: Pour all ingredients except soaked sugar cube into pitcher. Stir and pour into Volcano bowl. Place vessel on table, place sugar cube in volcano, and ignite cube. Add long drinking straws. Fruit garnish optional. Serves four to six guests.