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Tiki Style: Return of the Killer Zombie

Mixologists are garnishing cocktails with paper umbrellas as tiki drinks like the Zombie make a comeback yet again.

Credit the renewed fascination with surfing or the influx of superpremium rums: Serious-minded bartenders are worshipping the tiki gods again. Tiki culture dates back to the 1930s, when a drifter named Ernest Beaumont-Gantt opened Don the Beachcomber in Hollywood. Inspired by Beaumont-Gantt’s travels in the South Pacific, this wildly popular spot became the model for all things tiki, with its high-octane rum drinks (the Zombie), faux Chinese food (pupu platters) and pseudo-Polynesian style (rattan furniture, wooden masks). Today, restaurateurs continuing the tiki tradition visit Bikini Bar (, a vintage surf shop in Manhattan that offers a well-curated selection of tiki accessories. Meanwhile, mixologists at trendsetting spots like Elettaria and the Rusty Knot in New York City and the newly opened Copa de Oro in Santa Monica, California, are digging up recipes from legendary tiki-era bartenders and reinventing drinks like the Mai Tai.

Published November 2008
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