Kick back with new tiki drinks

Anthony Dominic, Crave
Island Riddims at Curio

As more and more craft spirits flood the Ohio market, bartenders are expanding their definition of tiki drinks in tandem. Forget mai tais and Captain Morgan; this summer, kick back with one of these flavor-driven concoctions.


Visit M at Miranova for a mashup between a daiquiri and a dark and stormy. Head bartender Cris Dehlavi gussies up her Stormy Daiquiri ($13) with agave nectar, three dashes of Scrappy's cardamom bitters and Ron Zacapa 23. After you cut through the ginger beer, expect oaky honey, caramel and raisin-like fruit notes from this aged Guatemalan rum that's good enough to sip neat.


Think eggs have no place in a boat drink? Think again. Denmark's Capricorn Flip ($10) is batched with aged Appleton V/X rum (think citrusy, nutty flavors), vanilla syrup, house-made vanilla-peppercorn bitters and, you got it, a whole, dry-shaken egg. Denmark assistant manager James DeFrance garnishes the drink with pretty pink peppercorns, which, together with the bitters, make this cocktail as good to nose as it is to sip.

Bonus: Denmark's summer menu, due out in July, will include an entire category of tiki-inspired cocktails.


Grass Skirt Tiki Room is full of nods to the storied Kahiki restaurant, including the recipe for Ahu's Navy Grog #2 ($9). Matt "Kuku Ahu" Thatcher, co-founder of the local Fraternal Order of Moai social club and consultant to Grass Skirt, reimagined Kahiki's popular grog mix with Myer's Original Dark Jamaican-style rum, Fernet-Branca (a minty, bitter liqueur), falernum syrup (think ginger, almond and clove flavors), citrus and a dash of Angostura bitters.


For Curio's Island Riddims ($12), bar owner Travis Owens pairs toasted coconut flakes and Monkey Shoulder Scotch in a sous vide machine. He then refrigerates the concoction, allowing the coconut oils to fat-wash the whiskey. The scotch is then mixed with lime, cream of coconut and Batavia-Arrack, an aromatic spirit pot-distilled from sugarcane and red rice. "The Monkey Shoulder gives it a smoky, boozy flavor," says bar manager Rebecca Monday, "but it's very smooth, as well, mellowing out from the crushed ice into a more tropical-style drink. It's our semi-sweet variation of a pina colada."


Balancing Act

The trick to tempering the booze in a tiki drink? A splash of flat water. "A little dilution-it wakens up the flavors at play by making the alcohol a little less powerful, a little less in your face," says Denmark assistant manager James DeFrance. The other necessity: fresh juice. DeFrance says freshly squeezed citrus is the difference between a balanced cocktail and a sugary, artificial mess. He also warns against mass-produced spiced rums that can overwhelm the palate and obscure juices and syrups.