2 Tiki spots open in Edmonton

2 Tiki spots open in Edmonton

Edmonton may be in the grip of a deep freeze but it’s sweltering inside two of the city’s newest bars.

Both Honi Honi in the downtown core and Tiki Tiki on Whyte, Tiki-themed restaurants, opened within the last year. Those behind the establishments say they’re part of a resurgence in Tiki popularity.

“It got past it being out of fashion, I think,” Honi Honi bartender Travis McKenna told CTV News Edmonton during a recent interview.

“Young people are kind of discovering everything again.”

Tiki culture originated in the United States in the 1930s and is generally influenced by South Pacific, southeast Asian and Caribbean cultures.

Joshua Soares and his Tiki Tiki on Whyte co-owner were inspired to bring Tiki to Edmonton after experiencing the rich experiences of Tiki spots throughout Las Vegas and San Diego.

“You can go to any Tiki bar in Northern America and ask for a ‘Three Dots and a Dash’ and they know exactly how to make that cocktail. You can also go to any Tiki bar and get a spirit-forward cocktail, but you’re also going to get a fun atmosphere where people are dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, they’re dressed in a t-shirt and shorts, they’ll have a leis on.”

His family-friendly business aims to serve high quality food and cocktails inspired by Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures.

Meanwhile Honi Honi – which does serve light snacks – has focused its efforts more on the rum spectrum.

A sign for Honi Honi, a Tiki bar in downtown Edmonton, is seen in this photo. (CTV News Edmonton / Galen McDougall)

“Tiki itself is the vehicle of rum. And rum is becoming more popular as a spirit, again, as well. One of the best things that’s happened over the past year – we seem to be right in front of it – we are getting all of these rums we were only reading about five years ago,” McKenna explained.

He added, laughing: “[Customers] can expect to walk or cab home. We don’t pull punches with the drinks here.”

Soares added, “What makes [Tiki drinks] so fun and entertaining is the flair to them. Drinks come with fire. Drinks come with lights… You get a different Tiki ornament on your drink. You get large pieces of mint coming at you. You get full stocks of pineapple that we personally cut and soak in maple syrup and char.”

A sign for Tiki Tiki on Whyte in Edmonton is seen in this photo. (CTV News Edmonton / Sean McClune)

“Lots of little umbrellas, lots of garnishes,” McKenna confirmed. “Definitely, they look great.”

Adding to the atmosphere in both places is that the thermostat is set to 28 C – the inverse of recent temperatures in Alberta’s capital city.

“I think it’s awesome, especially on a cold day like today. It’s nice to have somewhere that makes you feel like you’re in the tropics,” one customer, Amber Deeves, told CTV News Edmonton.

“People just like escapism. Like, right now, it’s -30 C outside but you come in here and it feels like you’re on the island,” McKenna said.

“My bartender’s wearing shorts right now,” Soares pointed out. “It sets the tone for something different.”

He wants to see more Tiki spots open up, like the cross section that can be found in Vegas.

“They’re all completely different. You’ll get the same Mai Thai, you’ll get the same zombie cocktail, but you’re going to get a completely different experience,” he said.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Sean McClune and Galen McDougall 

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