Tiki Bar Essentials
The first tiki bar was opened in Hollywood, California, in 1933, by a man who would soon change his legal name to Donn Beach. So began a tradition not just of exotic decor (Polynesian artifacts with a sheen of settler kitsch) and cocktail extravagance (Beach invented the Zombie about a year later) but also great, smooth music. The recipe for this sonic cocktail includes one part midcentury exotica, like Martin Denny’s mysterious soundscapes, and one part Hawaiian pop, as in the smooth crooning of Don Ho. Then add a splash of fun-loving ’60s surf rock, and you’ve created the perfect tiki bar playlist. This is music that’s familiarly unfamiliar, a journey of the mind that encourages the listener to relax, undo the top button of their shirt, and order something sweet.