Tiki – Beach Bar Definition

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Definitions of a Tiki & Beach Bar

One of my fun passions in life is visiting Beach and Tiki bars. To get an idea of where I’m coming from, let your mind drift to a place with warm breezes, sunny beaches and where your toes dip playfully in the water. I must share in this fun pastime because I see other like-minded individuals enjoying this same lively setting. I find Tiki and Beach bars so interesting that I began questioning their origins and how the words got their meaning.



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Although my cocktail somewhat muddled my research, it transported to a Polynesian-themed setting where Beach and Tiki bars are easily interchangeable.

With their thatched roofs, water views, Polynesian embellishments, tropical beverages and beach locations, both Beach and Tiki bars have become synonymous in their references.

The Definition of a Tiki Bar

A Tiki bar, determined by its tropical themed cocktail service where they primarily offer rum-based drinks with decorative adornments such as cherries, pineapple, and colorful umbrellas. You can also identify a Tiki bar based on its Polynesian décor.

The Tiki Bar push started the United States in the wake of World War II. Our recently returning veterans with an affection for the South Pacific. In response to this need, from many veterans, vanguards of bar industry filled the void.

The first U.S. Tiki bar was “The Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar” started in 1945 in San Francisco at the Fairmont Hotel. The Tonga Room designed by Mel Melvin, a famed Hollywood designer. Covering the hotel’s pool, making it a tropical lagoon, with a free-floating stage for a live band. A “rainstorm” occurred every 30 minutes, with thunder and lightning and water falling into the lagoon. Tonga Room is now condos.

The Definition of a Beach Bar

A Beach Bar is a tad bit different than its Tiki bar counterpart based on its oceanfront coastlines and beachfront sandy shores. Although not as elaborate in décor, a Beach bar still offers cocktails in a warm, scenic and lovely tropical setting.

The earliest reference concerning the term beach bar is the El Kiosket. They called a “bar on the beach”? The “El Kiosket” opened in Cataluna, Spain around 1913. This restaurant on the beach offered a terrace overlooking the beautiful city of Cataluna. The El Kiosket swiftly became the spot to enjoy the views and socialize. Not till 1949, when a writer and regular customer César Ruano, decided to referred to the El Kiosket as a “Chiringuito” Spanish for beach bar in Spain. A similar nickname Chiringo was used by Cuban restaurants.

Based on similar food, same drinks, and similar customers, comparing a Tiki from a Beach bar is like trying to differentiate between a Chili’s and Applebee’s dining experience. If you’re still trying to decipher the differences, there may be obvious distinctions, but they are too little to worry over.

Did you know there’s a difference between a tiki drink and a tropical drink?

Whether you still view it as a Tiki Bar or Beach Bar setting, the torches will always remain lit. Time always seems to fly when you’re having “rum”.

So, by default the understudy replacement for the Tiki Bar, of course, Beach Bars.