Want to host the ultimate summer parties? Why not set up your own Tiki Bar right in your backyard? Whisk your guests away to an exotic South Pacific island without even leaving the neighborhood. A Tiki themed backyard creates an image of a tropical Polynesian getaway. A Tiki Bar goes especially well with an outdoor pool and any type of tropical plants used in your landscaping. But even if you don’t have those, you can purchase an assortment of key items to transform your backyard into a fun-filled tropical paradise. Here are the essentials that you need:
- Tiki Hut or Tiki Bar
- Bamboo stools or chairs
- Tiki torches
- Tiki idols
- Tiki cups and mugs
- Exotica and Hawaiian music
- Tiki cocktail and food recipes
Tiki Hut or Tiki Bar
The number one key ingredient you need for throwing a Tiki party is of course the Tiki Bar itself. For an authentic look and feeling you’ll want to get a Tiki Bar made from bamboo. All across the tropics, bamboo has been one of the most widespread building materials because it is strong, yet lightweight, grows quickly, and is found in plenty. You can feel good about buying a bamboo Tiki Bar knowing that bamboo is a highly sustainable natural resource. Unlike standard wood, which involves cutting down an entire tree to harvest, a bamboo clump will produce many shoots each year—so harvesting several mature stalks each year doesn’t harm the health of the bamboo plant. Bamboo also has a simple beauty that comes from nature, and since it grows mostly in warm climates, we instantly associate bamboo with the tropics, making it the perfect material for your Tiki Bar. Now let’s look at a few of the best Tiki Bar options.
If money is not an object—and if you have enough space for it—then you’ll definitely want to get the Bamboo Island Tiki Bar. It is far and away the most complete and authentic Tiki style outdoor bar available. This bar set is made from genuine bamboo and features a palm leaf thatch roof for an extra authentic tropical island feel. You can throw a big party, with up to 14 people sitting comfortably in and around the Bamboo Tiki Bar, by way of having 3 guests sitting on each side of the square bar and 2 hosts playing bartender in the center. It contains plenty of shelves and storage space for all the bottles, glasses, and other accessories you’ll need when throwing a party. Be aware that this bar set doesn’t come with the stools included, so you’ll want to order several pairs of the matching bamboo stools as well if you decide to make a splash and get this ultimate Bamboo Tiki Bar. The bar is 6 feet long on each side to give you an idea of how much space it will take up if you want to locate it next to your pool.
If your budget is a little more modest, you should consider getting the Island Tiki Bamboo Bar Set. This bar also features bamboo construction, great for creating an authentic Tiki Bar atmosphere. It’s sold as a complete set that includes a pair of bamboo stools and a pair of Tiki Torches in addition to the bar itself. The countertop is just over 5 feet long, giving you plenty of space to have a group of friends pull up a stool and join you for a Mai Tai. Beneath the counter are two storage shelves on the bartender’s side in order to keep any bottles, glassware, and supplies that you need. A nice added touch is given by the tribal style designs carved into the two bamboo canopy posts.
This bar set is great for a smaller backyard or for setting up right on your patio. Put it next to your pool, and you’ve got a great start to completing your backyard Tiki makeover. Everyone will instantly know where the drinks are at when they see this Island Bar Set waiting for them at your party. If you have serious ambitions to get a Tiki theme going in your backyard, this set will do the trick.
For those on a more limited budget or who want to incorporate existing patio furniture into you Tiki theme, you may consider getting a Hula Thatched Tiki Umbrella. This sturdy patio umbrella is a full 8 feet in diameter to give shade for a number of guests while at the same time providing an effective centerpiece for your Tiki party.
The people who could really benefit from this Tiki umbrella the most are those who already have some patio furniture on hand. You might, for example, have a wood or resin wicker outdoor bar set that could instantly change into a Tiki bar by placing it under a thatched canopy such as this. Or perhaps you have a nice round patio table with an umbrella hole in the center. If that’s the case, you’ll be happy to know that the aluminum umbrella shaft on the Hula Tiki Umbrella fits inside any standard 2-inch hole.
If you’re going to be throwing large gatherings, then you may even consider getting several of these highly-rated thatched umbrellas. You may decide to get one of the bamboo bar sets shown above and one or more thatched umbrellas to give shade to extra seating areas. That would really help to reinforce the grouping of island style decorations much better than ordinary shade umbrellas would.
Bamboo Stools and Chairs
To match with the same theme as the Tiki Bar, you’ll want to also get your hands on some bamboo bar stools and maybe some other types of bamboo seating, depending on the type of set up you desire. As mentioned above, bamboo is lightweight, yet sturdy, and it’s also environmentally friendly to grow and harvest. Your guests will love the novelty factor of sitting on a real bamboo stool at your Tiki Bar. Make sure that you get as many chairs or stools as you think you might need, because you don’t want to leave any of your party guests left standing around without a seat. Here are a few great looking bamboo stools and other seats to consider getting:
For something simple, yet elegant, you can pick the Bamboo Tiki Bar Stool shown here. This is a simple backless stool like the type that you might find in any bar around the world. The key distinguishing factor of course is that this stool is made of natural bamboo.
The variety of bamboo used to make this stool is the Moso variety, which grows extensively in China and Japan. It has been used as a building material for centuries due to its perfect combination of strength and beauty.
The stool is a standard 30 inches in height, and the bamboo has undergone a treatment process to make sure it lasts a long time even when kept outside in the rain, wind, and sunlight.
It’s really hard to go wrong with this highly functional and charming design. So make sure you order enough for everyone at your bar to have a seat.
For something with a slightly different design, you might want to get the Bamboo Stool with Back. This stool shares the same natural beauty of an all bamboo construction with the added bonus of having a backrest attached.
This would be a good choice of a stool for your Tiki Bar if your group of friends are the type to sit for long hours while chatting up a storm. They will probably appreciate the added comfort gained from the backrest, which allows one to lean back in the chair slightly and take some of the weight off the lower back.
Another nice feature of this particular bamboo stool design is extra supported footrest rung near the bottom of the stools legs. There are two parallel bamboo shafts with a number of short support braces connecting them to give extra strength and spread the weight out over a greater area. This will help prevent the footrest from cracking if a heavier guest happens to put all their weight down on the support rung at one time.
When ordering the Bamboo Stool with Back, keep in mind that they are sold in pairs. So get as many sets of two as you think you’ll need. If in doubt about how many pair to get, it’s probably better to estimate up so that you’re not left short-handed without a seat for one of your part guests.
If you feel like mixing up your seating options, then consider getting a few Bamboo Recliner Chairs in addition to bar stools. Recliner chairs such as these are a great way to keep the Tiki theme going while spreading the action around your yard, to not have everyone stuck right at the Tiki Bar.
An excellent idea is to get a pair of bamboo recliners and set them up under the thatched patio umbrella shown above—giving your guest a nice shady spot to slump down and chill out. You could also put a few right next to the pool in the sunlight for those who want to work on their tan while they sip a Singapore Sling.
This model of Bamboo Recliner Chair is adjustable, with 4 different positions for the backrest. It gives you a nice range of sitting postures possible—from nearly upright to slouch heaven.
The reclining bamboo chairs are also sold as sets of two. So you’ll have to think about how many you want to order in terms of pairs of recliners. It’s good to arrange them as pairs in your yard, too, in order to give party guests a chance to chat together and catch up on the latest gossip while chilling in island style.
Finally, if you think you might want to get something to handle spill-over seating, then a Tiki Bamboo Bench might do the trick.
This bench can actually serve a number of valuable purposes at your Tiki party. Besides giving some people a spot to sit down, a bench like this could be used instead as a type of low table. For example, you might want someplace to set up your sound system so that it isn’t sitting directly on the ground. Or maybe if you’re having a Tiki themed birthday party, then you could use the bamboo bench as a table for guests to leave their wrapped birthday presents before the birthday boy or girl gets to open them.
Whatever the case, the Bamboo Tiki Bench is a great way to extend the Tiki theme with extra accessories and furnishings without adding much to your total party budget.
The next essential item on the list of things you need to set up a Tiki Bar in your backyard is a set of Tiki Torches. You’ll want to get probably 6 Tiki Torches at the very minimum. Having a dozen or so gives you much more options in their placement in your yard. Tiki Torches look great when placed in a row or arranged in a circle or semi-circle.
Like the bar and stools, bamboo can be a great material to use in order to get an authentic island feeling. However, there are some other great options available as well, including some environmentally friendly solar powered lamps. Lamps with a natural flame do have one advantage over solar lights, and that is they help keep mosquitoes away. Here is an overview of your basic choices:
To start with, you can think about getting some Classic Bamboo Tiki Torches. They are quite simply an oil lamp placed atop a bamboo pole. Spread them out around the perimeter of your backyard or put them in a line on one side of the pool to brighten up the evening, enhance the South Pacific ambiance, and also keep pesky mosquitoes at bay.
When picking out bamboo torches, make sure to check the length of the bamboo poles. Many people have been disappointed after purchasing 35 inch torches when they discover upon arrival that the torches only come up to their waist. It is generally not a good idea to have open flames so low, especially if you’re going to have children, pets, or anyone who has been drinking alcoholic beverages around. It is a much better idea to get some that are on 5 foot tall poles such as these Classic Bamboo Tiki Torches. Besides keeping the flames up higher where people are less likely to unwittingly bump into them, these torches are also made with a flame-resistant finish on the bamboo poles for added safety. The large, refillable fuel canister will ensure that your lamps keep burning for as long as the party is rocking.
Don’t make the mistake of forgetting to order a plentiful supply of Tiki Torch Fuel
as well. Aside from the obvious purpose of giving the fire a source of fuel to keep burning, Tiki Torch Fuel can also greatly benefit you and your party guests by helping to repel mosquitoes and other annoying insects. Just make sure to buy Citronella Tiki Torch Fuel and you should be all set. The magic ingredient in this fuel is lemongrass oil, which is well-known for being a natural insect repelling substance.
A 50 oz bottle should be enough for filling up 3 Tiki Torches, so make sure to order enough bottles for all the torches you plan to set up in your yard. Also make sure to order the fuel well ahead of time—since it is a highly flammable material, it may not be allowed to be shipped to you by air, making next day delivery impossible in most cases. If ordering through Amazon, there is an option for purchasing the torch fuel as a 6-pack. If you have a lot of torches—like a dozen—then it probably makes sense to stock up by ordering a few 6-packs all at once.
If having natural flame torches appeals to you, but you’d like to invest in something that will have a longer lifespan than bamboo pole torches, you should consider getting a set of Metal Tiki Torches.
One obvious advantage is that the metal poles are more durable than bamboo poles and also easier to fix into the ground. This particular model of metal torch is also well-regarded for the larger sized flame that it is capable of producing. The larger flame will give off more light at night, and if you are using citronella fuel, it should also have the advantage of greater bug repellent action.
A couple other great features of this torch is the well-designed cover and filling mechanism. the cover employs a set of magnets to stay in place, which ensures that a strong wind will not be able to blow the cover off and spread any combustible oil around your yard.
These Metal Tiki Torches are a better value when purchased as a set of four. In order to have enough to place around your backyard or patio and create a pleasant glow to light up your party, you’ll probably want at least 2 sets of four, or possibly more if you have a large space that you’re working with. Again, don’t forget to stock up on lamp fuel as well.
If you don’t want to bother with refilling regular flame torches, then Solar Powered Tiki Lamps might be for you. They have a number of distinct advantages over standard torches which might give you reason for choosing them instead. First of all, with no open flames, there is no possibility of anything accidentally catching on fire or anybody accidentally burning themselves. Secondly, anybody who is very sensitive to smoke or fumes created by flame torches doesn’t need to worry about anything like that with solar lamps. Another bonus is that solar powered lamps will cost less in the long run because you never have to buy any fuel. You also don’t have to deal with any mess from refilling fuel canisters.
On the other hand, the Solar Powered Tiki Lamps don’t have the same mosquito repellant ability that can be realized from using citronella fuel in regular Tiki Torches. It can also be said that the solar generated electrical lights of these Tiki lamps doesn’t really match the wild and primitive atmosphere that the flaming torches invokes.
Still, Solar Powered Tiki Lamps appeal to many people, and if you’re one of those you probably know already how you feel about this style of lamp. This particular model is very highly rated and comes in two different colors, and in sets of four. They have a height of 5 feet, but if you wish you can of course have the lights sitting lower by driving the poles deeper into the ground. For the best effect, you should plan on getting 2 sets of four for a small yard and 3 or 4 sets if you have a larger space to illuminate.
No backyard Tiki Bar set up is really complete without at least one Tiki Idol statue to help set the mood. When your guests catch sight of a wild-faced carved Tiki god, they’ll know that they’re in for a fun-filled evening. There is a very wide range of Tiki Idol statues and hand-carved Tiki Totems available, with something out there for every price range.
If you’ve got a limited budget, you should consider picking out a resin Tiki Idol statue to place near your Tiki Bar or next to the pool. If you look on Amazon, you’ll find a good number of quite attractive Resin Tiki Statues for under $100. Here are a couple examples:
If, however, you’ve got a little bit more money to spend, then an Acacia Wood Tiki Totem shouldn’t be passed up. There are some really excellent quality hand carved Tiki Totems available, any one of which would make a stunning addition to your garden or the area you want to set up to become your Tiki Bar zone. Take a look at these awesome hand-carved Tiki Totems to get an idea of what is available:
Tiki Cups and Mugs
It’s all the little details that really make a tiki Bar come to life, and one thing you don’t want to forget about is getting some fun Tiki cups or tumbler glasses to serve your drinks in. At the higher quality end of the spectrum are Ceramic Tiki Glasses such as the ones shown here. This example is a colorful set of 4 ceramic mugs that each have a unique tribal style fun face.
If you can afford it, go with these ceramic mugs. They have the advantage of helping to keep your chilled drinks cool because ceramic is such a good material for insulating and keeping contents at a constant temperature. They’re also quite beautiful to look at.
Considering that you might want to stock up on a larger number of cups on a budget, but still stick to a fun, colorful theme, there are also Plastic Tiki Cup sets that fit your needs. This particular set includes a total of 12 plastic Tiki cups in an assortment of different colors.
One nice aspect to these Plastic Tiki Tumblers is their size—they each hold a full 24 oz. They’re perfect not only for any type of cocktail, but they’re also great fun for your kids for drinking lemonade, fruit shakes, or virgin cocktails from.
One added extra touch that you don’t want to neglect is the little toothpick sized Cocktail Parasols to put in your drinks. You can pick up a pack of 144 Cocktail Parasols quite cheaply, so there’s really no excuse not to include them in your party preparations as a thoughtful detail to give all your drinks that little bit of extra Tiki goodness.
Exotica and Hawaiian Music
Any real Tiki party won’t be complete without some exotic tunes to keep things moving along. If you don’t know where to start, a good album to pick up is The Sound of Tiki compilation. If features recordings from the likes of Arthur Lymann, Martin Denny, and Les Baxter who were all pioneers of the Exotica sound of 1950s lounge music, which became synonymous with the Tiki clubs that were popping up all around the US at the time. The album that really started it all was Les Baxter’s Ritual of the Savage, which was first released in 1952.
Not long after Les Baxter laid the groundwork for the new musical genre—which featured a mix of tribal rhythms, orchestration, and jungle sounds—Martin Denny came out with the chart-topping album Exotica, which lent its name to this new musical craze. Finally, if you want to put on some tunes that are guaranteed to instantly transport the listener straight to a Hawaiian beach, you could trow on some classic Hawaiian style steel guitar. A good place to start would be Jack de Mello’s Steel Guitar Magic.
Tiki Cocktail and Food Recipes
Now of course, if you’re going to throw a Tiki party you’re going to have to know how to prepare a few classic Tiki drink cocktails. There’s no better place to start than the original recipes of the first two kings of the Tiki scene—Trader Vic and Don the Beachcomber. The most complete Tiki recipe book you’ll find is Trader Vic’s Tiki Party! This book really has it all, with a total of 95 of Trader Vic’s cocktail and after-dinner drink recipes. You’ll find everything from the Original Mai Tai to the Zombie and everything in-between. Want to try a Samoan Fog Cutter, Potted Parrot, Tiki Puka Puka, or Scorpion? They’re all in here!
Trader Vic’s Tiki Party! doesn’t stop there either—they’ve also included the recipes for 35 of their appetizers and pupu platter dishes. You’ll learn how to make Crab Rangoons, Crispy Prawns, Cha Siu Pork, Ahi Tuna Poke, and Key Lime Chiffon Tartlets.
This book does stop at the food and drinks either. It contains loads of insight into the development of Tiki culture and has lots of helpful tips for throwing a Tiki party including ideas for music and decorations.
If that book doesn’t completely satisfy your Tiki drink curiosity, you can also pick up a copy of Don the Beachcomber’s Little Hawaiian Tropical Drink Cookbook. The cocktail recipes in this volume explore 39 of the best drinks from Don the Beachcomber, the original Tiki Bar that started it all.
If you’re a big fan of anything Tiki related, you’ll want to pick up Don the Beachcomber’s Little Hawaiian Tropical Drink Cookbook right away and try out Don’s versions of many classical Tiki drinks such as the Mai Tai and Zombie. It could be fun to have a taste test to compare Trader Vic’s and Don the Beachcomber’s different takes on these classic libations.
Other Odds and Ends
There are a few more small details you can add to your Tiki Bar to really make it more authentic, colorful, and lively. Mostly you can pick out various little items that have some kitsch value—think statues and decorations that you can hang up somewhere. For example, you might want to pick up a little Hula Girl Doll to stick somewhere on the bar counter. There are many different Hula Girl Dolls to choose from. Most are intended to be stuck to the dashboard of your car, but you can stick them anywhere you want, including right on the Tiki Bar. Chose between a Hula girl playing the ukulele or one swaying her arms to the side.
Besides the three dimensional Tiki statues that were listed above, you might also want to get some Tiki Wall Masks to decorate various areas of your Tiki Bar. If you set up your bar in front of a wall or fence, you could place a couple of the masks there in order to add more excitement. You could also hang these masks from a wooden post or a tree in your yard. Other places to set up some Tiki Wall Masks are inside your house in the areas your guests are sure to pass through, such as the hallway leading to the restroom or kitchen. This particular set of 10 Polynesian style Tiki Wall Masks is awesome because they are all hand carved from wood and hand painted. This gives them a much more natural, rustic, and authentic tropical island look and feel compared to something made from plastic with overly bright neon colors.
One last final touch that will make your Tiki Bar complete is a Tiki Bar Sign that you can hang either right from the canopy of the bar itself, or just nearby it. There are a whole bunch of different Tiki Bar Signs available in a range of different colors, styles, and materials such as metal, wood, and even bamboo. A good idea is just to have a look at the different Tiki Bar Sign available on Amazon and pick the one you like best. Or if you are the creative and talented type—you can even make your own.
Have lot’s of fun with your new Tiki Bar. And remember to drink responsibly. Pick somebody to be a designated driver so that everyone can be sure to make it home safe and sound, to enjoy many more Tiki parties in the years to come.