The Cuban influence is definitely visible in America, especially when it comes to the bar scene. Since the ’50s, different Tiki Bars and Cuban-themed dives have popped up on both sides of the United States. The ’50s and ’60s saw a massive spike in rum-themed bars across the country. This was a trend that seemed to die out in the ’70s and ’80s. However, there would be a comeback. The juice craze of the late ’90s and into the new millennium saw a resurgence of these types of bars all across America. This trend still continues today. We decided to pay homage to this Caribbean craze by bringing you a new list. Read on for the top 15 best rum bars America has to offer.
1159 Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles is actually the place where the tiki drink was invented. For a while, Los Angeles lacked a formidable tiki bar presence. This all changed with La Descarga. This new rum bar opened about two years ago and paid a fantastic tribute to Cuba. There are more than 70 different types of rum on the menu here, many of which predate the actual tiki era of the ’50s. This Los Angeles favorite gets busy, so you’ll want to make sure to get a reservation if you want a table.
714 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015
This rum bar is a private membership establishment only. The membership fees here won’t break the bank, though. For a slim $20 per year, you get into the bar’s monthly rum tastings. Cana has the largest rum selection in Los Angeles, with over 140 different brands on the menu. This place has the Cuban theme down to a science. The classic rum and coconut water are served up in a baby coconut. Then there’s the Shaky Alibi (Plantation Panama Vintage Rum, house-made Boont Amber Ale Curaçao, Imbue Vermouth, Gentiane-Orange Bitters), which uses fresh ingredients and their house-made syrups.
4427 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90027
This Los Angeles classic was a tiki bar scene original. Founded in 1961, this rum dive hasn’t changed much since its opening. Original owner Ray Buhen’s son and grandson are the only bartenders in the establishment. How’s that for a family environment? This restaurant serves over 80 drinks for its guests. The classic, slower tiki feel is an excellent contrast to the newer, more hip Cuban-themed restaurants in the Los Angeles area.
218 S. Broadway, Denver, CO 80209
Believe it or not, this is Denver’s first complete craft tiki bar. This place is an excellent throwback to the original tiki bars in Havana, Cuba. The glossed-over walls and the bamboo decorations really make you feel like you’re planted in the Caribbean. This Denver favorite has over 40 different rums available. Their food items are fantastic as well. Everything is made with only the best local and fresh ingredients.
720 SE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR 97214
This Portland bar is only a year old, but don’t let the age fool you. The owners of this bar really know what they’re doing. Rum Club is brought to you by the same owners who brought Portland Beaker and Flask, another popular favorite. The owners decided not to dive in headfirst when it came to the whole rum theme. Although it doesn’t look like the traditional tiki bar, the Rum Club has no shortage of rum bottles and drinks on the menu.
1712 W Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89102
As described on their website, “Frankie’s Tiki Room is a unique combination of south Sea’s exotica and modern primitivism, with just a hint of Las Vegas kitsch. A place where you can escape to the fantasy 24/7.” This describes this over-the-top rum bar perfectly. Frankie’s was designed by Bamboo Ben. Bamboo Ben is undoubtedly the world’s most famous and foremost designer of all things tiki. This place was actually one of the first tiki bars to come out of Vegas for decades after the ’60s boom. Their homemade syrups and fresh juices put their rum menu over the top.
2733 NE Broadway, Portland, OR 97232
Hale Pele, or otherwise known as “The House of the Volcano Goddess,” is Portland’s reimagined tiki bar. Their island-inspired small-plates are a standout here. It’s hard to decide if the food menu or the drink menu is better. There are over 20 tropical drinks here, ranging from Mai Tai’s to Zombies. Overall, Hale Pele boasts a fantastic display of over 100 different types of rum bottles to choose from. Everything here is made with fresh local juices and homemade syrups.
31 E 14th St., Kansas City, MO 64106
Kill Devil Club is brought to you by Ryan Maybee. Maybee is no stranger to bars and restaurants, having opened other Kansas City favorites like Manifesto, The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange. What makes the Kill Devil Club so unique is its blend of true Kansas City heritage and tiki bar tradition. Maybee found a way to ideally incorporate Kansas City’s jazz heritage while keeping the Caribbean theme in the forefront as well. The jazz goes well with the strong rum drinks and punches. Who knew jazz and island could go so well together?
1112 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101
This Caribbean-themed bar located near Pikes Place Market takes its rum collection very seriously. With the biggest in Seattle, Rumba has over 100 different types of rum bottles behind the bar. The 1950s decor matches Havana perfectly. There are even games of dominoes available at each table for patrons of the bar. Their drinks fit well into their categories. With names like “Old Havana,” “Island Drink,” and “Punch,” how could they go wrong?
355 11th St., San Francisco, CA 94103
This self-described “field-to-spirit” bar brings ingredients fresh from the field to the bar. The owners Thad Vogler and Eric Johnson, use only the highest-quality local ingredients in all their cocktails here. This bar is absolutely a rum-centered establishment, but don’t let that fool you. They have an awe-inspiring gin selection as well.
650 Gough St, San Francisco, CA 94102
This is one of the best rum bars America has to offer. Smuggler’s Cove is arguably the best tiki bar in the country. It definitely is one of the oldest. With a theme that would suit any pirate, Smuggler’s Cove comes complete with a waterfall and a wooden plank. This place is tiny and has kept accurate to its intimate feel over the years. Smugglers can only house about 50 people at a time, so getting in can be a chore. Their strong selection of rum drinks draws its inspiration from the early 1900s Caribbean traditions and newer American tiki bars.
1304 Lincoln Ave., Alameda, CA 94501
Martin Cate, the owner of Smuggler’s Cove, previously had part ownership in this bar. Although he relinquished his share a few years ago, the lore of this bar still lives on. The bamboo walls and spears embrace the typical tiki bar theme. Just like Smuggler’s Cove, Forbidden Island also comes with a waterfall. You won’t find any commercial mixers at Forbidden Island. All the drinks are made with fresh and local ingredients.