Visit: 5 Oct 2022

Four in a row. The Splash-Down’s erstwhile proprietor was at it again. First in line for the Tiki-Ti. I got there about 3:05 on a Wednesday and was there for about 20 minutes or so until a few regulars starting showing up at 3:30pm joined by a few other first timers. I was rewarded with being first in the door but there were already about 4 ‘friends of the bar’ holding court so I grabbed a seat at the far end of the bar and was joined by a regular next to me. This proved useful as the Wednesday’s opening hours see a Ray’s Mistake on happy hour for $9. If that’s good enough for a regular it was good enough for me! Next up I sampled a ‘Tiki Ti Special’ but by this time I had noticed folks paying with cards. Wait a minute I thought this place was cash only?? I’d actually specifically visited the FX shop to get some US dollars with this place in mind! So with credit open to me I added a lamp mug, t-shirt and bar mat to my order! The place was absolutely packed and I got chatting to a few other patrons from Australia (Brisbane in this case) as well as a tiki fan from Kansas City (Mo.). I nursed the special for a while and then ordered my final drink where I decided to see their painkiller. It was nice - but seemed totally different to the version I make at home. My favourite was probably the Special but Ray’s Mistake was a super refreshing drink to start with. By this time I was ready for an explore so I gave up my seats to my compatriots (David was also shipping out) and went for an explore of all the nooks in this petite bar. From a decor perspective I LOVED their lamps. The bar itself was great with all the thatch and the place was filled with all sorts of interesting items. After leaving I was able to have a good chat with the Tiki Ti’s proprietor Mike while I waited for my Uber (he was having a break outside as well). It was a wonderful initiation into a Tiki institution. I am very glad to have visited and would again highly recommend having this on your itinerary- but who am I kidding. It’s the freakin’ Tiki Ti of course it’s on your itinerary!!

Tiki Bar:

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Tiki-Ti Bar – Los Angeles, California, United States

This famous little bar is a Los Angeles institution and was opened on April 28th, 1961 by Ray Buhen. It is now owned and operated by Ray's son Mike Buhen and grandson Mike Buhen, Jr.

The Tiki-Ti drink menu has over 80 drinks, but picking one can feel a little bit like picking a race horse. The menu is divided into sections for the base alcohols, but beyond that, it's just a list of colorful names. These recipes are closely guarded family secrets. There are plenty of classic cocktails on the menu, but many of the drinks are the creation of Ray or his son or grandson. One of Ray's creations, Blood & Sand, is named for the Tyrone Power bullfighting film by the same name, and as it is being mixed the bar's patrons call out "Toro, Toro!" Mike or Mike will happily take the time to ask you a few questions and guide you to a drink you're sure to like.

On Wednesdays, a tribute is made to Ray -- a bell is rung five times, and the whole bar stops what they're doing to toast to Ray.

For decades, Tiki-Ti was owner-operated, with no employees, making it one of the very few places in California that could allow smoking. In June 2015, the Buhens hired their very first employee, longtime regular Greg Bansuelo, to help behind the bar. Smoking is no longer permitted at Tiki-Ti.

The Buhens close the bar when they go on vacation; be sure to check the Tiki-Ti website's calendar to make sure they are open before you stop by. Tiki-Ti is extremely small (just 12 barstools and a small handful of tables), and is incredibly popular so if you don't like crowds, be sure to get there right as it opens, preferably on a Wednesday. Be sure to bring plenty cash as they don't accept credit cards. There is an ATM in the back, but it charges a hefty fee and is sometimes hard to reach when the place is packed.

In 2021, during the downtime from the Covid closure, the front of the interior bar was given a facelift by Anders Anderson (A-Frame) with bamboo fronting and diamond-shaped panels decorated with tapa cloth and carved tiki masks. Anders previously had donated a traditional swag lamp or two as well.

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Date Created
14 Sep 2023
Date Updated
14 Sep 2023
The Splash-Down
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