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Say Aloha to Your False Idol, San Diego's New Tiki Bar

Stop inside the Polynesian-inspired paradise

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After more than a year of gestation and much speculation, CH Projects' has laid its offering at the feet of the tiki community by finally launching False Idol this past Sunday. Positioned as a bonafide tiki bar in the truest sense, it was created in partnership with author and rum expert Martin Cate, whose highly-regarded Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco was deemed Best American Cocktail Bar at the year's Tales of the Cocktail.

Now open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily, reservations — made via the bar's website or OpenTable — are highly recommended, as the intimate space is only 1,000-square-feet. Hidden within a walk-in cooler inside Craft & Commerce, which just reopened last week after a year-long hiatus, the tropical wonderland is covered in tiki icons from top to bottom — from a ceiling strung with puffer fish and colorful glass buoy balls to walls and bar surfaces covered with custom masks and carvings of "false idols". Vintage tiki ephemera, from matchbooks to menus, is displayed under glass on the bar top and there's even an entrance grotto complete with a waterfall and a real flaming volcano. The bar's tiki cred is enhanced by the involvement of famed industry craftsmen Bosko Hrnjak (Tiki Objects by Bosko) and Ignacio "Notch" Gonzalez (Top Notch Kustoms).

The 36-count drink menu, a collaboration between Cate and CH Projects Beverage Director Anthony Schmidt, will be served in custom-made tiki mugs. Spanning Polynesian classics to more modern craft interpretations, the $13 to $22 lineup ranges from the iconic Trader Vic’s Mai Tai and Eastern Sour to lost concoctions from long-shuttered tiki hotspots, including the Coronado Luau Special (blended lightly aged rum and black rums combined with brandy, dry curacao, orgeat, lemon and orange) from Hotel Del Coronado's now-defunct Luau Room.

Some of the original cocktails include the Mai Sha Roa Na (blended Jamaican rum, madeira, banana liqueur, vanilla macadamia nut cordial, brightened with fresh lemon) and the Ode to Okolehao (bourbon, vanilla macadamia nut cordial, squeezed-to-order lemon and orange). There are also two $40 shareable cocktails, including the Luau Scorpion bowl for four people and the interactive Alkala the Fierce made with chai-infused-bourbon, aged and dark rum, vanilla, pimento dram and orgeat; ordering the drink will cause smoke and lava to billow from the volcano and the banquette seats to rumble and shake. False Idol will also house a serious rum collection — more than 200 rare and vintage varieties — and plans to launch a special Rum & Cocktail Club for die hard fans of the spirit.

False Idol Menu