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Where to Drink Tiki, From Kettner Exchange's Ryan Walsh & Steven Tuttle

Tropical delights await.

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Kettner Exchange bar managers Ryan Walsh and Steven Tuttle are serious devotees of tiki culture. Their ever-rotating cocktail menu always features a nod to the tropical, from the award-winning Tiki Cross (white rum, Jamaican rum, anejo rum, pineapple, lime, orgeat, falernum, curaçao and black walnut bitters) to the KEX Painkiller, which blends seven rums with pineapple, lime, passionfruit and coconut.

In this special tiki-themed Cocktail Week edition of Where the Bartender's Drink, Walsh and Tuttle share, in their own words, the tiki cocktails that float their boat and where to find them.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Bracero

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1490 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
Bracero is obviously one of the hottest spots in town, and for good reason because this place is fantastic. The food is top-notch and they have two of our favorite bartenders. One of our favorite terms they have adopted at Bracero is “Mez-Tiki”, basically taking a classic tiki drink, altering it with your favorite Mescal or Tequila….and BOOM!!! Mouth explosion. Brian Pregulidad at Bracero makes a knockout called the “Czech Yourself”: Mescal, Becherovka, Absinthe…and the rest is secret tiki. The other ‘Master of Mezcal’ at Bracero is Christian Siglin, who has created a legendary elixir with a housemade “Green Tea Infused White Rum”, housemade Orgeat…the rest is a secret. Noticing a trend here, the place is pretty secretive.

2. Bali Hai Restaurant

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2230 Shelter Island Dr
San Diego, CA 92106
(619) 222-1181
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A San Diego staple. This bar was the epitome of Tiki back in 1954. Times have changed and so has Bali Hai, but the ambience and view cannot be beat. This place is beautiful, the crew is great, and the Mai Tai is the stronger than this San Diego heat wave!

3. Fairweather

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795 J St
San Diego, CA 92101
This place has it all. Perhaps the best rum selection in San Diego, a spectacular view of Petco Park, and one of the best Pina Coladas in town. Pro tip: Go when David is working and have him make you a “Stroh Colada”. If you are feel like having a cocktail yet are struggling with trying to be healthy, get the “Monkey’s Junk.”

4. Coin-Op Game Room

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3926 30th St
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 564-6924
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Leigh Russ is to Tiki as Ron Jeremy is to film. You cannot help but smile as this master builds your next tiki fix with a shake that sounds like steel drums and bad decisions. Ask for a “Hammer and Spike”, it's a great riff on the classic Singapore Sling.

5. Park & Rec

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4612 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92116
They have the bartenders' staple, Stiegler Radler in-house, and Jordan makes a mean beer cocktail mixed with Hamilton’s Gold rum. Great spot for a Tinder date, or just to catch up with old friends.

6. Ironside Fish & Oyster

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1654 India St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 269-3033
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The newest addition to this team is Vanessa, formerly of Craft & Commerce, who is really making waves with the “Montenegro Bay.” It’s two types of rum, absinthe, pineapple and one of our favorite tiki flavors, Falernum. All of this with Amaro Montenegro??? Wowzer!… Delicious and refreshing. Pro tip: Ask for it in the Killer Whale mug.

7. Juniper & Ivy

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2228 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
(858) 481-3666
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Eric Johnson is one of our favorite bartenders in San Diego and his Pineapple Expression, with bananas, pineapple, lime and tequila, is tropical Mexican heaven. Ask him to make a "Goldenwelsh” to follow this treat.

8. El Dorado Cocktail Lounge

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1030 Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 237-0550
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Ryan Kuntz is always creating something fun and sexy in the tiki realm. Our favorite is the “Bikini Bottom,” a twist on the classic Daiquiri using Rhum Agricole, pineapple, lime, and his secret coconut concoction.

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1. Bracero

1490 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
Bracero is obviously one of the hottest spots in town, and for good reason because this place is fantastic. The food is top-notch and they have two of our favorite bartenders. One of our favorite terms they have adopted at Bracero is “Mez-Tiki”, basically taking a classic tiki drink, altering it with your favorite Mescal or Tequila….and BOOM!!! Mouth explosion. Brian Pregulidad at Bracero makes a knockout called the “Czech Yourself”: Mescal, Becherovka, Absinthe…and the rest is secret tiki. The other ‘Master of Mezcal’ at Bracero is Christian Siglin, who has created a legendary elixir with a housemade “Green Tea Infused White Rum”, housemade Orgeat…the rest is a secret. Noticing a trend here, the place is pretty secretive.
1490 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101

2. Bali Hai Restaurant

2230 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106
A San Diego staple. This bar was the epitome of Tiki back in 1954. Times have changed and so has Bali Hai, but the ambience and view cannot be beat. This place is beautiful, the crew is great, and the Mai Tai is the stronger than this San Diego heat wave!
2230 Shelter Island Dr
San Diego, CA 92106

3. Fairweather

795 J St, San Diego, CA 92101
This place has it all. Perhaps the best rum selection in San Diego, a spectacular view of Petco Park, and one of the best Pina Coladas in town. Pro tip: Go when David is working and have him make you a “Stroh Colada”. If you are feel like having a cocktail yet are struggling with trying to be healthy, get the “Monkey’s Junk.”
795 J St
San Diego, CA 92101

4. Coin-Op Game Room

3926 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104
Leigh Russ is to Tiki as Ron Jeremy is to film. You cannot help but smile as this master builds your next tiki fix with a shake that sounds like steel drums and bad decisions. Ask for a “Hammer and Spike”, it's a great riff on the classic Singapore Sling.
3926 30th St
San Diego, CA 92104

5. Park & Rec

4612 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116
They have the bartenders' staple, Stiegler Radler in-house, and Jordan makes a mean beer cocktail mixed with Hamilton’s Gold rum. Great spot for a Tinder date, or just to catch up with old friends.
4612 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92116

6. Ironside Fish & Oyster

1654 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
The newest addition to this team is Vanessa, formerly of Craft & Commerce, who is really making waves with the “Montenegro Bay.” It’s two types of rum, absinthe, pineapple and one of our favorite tiki flavors, Falernum. All of this with Amaro Montenegro??? Wowzer!… Delicious and refreshing. Pro tip: Ask for it in the Killer Whale mug.
1654 India St
San Diego, CA 92101

7. Juniper & Ivy

2228 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
Eric Johnson is one of our favorite bartenders in San Diego and his Pineapple Expression, with bananas, pineapple, lime and tequila, is tropical Mexican heaven. Ask him to make a "Goldenwelsh” to follow this treat.
2228 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101

8. El Dorado Cocktail Lounge

1030 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
Ryan Kuntz is always creating something fun and sexy in the tiki realm. Our favorite is the “Bikini Bottom,” a twist on the classic Daiquiri using Rhum Agricole, pineapple, lime, and his secret coconut concoction.
1030 Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101

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