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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.
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Bracero

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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.

Bali Hai Restaurant

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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!

Fairweather

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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.”

Coin-Op Game Room

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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.

Park & Rec

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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.

Ironside Fish & Oyster

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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.

Juniper & Ivy

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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.

El Dorado Cocktail Lounge

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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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Bracero

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.

Bali Hai Restaurant

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!

Fairweather

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.”

Coin-Op Game Room

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.

Park & Rec

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.

Ironside Fish & Oyster

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.

Juniper & Ivy

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.

El Dorado Cocktail Lounge

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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