What: Two tiki bars and two boroughs, on opposite sides of the Williamsburg Bridge
Where: Surf Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Mother of Pearl in the East Village, Manhattan
Who: Friends who didn’t have the funds for a trip to the Caribbean
Why: Think about your current situation and ask yourself this — Would I rather be at a beach? Perhaps in Hawaii or the Caribbean with a nice cool drink and the breeze gently hitting your face? I thought so. Unfortunately for most of us, we can’t hop on our private jets and fly to a tropical island, but you can go to a tiki bar and (kind of) get the same experience! Since I was unable to find money in my savings account for a quick trip to the islands this summer, I decided to seek out a little solace in the city at two tiki bars — an old school establishment and a new school place — to find out who had the better tropical drink.
We started our bar journey on one of those uncomfortably warm summer evenings, the kind when it’s 10 p.m. and still 85 degrees out. Instead of hitting up a sweaty bar, we thought we’d cool down with a nice tropical drink at an old school tiki bar instead. Brooklyn Surf Bar is located right off the Bedford L stop and is a beach oasis. The entire ground is covered in sand and the walls are decorated with surfboards, Hawaiian post cards and Christmas lights. While the décor is a bit discombobulated and random, it works. We got a seat on the outside patio and promptly ordered our drinks and appetizers, ready for our tropical escape. The drinks were colorful, creative, and came with those awesome little umbrellas. That pretty much completed the experience for me.
Drinks: $8-$10 per drink. I can’t really remember because you know, alcohol.
Food: The calamari was fantastic! And enough to share among three people.
Wait time: None
Tropical factor: Definitely worth the trip! I’d give it a 9/10 only because the drinks weren’t pretty, but they were SO good and very inexpensive.
The sand on the ground really brought me so much joy. I’m not really sure what else to say besides if you have the time, go here, it’s so fun and two drinks is really all you need to get your night started.
Mother of Pearl in the East Village
I dragged the same two friends to Mother of Pearl for some pre-dinner drinks on a Sunday night. The restaurant is hard to miss. It has that “Look at me, I’m new” shine that most east village places do not posses. You can take the L to First Avenue, the F to Second Avenue or the 6 to Astor place and then walk to Avenue A and 6th. For a new spot, I was surprised at the lack of wait time. We were seated immediately and began to pour over the extensive drink menu.
Thanks to some handy yelp reviews, I knew I wanted the shark drink. My friends, on the other hand, were not so sure and began to question the waiter for recommendations. (Side note: I always do this and usually waiters and bartenders alike are happy to give suggestions and help you find just the right thing. This man, however, was not pleased). While his attitude put a bad taste in our mouth, we were extremely pleased when our drinks came and proceeded to take pictures of them for the next 5 minutes.
I mean, look at my shark drink. It’s so cool.
Wait time: None
Tropical factor: 8/10. The décor was AMAZING. It had a very classy, Ritz Carlton feeling. In fact, there were a few lamps that would look amazing in my apartment. The drinks looked incredible, were very strong and so refreshing in taste; it made for a great instagram shot. However, the amtosphere was a little uptight for my liking.
And the winner of the Tiki Bar battle is…
Overall both bars are incredible and each their own little oasis in the city. But if you’re pinching pennies, head to the Surf Bar. Brooklyn, WHAT’S GOOD?