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A Taste of the Tropics: Tropical Cocktails in Calgary

From tiki to tropical we’ve rounded up some fun tropical cocktails that will transform any day into a beach day. Whether you grab a coveted patio spot or not, you’ll be saying “aloha” to paradise.

Lava Bowl at Proof
Lava Bowl
Don’t be fooled: the bartenders over at Proof Cocktail Lounge may sling classic cocktails every night (including a most excellent bourbon sour), but they still know how to let their hair down and have some fun. Sunday nights are official tiki nights, with a special tiki menu loaded with drink and food specials that will instantly whisk you away south. ”Tiki is about indulgence,” bar manager Jeff Savage says. “At the end of the day, we’re just a group making drinks and [tiki night] allows us to really have some fun.” If you’re with a group, order up the Rum Bowl for Two that consists of several varieties of rum and fresh juices served in a campy tiki “lava bowl.” The Trader Vic’s Mai Tai, a tiki staple since 1944, is made here with premium aged rum, fresh lime, Creole Shrubb liqueur, orgeat syrup — an almond flavoured staple of tiki drinks — and a delicious passion fruit mousse on top, shaded from the sun with a joyful paper umbrella.

Pineapple Splash

Pineapple Splash
A nationwide cocktail competition between bartenders at various locations of The Keg resulted in their signature summer drink — The Pineapple Splash. Made with rum, brown sugar, lime juice, ginger beer, and muddled fresh pineapple and mint, it’s crisp and refreshing. It’s the perfect drink for when you need something a little more strong than sweet, but still want that hint of a tropical taste.

Bam Bam Dilla

Bam Bam Dilla
Sure, you may be transported to Mexico when eating the tacos at Native Tongues Taqueria, but why not make a trip down south to the South Pacific too? Order up the Bam Bam Dilla in a tiki mug, made with rum, banana liqueur, sweet orgeat syrup, pineapple, and walnut for a sweet and frothy drink with slight nutty notes. Perched on top of the drink is a lime and sugar cube that is lit on fire. The El Marinero cocktail (also served in a fun tiki mug) consists of two varities of rum, fresh mango purée, falernum — a sweet syrup commonly used in tropical drinks, and a refreshing jolt of lime.

Tiki Bomb

Tiki Bomb
Ricardo’s Hideaway is a brand new rum bar with a distinct Caribbean theme in everything from the food and drinks to the décor and music. The bar is stocked with dozens of varieties of rum to mix in fun cocktail creations, including the flaming and tropical Tiki Bomb made with Cruzan black strap rum, Bacardi 151 rum, mezcal, falernum, coconut, lime, and angostura bitters. The menu is packed with Latin food including savoury empanadas, roti, and fried plantains.

Banana Colada Slurpee

Banana Colada Slurpee
Perch yourself on the patios at any of the National locations — the 8th and 10th Avenue locations have glorious rooftop patios — and work on your summer tan as you slurp down this fun drink. Rum, banana liqueur, and coconut purée are all blended together and served in a bright plastic cup that will have you convinced you’re lounging by the pool at a tropical resort.

Voodoo Soup

VooDoo Soup
Bourbon Room is a secret spot located on the top floor of National on 10th Avenue (tip: they have a separate entrance in the alleyway). They are known for their wide selection of bourbons, however they also have a selection of delicious cocktails including this fabulous punch bowl. Bring a group of friends (the bowls come in sizes for 4-6 people or 8-10 people) and enjoy this concoction of spiced rum, mescal, an assortment of fresh fruit juices, maraschino cherries, grenadine, and orange flower water. The result is a refreshing tiki punch adorned with slices of fresh citrus fruit and cherries. It tastes as good as it looks, and it’s a great option to kick off an evening of summer fun.

Blue Hawaiian

Blue Hawaiian
Wedged in an alleyway in a repurposed shipping container is Container Bar, one of Calgary’s funkiest spots to grab a couple of drinks. The cocktail list features old school drinks from decades past including an Alabama Slammer and the very tropical Blue Hawaiian. With rum, coconut, pineapple, and lemon lime, the taste of the cocktail will whisk you away to the tropics, while the hallmark splash of Blue Curaçao gives it a summery aquamarine hue. For an extra beach-y drink, we recommend ordering from their “bucket list,” and get a cocktail served in a miniature sand pail.

Secret Barrel Rum

Secret Barrel Rum
There may not be a palm tree in sight in Calgary, but the local makers behind Secret Barrel Rum have channeled a distinctly tropical feel in their small-batch, craft white rum. This smooth liquor has a sophisticated flavor with hints of vanilla and caramel. Try it in a drink at 80th and Ivy, The Beltliner, The Derrick Gin Mill, or Proof, or pick up a bottle at Vine Arts Wine & Spirits.

Jungle Bird

The Jungle Bird
Masterfully crafted cocktails are the focal point at Cannibale, a hip Bridgeland bar (and barber shop!) and the tiki drinks are no exception. The Jungle Bird is a thoughtfully curated cocktail made up of a robust Cruzan black strap rum, pineapple, lime, and Campari, adorned with a chunk of pineapple and a tangy cherry. It’s perfect for those who want a tiki drink with a little more finesse, as it’s not too sweet and a little more on the earthy side.

Tiki Horse

Tiki Horse
Klein/Harris is a sleek Stephen Avenue eatery with plush couches and chairs that encourages its patrons to lounge and enjoy a drink. For this refined cocktail, Alberta Dark Horse whiskey is swirled around with ginger beer, plum and rootbeer bitters, housemade falernum tiki syrup, peach juice, and citric acid that create a drink with both a sweet and spicy taste with a sunset-orange hue.

By Janet Davie and Breanna Mroczek
Illustrations by Ekszod

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