VenTiki Lounge and Lanai
701 E. Main St., Ventura
Life is circular. What was once fashionable becomes unfashionable and vice versa. Take the tiki culture. Tiki bars came into favor in the 1960s, then simply became kitschy over time — relegated to Brady Bunch episodes and cheesy attractions at Disneyland. But now there is a resurgence and tiki culture is once again on the rise. Celebrating its five-year anniversary, this July VenTiki is the only tiki bar in Ventura and it is awash in cocktails, flowered shirts and island food.
For starters, you can’t miss the A-framed thatched roof as you enter the front patio. To your left is a small fire pit, and hibiscus flowers and green vines are everywhere. It claims to be an “island oasis,” and frankly, that’s not too far off the mark. Being located just outside of downtown, it sees more locals than tourists, and pets on the outdoor patio are OK since tiki is no respecter of persons.
“We honor the classic tiki drinks, along with their stories, and some of these stories go back hundreds of years,” says manager Todd Sellers.
It offers classic tiki-oriented cocktails, but modern interpretations as well. If you buy the high-end mai tai, aptly and unceremoniously called The $25 Mai Tai, it’s all top-shelf booze and, along with the ceramic tiki mug you get to keep, someone will blow the conch horn and sound the siren box and will either embarrass you or make you feel like a tiki god, depending on your perspective. Otherwise get the classic mai tai. The aroma of the mint draws you in to a mildly sweet and smooth concoction balanced with citrus notes, a hint of acidity, a richness on the mid-palate with enough rum to give you a buzz, but with the mature dark rum standing out. It’s cool and refreshing. Have this with the diver scallops, kalua pulled-pork sliders, or tuna sashimi with ponzu, suggests Sellers.
VenTiki Mai Tai
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. Platino light rum
1 oz. Platino gold rum
1 oz. Whaler’s dark rum
½ oz. simple syrup
½ oz. Orgeat
½ oz. Orange Curaçao
Add all ingredients except for dark rum in shaker, shake for 10 seconds, pour into glass over ice. Add dark rum floater. Garnish with fresh mint spring.