When Hollywood’s Don the Beachcomber opened in 1934, it was the country’s first tiki bar. In the midst of The Great Depression, Americans sought solace in the exotic fantasy world of the South Pacific, slurping down Mai Tais and painkillers, falling blissfully into a brain-freeze catatonia.
While the umbrella drink trend has had a number of iterations over the years, it’s recently made a comeback, popping up in major cities like Houston (Lei Low), Chicago (Three Dots and a Dash), and New Orleans (Latitude 29). And then there’s beloved Lowcountry Polynesian-themed bastion, West Ashley’s Voodoo Tiki Bar and Lounge.
But with nary a bamboo-laden bar in sight on the peninsula, Scarecrow & Co.’s owner Jonathan Buckley saw an opportunity.
Buckley tossed around the idea of opening a tiki bar in the old Wise Buck space after it closed, but as we reported in September, his friends talked him out of it. Buckley held fast to his Polynesian dream, though, and Scarecrow & Co.’s The South Seas Tiki Lounge will have its grand opening this Friday starting at 5 p.m.
Scarecrow & Co. beverage director Jeremiah Schenzel says that the front room of the old Wise Buck space has been completely transformed into a tiki bar, and the back room (where tables and booths once were) will eventually be turned into a lounge area. “We have this great outside space and we’re trying to use the gorgeous seating area. People might not want to take a $65 steak outside, but it’s perfect for taking drink outside,” says Schenzel. The drinks to be enjoyed inside the paraphernalia-heavy bar (Buckley boasts quite a collection of tiki mugs) or on the spacious, scenic patio include classic tiki cocktails like Mai Tais, Scorpions, and frozen concoctions. The food menu will be mostly small bites, including Korean BBQ ribs, egg rolls, and coconut shrimp.
“There’s nothing really like it here,” says Schenzel. “In cocktail culture it’s picked up steam, and our owner [Buckley] has had an affinity for tiki for years and years. He’s driven by a desire to do something that he’s really passionate about.”
The South Seas Tiki Lounge will be open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Happy hour will be Thursday and Friday from 5 to 7 p.m.