Sip on tiki cocktails, eat the baby back ribs and check out the infamous shrunken heads collection
Since opening in 2015, Golden Tiki in Chinatown has risen to the top of must-see Vegas destinations. Describing this tiki bar in a few words is a daunting task, as there are so many facets to this unusual hangout, but words such as unique, colorful, vintage and entertaining come to mind. We recently sat down with Beverage Director Adam Rains, a beverage industry icon himself. We learned about the creative cocktail menu, resident poltergeists, quirky collection of artifacts, animatronics and those infamous shrunken heads.
Meet the Grand Poobah, Adam Rains
Adam Rains holds several job titles, with the official being Beverage Director. Other names bestowed upon Rains include Grand Poobah, Tiki Rasputin, Minister of Tiki Tipples and Benefactor of the Art of the Intoxicant. He’s easy to spot, just look for the guy with the braided beard and various hats, which he wears to get into character to entertain his guests.
He has amassed a slew of honors and competition awards. A small sampling of his many accolades include: Regional Finalist in the Goslings Rum Competition held in Bermuda in 2018, First Place for Best Beer Cocktail at the Motley Brews Beer Festival in 2017 and 2019 plus the Nevada Restaurant Association 2019 Culinary Excellence Award for Drink Specialist.
Keep an eye out for the Artifacts and Oddities
The décor is a work in progress and constantly evolves, as Creator Branden Powers scours the land for curiosities and artifacts. Some—like hanging tiki lights, bamboo poles, palm fronds and the ceiling adorned with stars complete with fireworks—are decorative additions to the vintage tiki theme.
Several others are interesting enough to remind one of wandering through a museum. Some of the artifacts and oddities included are a witch doctor’s medicine bag, a human skull, Hunter S. Thompson’s hunting knife, a portion of the ashes of British cult leader Aleister Crowley, a totem from Trader Vic’s Oakland, artwork from Tiki Bosco and Oceanic Arts—which decorated Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room—and risqué paintings depicting Branden Powers and his wife Lisa.
Details on the Disney Connection
Rumors that this place is owned by Disney are erroneous, but there are several connections and definite Disney inspirations. As guests enter they are greeted with the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song and a waterfall. Further inside visitors will find the work of Disney Imagineers, who were hired to create the animatronic dancing hula girls and Al and Bud: two foul-mouthed robot parrots.
Is the Place Haunted?
Rains believes there are four or five spirits inhabiting the premises. The aforementioned artifacts are thought to have brought spiritual energy with them. And Marker Down, the previous bar at this location, was considered a rough place where people were shot and killed. All of it may contribute to ghostly voices and poltergeist shenanigans. Rains and other staff have experienced hearing a chair being dragged, things falling off shelves, cabinets mysteriously found open and a female voice calling them by name. Furthermore, the aforementioned witch-doctor’s medicine bag sent Zak Bagan’s field detectors off the charts when his Travel Channel “Ghost Adventures” crew filmed an episode on-site in 2019.
About Those Shrunken Heads
Part of the charm is the collection of shrunken heads, which are spread throughout the space. Rains relates the bestowing of a head is a tribute to individuals admired by Powers and the Tiki staff. A small sampling of those honored individuals include: Adam Rains, legendary Disney Imagineer Bob Gurr, local food and beverage writer Al Mancini, Siegfried and Roy, Walt Disney, bartending legend Tony Abou-Ganim, UFC legend Randy Couture, Hunter S. Thompson and our own Off The Strip Editorial Director Melinda Sheckells.
Sip on Tiki Cocktails
A large part of the experience is diving into the tiki drinks, some of which are set afire, resulting in extra entertainment value. Artfully garnished, the Golden Tiki serves drinks topped with umbrellas, flowers and plastic monkeys, and drinks may be served in a hollowed-out pineapple (at an additional charge).
A highlight is 3 Dots and a Dash—a citrus-forward Don the Beachcomber original with aged Martinique rum, all spice berry liqueur, velvet falernum, honey and lime and pineapple juice. Another standout is the Mai Tai, which is made with two rums, orgeat, orange curacao and lime juice. Rains asserts it is a nice balance of boozy, sweet and tart.
The drink menu includes custom canned cocktails, draft cocktails made on-site and a monthly one-of-a-kind cocktail in a charity mug. Proceeds from the charity drink benefit a different non-profit organization each month. Look for the dots placed after the drink’s name that indicate how strong it is. This makes it easy for guests to determine how much alcohol they want to consume.
Local Tip: The Golden Tiki also offers a secret menu by request. Don’t forget to ask for one when you visit.
over 200 Spirits in the Collection
As rum is often the spirit of choice for tiki drinks, it’s not surprising that over 200 kinds grace the list, including the locally-distilled Las Vegas Distillery Rum. Other local favorites are whiskeys from Frey Ranch (Fallon, Nevada) and Clemens Tale (North Las Vegas), for which Rains helped formulate the mash bill. Rounding out the spirits menu are several liqueurs, amaros, tequilas, mescals and bacanoras.
Don’t Forget About the Beer
Local breweries represent most of the draft list, but the support for local doesn’t end there. The Tiki routinely contracts with local breweries to create exclusive brews that are exclusive to their venue. Current renditions are the D’s Nuts Coconut Coffee Porter brewed by CraftHaus and Tiki Tangerine Cream Ale by HUDL.
the Food Menu’s Best Sellers
Accompanying the drinks is a small but well-executed menu. Best sellers are Char Sui Baby Back Ribs glazed with hoisin/lime sauce (created by local legendary chef Sheridan Su), Coconut Shrimp, Sriracha Hot Tots and Kalua Pork Sliders.
Happy Hour and Live Entertainment
Golden Tiki is open 24/7. The daily happy hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. offers all drafts for $4, half off on select tiki drinks and appetizers for $4 to $8. DJ’s entertain nightly, and live bands play during happy hour on Fridays and Saturdays, surf bands on Mondays and Big Elvis performs on the first Tuesday of the month.
When entering this establishment, guests should know that it is not kid friendly, but will definitely show adults a good time that will be unequaled to any other place in the city. Know also that this accounting barely touches the surface of all the intricacies of what visitors will find when they visit and they will probably discover more novelties each time they come.
Location: 3939 Spring Mountain Rd., Las Vegas, NV 89102
Phone Number: 702-222-3196
Are you a fan of The Golden Tiki? If so, stop by The Red Dwarf for a quirky cocktail.