Devil’s Reef Remains one of the Best Tiki Bars in America

Last year I was scheduled to do a Tiki with Ray Live interview at Devil’s Reef in Tacoma. That event was cancelled when I got COVID, so I made sure to visit on my recent trip. We arrived at opening on a Friday.

The venue remains largely the same as my last visit several years back. This is a dark immersive space, with nautical elements combined with tiki and horror. There’s a large bar along with several large booths and tables in the rear. Dark mood lighting and exotic mood music are in full effect. It is very relaxing inside and you’ll totally forget the rain or whatever is happening outside in downtown Tacoma.

Fun times in Tacoma

The bar program is led by co-owner Jason Alexander, and incredibly leans on just a few Planteray rum expressions for nearly every cocktail. We were considering our order when Jason popped in unexpectedly, as he wasn’t scheduled for that shift. We caught up for a bit and when I asked about the relatively new Ferrand Dry Curacao Yuzu he immediately whipped up an incredible Yuzu Daiquiri that totally blew me away.

After Jason departed we were left in the capable hands of Gamaliel Giron who prepped great cocktails for our party. I thought that the Devil’s Reef’s Officer’s Mai Tai was fine but it didn’t blow me away. This cocktail isn’t beloved by Jason Alexander and I guess they’ve bowed to pressure to include it on the menu, but I give a wide berth considering how fantastic all the original cocktails I’ve had here are. I truly loved the Special Dry Planter’s Punch featuring Jamaica rum, falernum, and grenadine.

We didn’t try the food but we’ve heard good things, and there’s a set of non-alcoholic cocktail options on the menu as well. The Friday crowd was going pretty good by the time that we left around 7:00, so its great to see that one of the best tiki bars in America is still doing everything right. This place is a gem and to paraphrase the old Herb Caen line about Trader Vic’s (“the best restaurant in San Francisco is in Oakland”) we agree that the best tiki bar in Seattle is Devil’s Reef in Tacoma.

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