The Sinking Ship Room is Bakersfield’s Amazing Basement Tiki Bar

Mrs Mai Tai and I were excited to visit The Sinking Ship Room again, the basement sister venue from the folks behind Tiki-Ko. Access is through a separate door on the street and you cannot pass from bar to bar without going outside. The hours currently are more limited for The Sinking Ship, which is a larger and more elaborately themed space than Tiki-Ko upstairs.

After our visit to Tiki-Ko earlier, we arrived at The Sinking Ship right at opening at 7 pm on a Saturday and quickly got our drinks. I ordered the standard-issue Mai Tai that was really great with a blend of Jamaican and Martinique rums and some pleasant nutty flavors from the orgeat. The mood music was in full effect and allowed us to admire all the nick nacks, tikis, and nautical decor inside. There’s a mix of tables and lounge tables, with a large booth available by reservation.

Mai Tai with Rhum J.M Terrior Volcanique

I was feeling like I wanted to try another cocktail and scanned the shelves to see if there was an interesting rum to have in a Mai Tai. I spotted a bottle of Rhum J.M Terrior Volcanique and thought this aged agricole rhum might do well. Terrior Volcanique is aged in barrels with a double char process that results in a smoky and spicy rum. I haven’t loved this rhum neat in a glass but it was absolutely fantastic in a Mai Tai even at only 43% ABV. Like really, really amazing. Easily the best so far this year and a lock for placement on the year-end Top 10 list.

The Sinking Ship Room is an amazing space that every tikiphile needs to support and visit. The outstanding and immersive decor pairs so well with the Tiki-Ko crew’s unpretentious and friendly service orientation.

Bakersfield’s Tiki-Ko Remains a Stellar Destination

On our way home from SoCal we decided to stop in Bakersfield for the evening and landed at Tiki-Ko for a round of cocktails before heading downstairs to the adjacent Sinking Ship Room bar and then to dinner. We arrived at around 6:00 pm and sat in a booth on the far end of the room. We’ve enjoyed Tiki-Ko in the past, and the welcoming vibe was in full effect when bartender Jorge recognized and welcomed us by name.

I decided to try something new here and went with a Lapu Lapu, a juicy tropical cocktail that provided a stealthy punch. I liked this and it seems to have been made with the right specs. The bar got busier and busier as our visit went on, so its nice to see Tiki-Ko pulling in locals and travelers alike. Music inside is wonderful and we like the U-shaped bar layout and the lounge tables near the entrance.

Tiki-Ko has more regular hours than The Sinking Ship downstairs, and both largely share the same cocktail menu, so either way you’re in for a fine time. In the past we’ve had a great Mai Tais and always enjoy the Mary Ann cocktail. There are some good restaurant options nearby if you wanting to make an evening out of it, like we did. Tiki-Ko remains a stellar tiki bar and ought to be considered a regional treasure.

Next: The Sinking Ship Room is Bakersfield’s Amazing Basement Tiki Bar

Tiki-Ko and the Sinking Ship Room

One of the nice perks of the Central California Tiki marketplace was the location in the parking lot across the street from Tiki-Ko and the Sinking Ship Room. Two world-class tiki bars across the street from the marketplace, opening at 1 pm on a Saturday! Staff was just as friendly as in our past visits, a strength of the establishment.

Tiki-Ko is a smaller space with a large U-shaped bar and some booth and lounge seating on each side. Very much a traditional tiki bar, with exotica playing and featuring colorful lighting. This set-up lends itself to some interaction with the bartenders, depending on how busy it is, of course. Mrs. Mai Tai enjoyed the Mary Ann cocktail (similar to a Tradewinds) and a delicious El Duderino with coffee liqueur and coconut cream. I had a pretty good Mai Tai but didn’t love the Navy Grog.

After an early dinner, we went back and hung out in the Sinking Ship Room, catching the last bit of the set from Par Avion. This space has a low ceiling and is elaborately decorated like the hull of a ship. Though there are a few stools by the bar, this space is really more of a lounge setup. You order at the bar and then the drinks are brought to your table. Music here is vintage 1920s, giving this a very different feel from Tiki-Ko upstairs. We both truly enjoyed the frozen Grasshopper (topped with a thin mint) and Mrs. Mai Tai liked the frozen Monkey’s Gone to Heaven cocktail featuring banana. I tried the Three Dots & a Dash which as very forward with a very grassy Agricole – not my favorite. I did enjoy the NA Saturn made with an alcohol-free Gin.

Though these two bars share essentially the same cocktail menu and staff, they’re really two different spaces (you have to exit the building to go to the other) and have different hours. Either one is amazing though, making Bakersfield a destination location for any tikiphile.

Central California Tiki Marketplace in Bakersfield

Fab day in Bakersfield for the @centralcaliforniatiki marketplace. A very large and varied set of vendors and plenty of space to shop. There wasn’t much rain, thankfully.

Central California Tiki’s head honcho, Wayne Stonecipher

I picked up a bar mat from @artofbrex and a carving from @mischiefmotu. I also picked up a vintage 2005 @theartistshag calendar still sealed! I’m going to crack that open and explore.

Thank you Wayne and all the Central California Tiki event planners for such a great event. Do it again in the fall!

With Tiki-Ko and The Sinking Ship across the street needless to say a good time was had by all.

Cocktails at The Sinking Ship

We’d had great experiences with the cocktails at Tiki-Ko in the past, so had high expectations for the ones at their newish downstairs sister-bar, The Sinking Ship. The cocktails were great, and the attention to detail from bartenders @bell_uh_sorry_hoe, @_spongibob, and another bartender who’s name I didn’t catch was outstanding.

My Mai Tai was totally “out of this world,” using Denizen Merchant’s Reserve for the rum. I followed up with a Navy Grog that was nearly as good, and I appreciated the additional honey upon request.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Mai Tai started with the “Mary Ann” cocktail, which is Tiki Ko’s version of the Tradewinds. I’ve had this before and it’s still really great. She followed it up with the top-notch El Duderino, with rum, vodka, coffee liqueur, and coconut cream.

We wanted to stay longer but were driving so we did two “virgin sacrifices,” Julie liked The Chai-Lite, with a non-alcoholic cane spirit and chai tea concentrate. While I had the tart but still tasty Peachy Keene featuring peach nectar. Both of these were quite wonderful.

Virgin Sacrifices

As far as I can tell the cocktail program at The Sinking Ship is the same as upstairs at Tiki-Ko, which in my mind is sort of a bummer but not really an issue. With 18 cocktails including some made for tiki newbies (Pina Colada and Blue Hawaii) but also some for savvy craft cocktail fans (Three Dots and a Dash, 151 Swizzle), there’s enough choice but doesn’t lead to analysis paralysis. I only wish they’d have a few more original recipes to try, but there ain’t nothing wrong with what’s being offered. The back bar offers some additional spirts choices, but a vast rum collection isn’t really a focus. There are some beer choices and a monthly rotation of slushy cocktails, so there’s something for everyone.

With fabulous decor, great music, impressive service and also some great cocktails, The Sinking Ship ranks amongst the best tiki bars I’ve visited. Totally worth making a trip to Bakersfield to check it out – along with Tiki-Ko upstairs of course. We’ve heard the nearby Padre Hotel is a good option that’s walking distance away. Be sure to check current hours before visiting, as there are some days where either Tiki-Ko or The Sinking Ship are open. Or go on a weekend when both are open.

The Sinking Ship at Tiki-Ko

We finally made it down to Bakersfield to see the basement addition/expansion/sister bar to longtime local heroes at Tiki-Ko.

The Sinking Ship features an immersive nautical and trader design with different sections and booths. Really amazing work from @tikidiablo and @_spongibob. The ceiling is a map and there are so many elements to look at, including masks, crates, nautical equipment, and displays of artifacts.

A notable element is how you order drinks at the bar, complete with a roped off line, though there a few seats at the bar, too. The chairs feel like vintage pieces even though we know they’re new. The music was top notch, including exotica, surf, and Hawaiian. It all feels organic and well-put together, without feeling like it is a movie set.

The entrance is just a couple doors down from Tiki-Ko and leads you down a staircase with inspired decor. So while the staff and menu are the same, this truly is a separate space.

We’ll discuss the drinks in tomorrow’s post, but suffice to say that The Sinking Ship is one of the finest spaces in any tiki bar anywhere.

Coconut Joe’s

A Bakersfield institution for decades, we stopped by here for dinner after arriving in town. Definitely a beach bar and not a tiki bar, despite the large number of tikis (sourced from Oceanic Arts, we’ve been told). More of a Jimmy Buffet place (including his songs playing).

As a family restaurant this place was pretty good. I enjoyed my lobster/crab roll and battered shrimp. Booze is beer and canned cocktails/seltzers.

The impressive outrigger is a focal piece at the rear of the restaurant.