The Best Mai Tais and Tiki Bars in Las Vegas

We’ve added a new feature page to covering the top Mai Tais and Tiki Bars in Las Vegas.

What’s the best Mai Tai in Las Vegas? Is it Jammyland, the craft cocktail bar with a reggae twist? Or is it Stray Pirate, the new bar with a theme of pirate dogs? Or is it Starboard Tack, the off-strip restaurant with a retro vibe? Perhaps there’s a wild-card entry from a bar with a potentially short lifespan.

On the Tiki Bar side, the best option might not technically be a tiki bar to begin with, and the true tiki bars all have pros and cons. So the “best” might depend on what you value most, such as decor, cocktails, or service. We have our Ultimate Mai Tai Tiki Bar rating system in place plus narratives for each location to help you decide.

Top Mai Tais and Tiki Bars in Las Vegas

Trader Vic’s Las Vegas

It is always sad passing by Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Cantina at the Miracle Mile shops at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino because for a short time this was a Trader Vic’s franchise location. The lifespan ran from Fall 2007 to summer 2009, making this one of the shortest lived Vic’s locations. Patrons noted an emphasis on vodka drinks, though we stuck to the classics such as the Mai Tai (made with the Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Concentrate mix) that were wonderful. That’s us on two visits in 2008.

The vast space was sparsely decorated, perhaps as an intentional choice to go for a modern look or perhaps due to a limited decor budget. It definitely didn’t have the same vibe as most of the Trader Vic’s locations I’ve visited, but you could get a Mai Tai to go in a plastic cup thanks to Vegas’ liberal open container laws. Traditionalists griped about the food menu but it got a great review in the Las Vegas Review-Journal in early 2008.

The venture was not successful, due in part to the great recession that started in parallel with the restaurant’s opening. After closing, the restaurant’s parent company Boulevard Bar LLC filed for bankruptcy listing no assets – and liabilities of $14.267 million! The restaurant generated revenue of $1.368 million in 2007, $5.961 million in 2008, and $2.033 million in 2009 according to those filings.

Today’s burgeoning tiki scene in Vegas shows that the most successful ventures of this type are immersive experiential venues such as The Golden Tiki or Frankie’s Tiki Room. But fifteen years ago it is easy to understand the design decisions made to go with a modern design. I guess this shows that the escapist nature of these spaces is timeless and that today there is a lot more interest in exotic cocktails and tiki bars in general.

Las Vegas is always a gamble and sometimes you don’t win.

Our Favorite Las Vegas Tiki Bar is Red Dwarf

There are few hangover cures that are better in Las Vegas than lunch or brunch at Red Dwarf, the dive leaning tiki bar that serves Detroit-style Pizza. Our mid-day experience was stellar once again. The daytime vibe is chill and friendly, a mix of regulars and tiki tourists like us, with bartenders happy to work with you on drink and food orders. Eclectic media is shown on the TVs – 1922’s horror classic Nosferatu was showing this time.

Mai Tai

The Detroit pizza is fabulous, with a sauce that isn’t too spicy and a crust that’s light and airy. There are several different options or you can call your ingredients.

The cocktail game at Red Dwarf is far better than you’d expect from a bar with a large selection of beer and an obvious focus on it (most of the locals were drinking beer). The standard Mai Tai is a blend of four rums and is fairly light in character; it isn’t the best Mai Tai in Vegas but at only $10 might be the best value. There are number of rums that are available and they can use them in a Mai Tai to elevate the cocktail if that’s your thing.

Meanwhile, I was totally blown away by the Pound Town cocktail that features Clarin Communal Haitian rum, Clement Blanc rhum from Martinique, falernum, lemon, coconut, orange bitters, and soda. This was a truly outstanding cocktail that combined the two sugar cane juice-based spirits and a light leaning blend of balanced supporting ingredients. It’s delicious.

Pound Town cocktail

We met Red Dwarf’s owner Russell Gardner and were happy to share our enthusiasm for the venue. pizza, and cocktails. He emphasized they do use fresh juices in the cocktails and they are adding seasonal menu items as well. Even though most of the cocktails are only $10, we think the drinks here are the most consistent and overall the highest quality of any tiki bar in Vegas.

Las Vegas’ Lost Spirits Distillery Continues to Impress

When you order tickets to the Lost Spirits Distillery experience they encourage you to arrive sober saying “for most people, pre-gaming is a bad idea and thus discouraged.” After visiting three bars we decided to embrace all that Vegas offers regardless of the consequences and bought tickets anyway.

The combination of rum tasting and intimate modern cirque performances is so unique, with a maze-like layout of rooms, lounges, and performance spaces. The performances on each stage combine a few different performers for about 20 minutes, then a break to encourage the crowd to continue wandering. We were really impressed again by the performers, though we did run out of steam towards the end of our show period. I guess that advice on pre-gaming was sound.

In terms of rums, we got to try four expressions including a navy rum, a pineapple and cherry infused rums, and a heavy pot still rum called 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea that’s inspired by the venue’s signature lounge and optional dining experience. These rums are well-positioned for a general audience and so are pretty easy to drink (and in the case of the cherry rum by adding sugar). There’s a gift shop where you can take home bottles.

There’s no way to see everything during your visit, given that there are performances happening on at least two or three stages simultaneously, but this is half the fun. Lost Spirits is a lot of fun and a great option with a group.

Las Vegas’ Golden Monkey Tiki Bar Needs to Do More

We landed at Resorts World in Las Vegas to have dinner in their Famous Foods dining court, but I wanted to check out the Mai Tai at The Golden Monkey, a modern tiki bar that’s drawn mixed reviews. Indeed the lounge has some legit tiki touches including a wall of tiki mugs, though there is lots of light coming in from the adjacent hallway and some walls that are somewhat bare.

There were a few parties inside, so we sat at the bar. The bartenders couldn’t have been friendlier and the rest of my group also did drinks. The cocktail menu is a mix of classic exotic drinks such as the Saturn and Three Dots & a Dash, and some modern ones featuring ingredients such coconut fat-washed whisky.

The Mai Tai features Mount Gay Eclipse and Myers’s dark, with Giffard Orgeat, Thai Basil Syrup and Lime. I don’t find the Giffard to be a pleasant flavor and the Thai Basil Syrup didn’t do anything for me either. With the delicate Eclipse rum forming the base, this wasn’t a particularly flavorful Mai Tai and leaned tart.

The Polynesian Pearl Diver that Mrs. Mai Tai ordered was a lot better, though. This features two great rums, El Dorado 12 and Smith & Cross, and one okay rum, Brugal 1888. There’s also Falernum, Cookie Butter, Orange, Lime, Cream, and Bitters. This was a very nice cocktail and our friends liked theirs as well.

This was our second visit to Golden Monkey on a Saturday and the customers inside have been small both times (meanwhile, off-strip bars The Golden Tiki and Stray Pirate were packed earlier in the day), which is not a good sign for the longevity of venue. The lack of signage inside the hotel makes it hard to find even if you’re looking for it, which I’m sure doesn’t help. I don’t mind modern tiki in the least, but the lack of outreach to the tiki community and the poor Mai Tai means that many feel this place isn’t worth seeking out. Its fine but they need to do more to last long-term.

Stray Pirate is Las Vegas’ Latest Immersive Experience Bar

We missed the opening of Stray Pirate by a week on our last visit and were glad we made it this time. This is a tiki-inspired bar with a stray dog/pirate theme. The dogs are pirates and you are in the hold of the ship, a fun variant of the nautical themed bars that seem to be popping up everywhere lately. Technically no tikis but you probably won’t miss them even if you’re a fan of the tiki bar genre.

There are plenty of spaces to hang out, thanks to the large bar one side, large tables on the other, and small tables running through the middle. A couple immersive booths are at one end and a photo spot on the other end near the restrooms. The decor includes “underwater” screens and lots of thematic paintings of pirate dogs. We loved the vibe inside and totally felt relaxed. The location in Vegas’ Arts District means you can browse eclectic shops before or after your visit and even do some bar hopping if that’s your thing.

The Stray Pirate cocktail menu is very small but I’m pleased to report their Mai Tai with Jamaica and Martinique rums is fantastic. The rums aren’t aged much, if at all, but the flavor of the Mai Tai is full bodied with a long finish. Mrs. Mai Tai’s Get It Kraken was a fantastic blend of Cachaca and coconut, and they have a respectable selection of premium rums and other spirits.

Stray Pirate is a fun bar with an immersive theme and great cocktails. It’s another great destination in Las Vegas.

Island Time Floats Tiki Bar is Closed in Las Vegas

This “tiki bar” in front of Horseshoe (ex-Bally’s) is seemingly permanently closed.

Second photo was in November 2021 when I had a mediocre off-menu Mai Tai. That’s right, a tiki bar didn’t have the Mai Tai on the menu — and now it’s closed. Coincidence? I think not.

Thankfully Vegas has a lot better cocktail and tiki bar options than this.

Happier times?