Here’s something Highland Park locals probably don’t want you to know: Tiki Tuesday at Sonny’s Hideaway is one of the city’s best-kept cocktail secrets.
Starting at 5 p.m., young neighborhood couples start to fill up seats at Northeast L.A.’s best cocktail bar, many of them sporting straw hats and Tommy Bahama-style shirts. Someone at the bar orders a Mai Tai, and what they receive is a far cry from the pineapple and orange juice sugar bomb you’d find at most beach resorts. Instead, the classic drink is crafted with aged rums from Trinidad, Guyana, and Martinique, plus a house-made Creole shrub, lime, and orgeat— a type of sweet almond syrup. It’s also dangerously strong, given its refreshing and smooth profile. But that’s just how it goes on Tiki Tuesdays.
The weekly event—where Hawaiian shirts are heartily encouraged—began back in June, when bar manager John Kelly O’Hare introduced a weekly list of six tropical cocktails and punches, paired with an island-inspired dish by chef Alexander Abdel-Monem—which might range from cured hamachi with Thai basil to pineapple pork rillettes with passion fruit mostarda.
The stars of the show, undoubtedly, are the potent and creative cocktails. They pay homage to L.A.’s historic tiki culture while also lending a fine level of craftsmanship thanks to Caribbean rums, exotic liqueurs, house-made syrups, and juices. The Sunn o))) ($12)—cleverly named after a obscure drone metal band from Seattle—tames the funky kick of barrel-aged rum with tangerine juice, lime and spiced syrup, while the Five-O ($12) features an odd combination of anise-scented Batavia Arrack with Austrian spiced rum and pineapple. Are you bold enough to finish the Talisman of the Moon, a towering cream-colored concoction made with Italian coffee liqueur and toasted coconut? (plus rum, of course). In true tiki style, expect elaborate garnishes like plumes of pineapple leaf, cherries, fresh herbs, and twirls of citrus peel. These nouveau tropical drinks are certainly an upgrade from what you’ll find at classic tiki dives like Tiki Ti and Tonga Hut, but the faux-Polynesian spirit remains the same.
Sonny’s Hideaway, 5137 York Blvd., Highland Park, 323-255-2000