Updated: Jun 27, 2020
Do cocktails have a certain stigma attached to them? I feel like they do, especially with the male population of the world. I remember ordering a piña colada in Spain once, roasting in an exotic country, and I just wanted something different than beer. The drink was ordered and when the waiter served us our drinks, he looked me straight in the eyes and smirked: “Piña colada, for the lady.” I have not ordered a cocktail since, until now.
Located in East Vancouver, 4362 Main Street to be exact, lies The Shameful Tiki Room. Long story short, after the boom in tiki culture in 1933 made famous by the opening of Don the Beachcomber, a Polynesian-themed restaurant in Hollywood. The tiki theme has dived in and out of fashion over the decades, until now. Owned by Ron Moore, The Shame Tiki Room arrives from Moore’s obsession with tiki culture and importing all the best parts about other tiki rooms and creating what we see in Vancouver today. Currently, there are 2 Shameful Tiki Rooms, one in Vancouver and one in Toronto.
Let’s set the theme, there are no windows, the room is dimly lit, little to no music, and laughter and conversation fill the room. The décor is just fucking nuts, pure tiki at its finest including vintage tiki posters, puffer-fish lamps, hanging bottles, and thatched bamboo roofing. The size of the bar is small, at 1,200 square feet it can hold roughly 50 give or take. The menu is just a classic, cocktails are clearly labeled and given a strength rating. There are also bowls for sharing including the mystery bowl. When ordering one, a gong is rung and staff and patrons shout “MYSTERY BOWL!” while smoke fills the room as the flaming bowl arrives at your table. There’s also food available but don't expect fine dining, we are talking your quick and easy bites such as nachos, ribs, and curry.
Let’s talk about the cocktails, that’s why you're reading this right? In a nutshell, by far the best my 30-year-old body has ever tasted. The first order included the Zombie; Navy rum with bitters, grapefruit and secret spices. This cocktail is so strong they only allow 2 per customer. Strong is an understatement with this drink, it was powerful but the fruit kept it sweet and refreshing. Mint and a skull stirrer added to the deadliness and legend surrounded the drink. I felt pretty half cut off this cocktail alone, I don’t drink cocktails remember. Next to the order was the mystery bowl, the ingredients, well, are a mystery. Made for two or more, the gong was rung and for a few seconds, our flaming cocktail was the center of attention. The cocktail itself was just awesome, again, it felt like it was loaded with rum. Tread lightly when heading here with the dark atmosphere as it's impossible to gain a sense if you're starting to get hammered or not.
Honestly? I ordered another drink and I can’t even remember what drink it was. The booze clearly hit me harder than I thought. The service was amazing, the staff are so friendly and attentive to their guests, our table was checked regularly and the exchange in conversation was both humorous and informative to the drinks on offer. The Shameful Tiki Room also has a lot of products from mugs, t-shirts, and drink bowls. All their products can be bought while you're drinking. There is also a lot of freebies to be gained whilst there, you can get free stirrers and matchbooks if you ask kindly and tip your waitress. The overall bill wasn’t heavy on the wallet either, for two of us it was just over $100 which included 4 drinks, a mystery bowl, nachos, and tip.
I entered The Shameful Tiki Room not being a big fan of cocktails, they didn’t interest me. My mind has been swayed, all thanks to this blurry night. The Shameful Tiki Room is just great, the theme is great, the drinks are great, and the atmosphere is just great. I can’t fault any part of the experience whilst visiting, a must for anyone visiting Vancouver. Make sure you order a mystery bowl and be the center of attention for at least 30 seconds, or try your hand at a zombie or 2, but no more. Book online for a reservation but seriously don’t try and call as they don’t have a landline, staying off the grid and all that jazz.
Overall rating 10/10