The Adrift, Denver, CO

By Jeff Ballard

The Adrift tiki bar in Denver, Colorado, is one of the best in the country!

Tiki Trail Port of Pleasure: Adrift Tiki Bar, Denver, Colorado

So this used to be a pretty standard dive bar. From what I understand It served syrupy, sloshy drinks on the cheap, in a rather seedy atmosphere - all under the guise of ‘tiki’. Three months ago it re-opened, though with a new decor and more importantly a new focus on craft cocktails. I spent a couple nights here in the dead of a frigid-ass cold wave and snow dusting, as well as another cold night a few weeks later. Have to say, a tiki bar has a whole new feel to it when outside is colder than a witch’s you-know-whats and it’s snowing! But honestly, my ratings do not take that into account.
Drinks 5
First, this rating should come with an asterisk.  A good one in this case! They not only do the tiki staples right, but they also experiment with some serious craft cocktails. On my first visit, when I asked what the specialty of the house was I was offered some “off-menu” options. One seriously stood out and I had to have it. I hope it makes it on the list. But if you get in there and Les is working, asking for his "smoke cocktail". It was awesome! I am hoping it makes the final menu because I would fly back to
Tiki Trail Craft Cocktails at the Adrift Tiki Bar, Denver, Colorado Denver just to have another! And, to me, what was really cool, is the fact that they do their own infusions! Maggie #1 (there are 2!) talked about some of her concoctions and the care and focus she gives to all of her infusions. She also is responsible for their Adrift's hand made orgeat. And let me say, her efforts are very much worth it!  As for Maggie #2, her special cocktail she contrived was quite simply one of the best drinks I have ever had. She told us we could name it. Given the color and what my friends and I do for a living, we came up with Red Cloud. I am not sure if it stuck (Zach the GM didn't seem as hip to it as we were), but I can tell you if you go in and order a Red Cloud from Maggie #2 you will NOT be disappointed! Even Zach the GM got into the action and laid his own special concoction on us. It, too, was a very tasty drink and a perfect night cap. As for what's in these drinks, I will let the bartenders share the ingredients and origins.
Food 5
Great small plates and dishes that have a very Hawaiian flair. On one of my visits I had the Waimea Bay burger that feGreat Tiki Food Menu at the Adrift Tiki Bar, Denver COatured spam and grilled pineapple chutney. Seriously?!?! You cannot go wrong with Spam! I know not everyone holds that same thought, but Spam is the state food of Hawaii. And this burger rocked it!
Decor 5

Tiki Trail Port of Pleasure: Adrift Tiki Bar, Denver, ColoradoI loved the decor. The first night was rather dark. The next visit, though, offered a bit more visibility and I was able to confirm my thoughts about the setting. The place is nicely upscale, but not pretentious. Classy and classic. Very, very nice tiki decor. Loved the giant illuminated float balls and they had tons of bamboo - more than any other bar I have seen. Of course there were tikis! They were outside guarding the door and inside throughout the place. And talk about really cool, they not only had puffer fish lights they had a school of puffer fish lights! Yea, it was *that* bitchin’!
Music 4
My first time there, I walked in and Matisyahu was playing. And it went on from there - Sublime, 311 and many other smooth upstyle reggae - and even a Marley tune or so for a real classic reggae beat. I love reggae in a tiki bar. Even though reggae is Caribbean it just fits the environment.  The other couple nights I was there, though, the music ... let's just say "varied". You'd hear surf tunes, Polynesian tunes, 80's R&B, or jazz - all on the  same play list. Very eclectic to say the least. While I love and support a number of tiki music variants, I think Adrift need to keep working on their musical vibe to perfect the right tunes for their environment.
Swag 3
Its a new bar so they don’t have much yet. In fact the first couple of visits they had nothing. Now, though, they have one of the coolest tiki mugs I have seen. They worked with Tiki Pop (who just happens to live in the area) to get a new mug designed. It is rather pricey, but each one is hand made by Tiki Pop out of high

Tiki Trail Tiki Mug from Adrift Tiki Bar, Denver, Coloradograde ceramic - and this thing is heavy! Even without the liquid inside you'd be doing more than "12 ounce curls"! But it is definitely a beautiful mug. It features Adrift's Tiki logo, the bar name and "Denver" on it. They only ordered 80 and there aren't that many left. So my advice is get there quick! Adrift is creating an additional mug that will be a bigger run, and designed by Tiki Pop, as well. And with the home run they hit on their first mug I can't wait to see the new one as well. Same goes for the rest of the merchandising efforts. (I NEED a shirt, Zach!). Once those other things happen I am expecting this score to rocket to the top as well. 
Vibe 5 
What a great vibe! The crew were great to talk to and hang out with. The kind of folks you'd go out and party with! My friends and I had a great time conversing on each trip. The bartenders are serious about their cocktails and about the authenticity of the tiki vibe. They even do some cocktail infusions that they were happy to talk about. Just spend a few minutes with them and you will see that Adrift has compiled a serious amount of craft cocktail knowledge behind that awesome bamboo bar and they are very dedicated to tiki! And there is not an air or pretense among any of them. They happily share their knowledge and experience.
Bottom line: 4.67 
This, ladies and gentleman, is one kick ass craft cocktail bar that upholds the tiki theme and tradition - as well as more than holds its own when it comes to some serious craft cocktails and knowledge! It is not a classic tiki bar like Don's, Trader Vicks or Mai Kai. Rather, I see it as a new school tiki bar. And, it's really easy to see why Adrift has already made it on to a couple “Best of” lists! It may only be a few months old, but the Adrift jumps - easily - on to my list of top tiki bars!
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Check them out for yourself at: 218 S BROADWAY • DENVER, CO 80209 
and online at or Facebook
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And make sure to tell 'em the Tiki Trail sent you!
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In the meantime, here are some more pics ...
Tiki Trail Port of Pleasure: Adrift Tiki Bar, Denver, Colorado Tiki Trail Port of Pleasure: Adrift Tiki Bar, Denver, Colorado  Tiki Trail Port of Pleasure: Adrift Tiki Bar, Denver, Colorado  Tiki Trail Port of Pleasure: Adrift Tiki Bar, Denver, Colorado  Tiki Trail Port of Pleasure: Adrift Tiki Bar, Denver, Colorado  Tiki Trail Port of Pleasure: Adrift Tiki Bar, Denver, Colorado
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