Don’t bother, they said. No need to even look. There is NO tiki in Raleigh. Well, always one to explore, I pursued and managed to find a brand new tiki outpost … in Raleigh, NC! And this time it’s not just my word for a bar on the Tiki Trail, it's actually their name - The Outpost. This is a brand new tiki bar that opened up in downtown Raleigh a few months ago. It certainly may not be the first place you’d look for tiki, but it’s here! So how was it? Well, let me tell you ...
Drinks - 5
With tiki it’s all about the craft of the cocktail! And these guys grew out of the Raleigh craft cocktail scene to introduce a dedicated tiki bar to the city. They bring the focus and care of craft cocktails to tiki, which is a huge departure for most of the “tiki” drinks you can supposedly get around the city. They have a well stocked bar and keen eye toward delivering tiki staples - Painkiller, Jungle Bird, Zombie and others - as well as new tiki inspired innovations. They have 2 different takes on Mai Tai. I got the California Mai Tai as (1) I am from CA!, and (2) it is the closest they have to the original Mai Tais. I also got a Zombie. Both were very good! Definitely enjoyed them and would put them up against tiki drinks you’d get just about anywhere else in the country. Their own concoctions include a Fernet Mudslide, which I also had. That was very tasty and nowhere “tiki” but loved it just the same! It definitely fit in their overall cocktail portfolio. They also have some infusions they are working on, as well as some other projects! The menu is slated to change every 3 months or so to meet seasonality and to stay fresh. So, if you re lucky enough to be in the area you need to become a regular to stay up on their latest cocktails!
Food - 0
No food, just cocktails. Some appetizers would be great - something to go into the stomach beyond the alcohol! I know they have some restrictions, but maybe this will come down the road in one fashion or another. Maybe partner with a food truck and put it out front! That could be cool!
Music - 4
They refer to their style as ‘punk tiki’ and the music fits the theme. Not to worry if that sounds hard core. The music blended into the environment. It wasn’t a loud blaring punk. Just something that gave an aural edge to the vibe. I loved it and I think many tikiphiles will appreciate it as well. Exotica would not work here at all, I don’t think. Cool surf music and/or island reggae could work if it was edgy, so it'd be interesting to hear that in this scene. When I first got there, they had a singer performing live. He had a nice tone that was a bit more casual - it was indy for sure, but not punk and was a cool contrast actually.
Decor - 4
I can only imagine the degree of difficulty in trying to find tiki decorations in the South. You won’t find any bamboo or thatch work here, but these guys managed to do a great job filling the house with tiki. Yes, I said house. That’s not slang. It is an actual converted house! You can see what used to be the living room, dining room, etc. as they maintained the separate rooms. It’s very different from your typical establishment and I liked it. It gives a more intimate feel to wherever you are sitting. So back to the decor, they had an awesome wall mural right as you walk in. And at the end of that mural is a killer 6 foot huge tiki, making this one awesome entrance! And all around the place are a number of tikis and tiki art, from the likes of Doug Horne and others, that reflects that punk tiki attitude they have instilled.
Swag - N/A
I will cut them a break here as the place is only 3 months old! Also, I understand they do have shirts in the works. My hope is they can also figure out a cool mug as well (also in the works). So for now I will give The Outpost a free pass here. Make sure to be on the lookout for their shirts, though. They have a cool logo and I can’t wait to see it on a shirt!
Vibe - 4
It had a great vibe. Very friendly, knowledgable staff happy to talk tiki, guide you in your drink choices, and just chat in general. With the decor and the intimate room-based settings it just had a nice homey feel - no pun intended! The place kind of felt like a buddy's home party place and, as such, a cool place to just hang out and enjoy some great tiki libations.
Overall - 3.4
Overall, this is a solid tiki bar! And as they grow beyond the three months they have been opened so far I see it getting stronger. They have the right kind of knowledge behind the bar as well as driving their tiki vision. The biggest ‘knock’ is the lack of food. If you take that out of the equation they score even better. I am looking forward to my next trip to Raleigh so I can go back. Hopefully, they’ll have their shirts by then!
And on their Facebook page.