19 Tropical Cocktail Bars That Will Make You Feel Like You're on Spring Break

Blue hawaiian cocktail on bar counter
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It's five o'clock somewhere, and during spring break that means it's time for a great tropical drink. Even if you're not humming along to Jimmy Buffett tunes at a beach bar in the Caribbean you can enjoy the tastes of the tropics. In fact, a mai tai can be the best way to ignore the fact that your city is getting hammered by yet another winter storm.

To help bring spring break to you, we've rounded up the best places to get a tropical drink around the country. Some spots, like Captain Tony's Saloon, a divey bar in Key West, serve up a taste of history along with their cocktails. Others, like New York's Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, bring a warm weather vibe to a cold weather clime.

Here are our picks for the best places to drink like it's spring break in your city:

Best Tropical Drink Bars
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19 Tropical Cocktail Bars That Will Make You Feel Like You're on Spring Break

Give your eyes a minute to adjust to the dim lighting inside Frankie's Tiki Room and you'll uncover a world of custom-carved tikis, looped B-movies and the most deceptively stiff island-themed cocktails around. The strength of each cocktail is denoted on the menu by number of skulls; the Zombie ($9), a high-octane combination of multiple rums and juices, rightly earns all five.

--Jack Houston

For candy-colored boat drinks alfresco, brave the tourist crowds and tacky shops of International Drive to hit Bahama Breeze Island Grill's happening patio. Try a Goombay Smash -- a Bahamian favorite with a mix of rums and tropical juices -- or a Painkiller, with its potent mix of cream of coconut, dark rum, and pineapple and orange. Drinks range $7-$9.

--Terry Ward

You'll overlook the mildly suburban Polynesian vibe as soon as you see Bali Hai's bay view of San Diego. Known for its mai tai ($7.95), which, with no juice and three rums may be the strongest version of the drink you've ever tasted, the restaurant also has milder drinks like the Mr. Bali Hai ($6.50), a mixture of rum, pineapple juice and blackberry, which come in tiki mugs you can take home.

--Jess Moss

The beaches of Mexico may be far away, but the frozen margaritas at Sunset Cantina on Commonwealth Avenue will transport you to Cancun's beating sun and enormous palms. Though there are more than 25 flavors, the tangy, sweet pomegranate blend of the classic Cantina Margarita ($6.99) can only be matched by Sunset's addicting chips and salsa.

--Maggie Burdge

Pinewood Social is a bar/restaurant/bowling alley with a solid selection of tropical cocktails. Go for the rum-based Act of Contrition ($12), which gets a hit of Fernet Branca and lime, or the War of the Pacific ($12), a Pisco drink with notes of grapefruit and an egg-white finish. Or try non-alcoholic options like the ginger lime tonic ($7).

--Erin Murray

Head to Captain Tony's Saloon, the site of the original Sloppy Joe's bar once frequented by Hemingway. A dark, cool lair just off Duval Street, the walls are covered with license plates, and bras hang from the rafters overhead. Order the Pirates Punch ($7.50), a legendary rum and fruit juice concoction made in 80 gallon batches. The only people who know the actual recipe are the owner and the general manager.

--Shayne Benowitz

Pretend you're in Florida (or on a cruise ship) at the Brooklyn Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, newly opened in February. There are palm trees, cabanas and tropical drinks named after famous shuffleboarders that are served -- complete with umbrellas -- in mason jars.

--Jess Moss

The Lehua Lounge at the swanky new Maui Andaz has comfy sofas and handcrafted cocktails -- including the best mai tai ($16) you've ever had. Sit by the fire pit for sublime views of the oceanfront infinity pools.

--Dave Seminara

Channel the spirit of Trader Vic at subterranean 3 Dots and a Dash, where umbrella drinks like the Tropical Itch ($13) and Jungle Bird ($13) come in tacky-trophy souvenir glasses.

--Elaine Glusac

Nothing but fresh-squeezed juices are used for the carefully crafted craft cocktails at Lark on the Park, overlooking Klyde Warren Park. Caribbean Winter ($13) is a tall glass of tropical dreams -- with Zaya rum, pineapple juice, Angostura and other goodness.

--Sophia Dembling

You're not at the beach until you've had the fruity beverage or cold beer of your choice. Lucky for you, one of only two of Jimmy Buffett's LandShark Bar & Grill locations is just steps off the sand. Quench your thirst with a margarita and a killer view.
--Melissa Byers

Photo by Edward Beavers

The classic tropical drink in Hawaii is the mai tai ($14), a blend of rum, Curacao liqueur and lime juice, often adorned with a pineapple wedge skewered by a plastic sword. And the best place to sip one -- or three -- is at the House Without A Key, the outdoor gathering spot at the posh Halekulani hotel in Waikiki. You can't beat the setting: live Hawaiian music with dancers swaying to the rhythm of palm trees and the expansive of the Pacific Ocean spread out in front of you.

--Catherine Toth

With its upscale island vibe -- replete with tiki statues and faux grass hut roofs over the bar -- Taha's Twisted Tiki is the Lou's only true tropical-themed watering hole. It's just the place to find fine rum drinks, from mai tais ($9) to zombies ($9) and then some.

--Matt Sorrell

Tiki culture is alive and well at Adrift, an oasis on the South Broadway corridor. Send your taste buds to the beach with a fruit-forward banana daiquiri ($8) or the Missionary's Downfall ($8), which is made with rum from Crested Butte's Montanya Distillers, peach brandy, pineapple, mint and lime.

--Daliah Singer

Decorated with antiques from the '30s, '40s and '50s and with a silly year-round Christmas theme, Captiva restaurant the Bubble Room is an admittedly kitsch must-do. The desserts and cocktails are legendary. Try a Captiva Cooler, spiked with coconut and mango rum, or opt for the Pink Flamingo, made with fresh fruit, banana liqueur and blackberry brandy.

--Terry Ward

Take a South Seas liquid vacation at East Hollywood's eclectic Tiki-Ti bar, which mixes what are universally hailed L.A.'s best (not to mention most potent) tropical cocktails -- from head-spinning mai tais to the rum-loaded knockout punch named Ray's Mistake ($9). The miniscule bar, opened in 1961 and packed with Polynesian kitsch, is owner-operated; always check the website or call ahead to make sure it's open.
--Eli Ellison

Don your tropical attire and duck into the Tonga Room. This exotic bar and restaurant has been here since 1945, but you wouldn't know it. Grab a seat near the lagoon, choose among the decadent rum-laden libations like the potent Zombie, mai tai or pineapple royale ($12-$18), and watch out for the rainstorms -- which come on schedule.
--Jill K. Robinson

Photo: neekoh.fi via Flickr

Tucked in the middle of funky Lower Westheimer, Anvil Bar and Refuge began Houston's craft cocktail revival. Get your tiki drink fix here with classics like the Mai Tai ($10), Blue Hawaiian ($9) and Zombie ($12). Bonus: the bartenders can tell you the history of each one.

--Holly Beretto

Ignore the neon concoctions of Bourbon Street and head to Port of Call on Esplanade. This salty dog tavern serves enormous tropical drinks (starting at $5.50) that are more kick ass than fruity punch. It doesn't hurt that Port of Call's kitchen cooks what may be the best burgers in the city.

--Adam Karlin

Photo by Numinosity (Gary J Wood), via Flickr


Did we miss one? Add your favorite tropical drink bars in the comments below or tweet to us @AOLTravel.

For more spring break vacation ideas and ways to bring a bit of the tropics to your hometown, check out our spring break crawls in 26 cities around the United States.

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