Before opening the doors to Tiki-Ti in 1961, Ray Buhen spent nearly three decades working in almost every venerable faux-Polynesian restaurant in Los Angeles, beginning with Don the Beachcomber, in 1934. The formulas he learned under Donn Beach, alongside Buhen’s own proprietary drinks, would ultimately form the foundation of Tiki-Ti; they remain nearly unchanged since the bar opened more than five decades ago.
Located on an unremarkable stretch of Sunset Boulevard, the diminutive bar is now run by Buhen’s son and grandsons (it wasn’t until 2015 that Tiki-Ti hired its first employee), who have kept the bar’s original recipes a closely guarded secret. In fact, among the genre’s cognoscenti, Tiki-Ti is considered the place to experience iconic drinks like the Mai Tai and the Zombie in their original forms.
But among the bar’s 94 cocktails, it’s Ray’s originals, like the Puka Punch, the Blood and Sand, the Ooga Booga and, most notably, Ray’s Mistake—”A unique taste (and the most popular) experience, made with our own Super Secret Flavor…”—that have become the bar’s true calling cards.
Enter the Time Machine