Almost a century after famous establishments like Don the Beachcomer and Trader Vics introduced their Polynesian-themed good times to the West Coast, tiki bars have been popping back up across the country. Here in Fort Worth, you can dip your toe into this fruit juice and rum-soaked craze, too, as West Magnolia Avenue cocktail lounge Proper will convert itself into Gigi’s Tiki Tiki Lounge, a limited-time pop-up beginning Thursday and lasting through the end of September.
I pulled Proper co-owner Lisa Little-Adams aside to chat about Gigi’s and scored some advice on what to order at the bar this summer.
Last Call: Will tiki drinks replace Proper’s standard drink offerings?
Little-Adams: This is in addition to our regular cocktail menu. We will be using drinks the bartenders created and submitted, along with some classic tiki cocktails.
Are you making tiki-themed changes to the decor as well?
Oh, yeah! We’re closed for the July 4 holiday and will reopen as Gigi’s Tiki Tiki Lounge on Thursday. It’s a lot of decorations and work to put up and take down, so we will keep it up longer than most pop-ups.
What inspired you to turn your successful cocktail bar into a South Pacific-style lounge?
Tiki culture and tropical, Polynesian atmospheres have always been something I love. I’m originally from Florida, and I miss the vibe and lifestyle that was present when I was growing up there. My grandparents would travel to Hawaii every year and bring back gifts for us, and I was enthralled with their pictures and stories of tiki restaurants and fancy drinks.
Tiki is more than just fruity cocktails and some cheap decorations, though. It’s a culture and, for some, a lifestyle. It has to be done correctly or else you can disappoint those people, and I wouldn’t want to do that.
For locals who have not experimented with this style of drinks yet, what do you wish they knew before they order?
Take it slow but have fun. The drinks can be a little boozy. Seriously, though, when you walk into a tiki lounge, you should leave your cares behind and immerse yourself into everything that is not your 9-to-5 life. Have a Piña Colada, Mai-Tai, or a Scorpion Bowl with friends and forget about the outside world. Also, expect to wait a bit longer for your drinks. Treat it as an experience, and it’ll be worth the wait.
What would you recommend to order first?
For me, it was ordering something with flavors I was used to at first, then I got a little more adventurous and branched out. I’m still getting used to papaya.
What should a tiki bar veteran pick?
Go for the drinks that have the different, funky rums you’ve never had. They’re usually pretty surprising.
Gigi’s Tiki Tiki Lounge/Proper
409 W Magnolia Av, FW. 817-984-1133.