Tay Ho Tiki Company is the latest addition to Hanoi’s fast expanding cocktail of craft watering holes.
Since September they’ve been operating on Au Co, close to the flower market, and they’ve been gathering crowds looking for their signature tiki-inspired cocktails.
Barman and co-owner Carl Hamilton has 10 years’ experience mixing cocktails across Australia and in Toronto, and his craftsmanship is evident in the drinks he puts on the table.
The bar draws its inspiration from the tiki fad that began in California after the Second World War. Two bartenders who’d been stationed in Polynesia during wartime had come home to a bleak and anxious urban sprawl. They created the alter egos Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic, opening bars with their own take on Polynesian style, and mixing fruity and exotic cocktails. The tiki fascination swept through America during the 1950s and 1960s, where people would flock in droves after work seeking an escape from the monotony of their daily routines.
This unassuming little venue, with its thatched roof, ocean-blue wall hangings and Pacific-looking water feature is now carrying the torch in Hanoi for this reviving trend. Their menu is a mix of rum infused tiki classics like mai tai and the zombie, and a collection of their own cocktails that use local fruits, home-made syrups, and even Vietnamese coffee beans, giving the drinks a whole new edge that pineapples alone couldn’t provide.
Mai Kind of Drink
The menu is divided into three main sections: Tay Ho Tiki Originals, Classics and Tiki Classics.
The foundation of the menu are the tiki classics. The most famous tiki cocktail, the rum-infused mai tai is VND120,000, and the very first tiki cocktail, the zombie — described by its inventor as “a mender of broken dreams” — costs VND200,000. Also present is the ginger beer-based Dark ‘n’ Stormy for VND80,000, while the pina colada and the excellent winter warmer, hot buttered rum, cost VND140,000.
The Tay Ho Tiki Originals are where barman Carl’s passion for the tiki cocktail shines through. With a choice of seven drinks to choose from, it’s difficult to know where to start. A quick read through the ingredients in each concoction will leave you questioning your understanding of the English language, but a glance at the other tables’ drinks will give you enough confidence to pick one and wait for the best to come. A great showpiece here is The East Sea. Premium rum mixed with homemade allspice liquor, homemade passion fruit syrup, orgeat syrup and lime — VND120,000.
The Classics menu includes all the standards like the Old Fashioned, martini, mojito and some less common sights like the Last Word, a mix of Bombay Sapphire, cherry liquor and green chartreuse, with lime. All the drinks on here cost between VND80,000 and VND200,000.
Also worth a try is their homemade ginger beer — available in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, for VND60,000 per 500ml bottle.
On top of having a small but permanent food menu including both vegetarian and carnie Jamaican patties for VND30,000 and VND40,000, and hot dogs for VND80,000, Tay Ho Tiki Company has also been supporting local chefs who don’t have a platform for their cooking.
Every month they have a guest chef to run a pop-up kitchen, ensuring that vegetarian options are given equal consideration in the process. Previous chefs have included chef Shay from Middle Eastern restaurant Daluva, who cooked up laksa — Indonesian curry noodles; Pham Nhu Long from Hanoi who graced guests with a pho burger; and Erin Ellis from Kentucky, who put together southern-style pulled pork sandwiches and cubanos.
Tay Ho Tiki Company is the premier spot in Hanoi right now for speciality cocktails; space is limited and most accommodating to small groups or a romantic date.
Tay Ho Tiki Company is at 228a Au Co, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Opening hours are 5pm to 11.30pm
Photos by Teigue John Blokpoel