Classic cocktailers take on tiki

Artists who toil in a classical mold sometimes find happiness by moving in a more exotic direction, like Picasso with Cubism, or, uh, Yo-Yo Ma with Bobby McFerrin? Proving cocktail artists have similar urges: Lani Kai.

From the mixologist behind the rigorously classic cocktailery Clover Club (and native hawaiian Julie Reiner), LK's a bi-level island-steez'd lounge naturally illuminated by floor to ceiling windows and a skylight, sprinkled with tropical flora, and boasting decor touches from a handmade sea shell chandelier, to a Hawaiian fire pit, which keeps the place alo-hot. Sorry. Riffs on tropical tipples are broken into categories, from florally-garnished "Spice and Tropical Tea" entries (the Hawaiian Iced Tea = Liliuokalani black tea-infused orange vodka, mint tea syrup, and lemon juice), and the fruit-heavy "Another Day in Paradise" group, which boasts a gin/ basil/ ginger/ simple syrup/ lime juice/ melon chunks concoction called the Lone Palm, odd, as avoiding that's the reason you're at a bar in the first place. They also cover "Old School" options from mai tais to swizzles; cachaca-heavy "Brainfreeze" frozen jobs; a grip of "Ohanu" specials designed by noted mixologist pals (sporting cred from Death & Co to Milk & Honey); family-sized "Liquid Luaus"; and "Boozy and Stirred" jobs like the Old Forrester 100/Black Strap/barrel-aged bitters/Demerara syrup "Black Pearl" -- drink too much and you'll get a total Geoffrey Rush to the head. Sooo not sorry.

Polynesian bites provide fortification, including mustard-sauced crab wontons, baby back ribs w/ macadamia nuts & scallions, and tempura-fried whole snapper, all ensuring the exotic direction you're headed is buy much bigger pants.