Fall is nearly here, but let's stay in summer mode for just a little while longer by throwing a cocktail party with a tropical theme. The key to a stress-free fete is pre-batched Tiki drinks, a make-ahead strategy that will leave you free to hang out and have fun instead of playing bartender. Here's how to make the most of this cool drink trend.

Tiki Party Cocktails
Photo by Matthew Wencl

Chillin' Island Style

During a recent trip to Maui, I became obsessed with the Mai Tai. I've never tried one before this trip; I'm not a fan of sticky sweet cocktails. But I tried one at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, home of the world famous Tiki Bar, and after one sip, I was hooked.

This Mai Tai is sweet, but balanced with citrus and a splash of oregat, also known as almond syrup. When I got home, I found the Perfect Mai Tai recipe, and whipped up a big batch for a tiki party with friends. Here's how:

Photo by Meredith

Three Easy Steps

The idea of pre-batched cocktails is to keep things simple, and, while it might sound involved, think of it this way: it's really just a way of re-branding punch.

  • Step 1: Mix drinks up in advance, and keep the pitcher in the fridge until you're ready to pour.
  • Step 2: Prep garnishes and set up a "bar" with a bucket of ice.
  • Step 3: Make your guests' first drink, and then invite them to refresh their glass from the pitcher as they please.

Pro tip: My brother, Chris, tended bar on Maui for 10 years and made a bazillion Mai Tais. He shared the secret to creating the Mai Tai's distinctive layered look: Don't add the dark rum to the pitcher. Instead, float an ounce or so on the top of each glass after pouring. Then add a slice of pineapple on the rim of the glass. Paper umbrellas and orchids are optional. Super easy and so delicious.

Mai Tai Cocktail
Mai Tai | Photo by Allrecipes

Set the Mood

For more tiki recipe inspiration, check out Tiki Cocktails Paired With the Perfect Island Bites, and learn more about tiki culture and how to decorate for a perfect tiki party lounge vibe.

Spinning the Hawaiian Soundtrack

Nothing sets the tropical tone like ukelele master Jake Shimabukuro on shuffle, but if you want to turn up the energy, try streaming Island 98.5, the Hawaiian Reggae station out of Honolulu.

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