Tiki Drink: Mr. Bali Hai

Coffee is an under-used flavor element in Tiki drinks. There are a few that feature it a front-row ingredient, mostly in hot drinks like the Flaming Kona Koffee Grog. Board of Tiki Idols member, Colonel Tiki has written about creating his own coffee syrup for us in his original Tiki drink, the Dark Magic, but I’ve got enough new syrups to make this time through Tiki Month without adding coffee syrup to my agenda. And BOTI member Tiare wrote about an original of her own, Banda Island Punch, as part of her Tiki Month festivities and it uses coffee liqueur. Coffee liqueur I have in the shape of a big Kahlua bottle I seldom employ, but T’s punch employs it in a very small amount. I was looking for something where the coffee flavor is a bit more front row.

My wife is a big coffee fan, and I aim to please….

A quick flip through the Tiki+ app, and I chose to go with the Mr. Bali Hai, for a number of reasons. The ingredient list is pretty easy to put together for the non-Tikiphile, comparatively, and I wanted to have a few of these Tiki drinks that don’t require specialized setups or inventory to pull off in this year’s schedule.
And South Pacific was the first professional stage production I ever saw. I was about 8 and it was a high-end dinner theater in Florida. I admit to loving it, and Bali Hai was my favorite song.


  • 1 1/2 oz. unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 3/4 – 1 oz. Kahlua
  • 1 oz. silver rum
  • 1 1/2 oz. dark Jamaican rum

Shake well with cracked ice and pour unstrained into into a double old-fashioned glass or mug that looks like it could be Mr. Bali Hai. Go for a lush, rather than festive garnish.

The original recipe calls for only 3/4 of an ounce. At that level, the coffee is still a background element, and takes a moment to be identified. If you want to try this drink as a Kahlua, or just as a coffee-flavor vehicle, bump it up just a bit and it becomes more apparent. My wife likes the stronger version, whereas I prefer the original.

I leave you with the inspiration for the drink. Hollywood went a little insane on the color saturation in the 50s, but the song is magnificent….

About the author


I am 48 years old, married with two young daughters. My interests are tennis, reading, computers, politics, and of course cocktails. I run a murder mystery party business that caters to both corporate and private events, Killing Time, murder consultants.


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