Frankie's Tiki Room
Updated: Nov 22, 2021
Checking out Las Vegas' torch bearer for the Tiki Room
I recently found myself in Las Vegas for a conference (Trimble Dimensions, if you're curious) and took the opportunity to try out Frankie's Tiki Room. Being at a conference, I had some coworkers in tow. I mentioned going and learned that one had never been to a Tiki bar so, of course, I brought him with me.
Frankie's is a few blocks off the strip at on the west side of I-15 at 1712 W Charleston Blvd. The good news is that they're open 24 - 7, the bad is that they allow smoking. The health and garnish aroma reducing effects aside, there is nothing worse than opening a suitcase with smoke infused clothes in it after it's been backing on the tarmac at McCarran and then in the belly of a plane for 5-10 hours...
Thankfully, that is the total sum of the negative of my experience at Frankie's. It's a great mix of classic Tiki with a little Vegas kitsch thrown on top. Even though it was launched in 2008, the place looks like it's been there since the 50's due to the reuse of the former Frankie's Bar and Cocktail Lounge building. By installing a Tiki bar in a 50's era lounge they achieved a lived in look you just can't create from scratch. However, those enlisted to create Frankie's Tiki Room are a who's who of Tikidom. The interior design is by Bamboo Ben (no relation) the grandson of Eli Hedley who scuplted the statues at the Aku Aku and pieces for Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room as well as various pieces throughout Adventureland. Frankie's also has pieces by Crazy Al Evans, Tiki Bosko, Leroy Schmaltz, Tiki Ray, Buzzy, Ken Pleasant, and Billy the Crud. And that's just the Tikis! THey also have contribution by Doug Horne, Tom "Big Toe" Laura, SHAG, Ken Ruzic, Bill Wray, Lynne Naylor, Thor, Mark Covell, Shaun Kama, and Mike Sosnowski. That's a lot of talent in a small room! My head was on a swivel the whole time and and I'm sure I only saw half of the stuff in there.
A favorite of mine, however, is the jukebox. It's full of traditional Exotica along with a lot more that skirts the edge of Tiki towards the harder edge of rockabilly, surf bands, and other misfit sounds that all fit in perfectly at Frankie's. It's also between the restrooms so you can hang out there until you figure out which Tiki means men's and which means women's. Did I mention I had three rounds?!
Best of all, Frankie's agrees with my central theme of spreading Tiki knowledge far and wide.
The drink menu has some classic Tiki cocktails but is also filled with a lot of originals. They have a very handy skull rating (1-5 skulls) that indicate how strong each drink is for those looking for a warning (or hint). I had a Surf Dragon (with an excellent souvineer mug by Big Toe), a Nakalele Knockout, and a Tonga Reefer. My coworker had three Three Rum Scums. Thank god for Uber. The best I heard from my friend was, "They're a little sweet but the taste good". Then he stood up when our Uber was within a block, grabbed the edge of the table for stability, and said, "Damn, I only had 3 drinks!" Welcome to Tikidom.
All drinks are $10 (which is a steal) and drinks with souvenir mugs are $25. Next time I'll bring a bigger suitcase. Best of all, Frankie's agrees with my central theme of spreading Tiki knowledge far and wide. To that end, they have published 60 of their original drink recipes in a book "Liquid Vacation" by P. Moss and Frankie's drink menu creators Chris Andrasfay, Allison Hartling, and Mike Richardson.
If you're in Vegas, I highly recommend hitting Frankie's Tiki Room. Tell 'em Bamboo Sam sent ya.
Source - Liquid Vacation, P. Moss, et al.
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
2 ounces Guava nectar
1 ounce Cruzan Guava rum
1/2 ounce Whaler's Vanilla rum
1/2 ounce Wray & Nephew White Overproof rum
1/2 ounce Whaler's Original Dark rum
Shake everything with crushed ice except the Whaler's Original Dark rum. Gated pour into a footed pilsner glass and float the dark rum on top. Garnish with a vanilla bean and an orchid.