This tiki bar in Downtown Long Beach is hidden behind a wall just for you

There are two things Beer Belly has never been lighthearted on: its food and its drinks—the latter of which are perhaps its most underrated aspect thanks to a spectacular bar program headed by James Squire and Sherwood Souzankari.

The Downtown business can now add a hidden tiki bar to its list of accomplishments.

Beer Belly's Tikitiki offers the classic Frozen Bird, a concoction of rum, Campari, pineapple, and watermelon. Photo by Sherwood Souzankari.

Beer Belly’s Tikitiki offers the classic Frozen Bird, a concoction of rum, Campari, pineapple, and watermelon. Photo by Sherwood Souzankari.

Every Thursday through Saturday, beginning at 6 p.m. until midnight, one has to simply venture toward the western wall inside Beer Belly, push on it, and enter Tikitiki, a dark, red-and-blue tinged, pufferfish lantern-lit space offering up classics like Frozen Birds to Souzankari’s more creative creations. (Like the Desert Daiquiri, a blend of rum and aloe liqueur with hints of pineapple-and-sugar and lime-and-salt.)

With flexibility in terms of management—maintaining a permanent tiki bar could be financial ruin in some cases, but with an offshoot attached to a restaurant, stability remains viable—and a genuine cool factor in terms of vibes—the room is devoid of any outside light and creates a sense of total escape—Tikitiki is the type of space needed in what was becoming a monotonous bar scene.

Sherwood Souzankari greets patrons at Tikitiki, Beer Belly's hidden bar. Photo by Brian Addison.

Sherwood Souzankari greets patrons at Tikitiki, Beer Belly’s hidden bar. Photo by Brian Addison.

“We [Squire and I] wanted something cool—we wanted to build something that was like a hidden tiki bar but wasn’t completely held down to being a traditional tiki,” Souzankari said. “We wanted something we would both visit if we were a patron. We decided to approach the menu in the same way, building out drinks that people could be familiar with but with a more modern tiki twist, like an old fashioned, but with a rum base instead of whiskey base.”

Rum is where Tikitki shines thanks to the liqueur-centric talents of Souzankari.

The punch bowl at Beer Belly's Tikitiki bar comes with a show. Photo by Brian Addison.

The punch bowl at Beer Belly’s Tikitiki bar comes with a show. Photo by Brian Addison.

His approach is far more reflective of the L.A. cocktail scene as a whole than it is Long Beach-specific: sometimes challenging, oftentimes rewarding. This also goes for his approach to the rum selection, where you’ll find everything from a Oaxacan rum that leans toward the savory—I am being quite serious; it tastes similar to Spaghetti-Os and it’s strangely satisfying—to Haitian rum aged for 8 years.

Add onto this punch bowls (complete with a mini-fire spectacular), music that serenades while you intoxicate, and an overall sense of escape and you have little wonder that is Tikitiki.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food to politics to urban transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 12 nominations and an additional win for Best Political Commentary. Born in Big Bear, he has lived in Long Beach since college. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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