Tropic Thunder. Image courtesy of JuJu’s Drink Shack.

Vancouver’s New Pop-Up Tiki Bar Packs a Playful Punch

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It doesn’t take much to awaken my inner tiki girl. For sure, a gentle breeze through the palm trees and the lapping of an aquamarine sea against a white, sandy shoreline works, but honestly, “Shall we have a tiki cocktail?” whispered in my ear is just as effective.

Imagine how excited I was to hear that the folks at Published on Main were opening a pop-up version of the tiki bar concept they had been working on for the past year—JuJu’s Drink Shack. Now that I’ve tried it, I’m even more thrilled because, yes, it is that good.

First up: the drinks. A selection of classic tiki mixes are premixed into bottles that will make four to eight cocktails, depending on which you choose, and traditional garnishes are also available. If you don’t have rum in the house, don’t panic: JuJu’s sells it by the bottle, or as part of a selection of party cocktail packs that also include ice.

Mai Tai drink

Mai Tai. Image courtesy of JuJu’s Drink Shack.

It’s hard to beat a Mai Tai when it comes to my tiki cocktail of choice, but JuJu’s Piña Colada made me wonder why I consistently overlook this crowd favourite—good enough to dispel any lingering memories of the overly sweet, watered-down versions that all-inclusive in Mexico dished up. It’s a simple drink, but that’s why a well-balanced iteration is a revelation—JuJu’s version rekindled my love for it.

The Tropic Thunder was also a worthy tiki trip, the orgeat and lime juice bringing a deeper dimension to the pineapple and coconut base. If you are not a tiki veteran, be warned: you can easily drink more than you had planned.

Which is why you need food—something I’d usually argue is not the big draw in tiki land. But here, once again, JuJu’s excels.

Pork belly dish JuJu's Drink Shack

Pork belly. Image courtesy of JuJu’s Drink Shack.

Take the scallop crudo: thick slices of fresh, plump scallops are presented with little balls of crunchy radish and cucumber, bathed in a slick of addictive coconut lime sauce and garnished with crispy ginger. Pork belly, marinated in gochujang and roasted into soothing unctuousness, is accompanied by a perky shredded carrot kimchee. Again simple, but executed at a level of precision that will have you fighting over who gets the last mouthful.

Even a salad that looked a little underwhelming proved to pack an intensely satisfying flavour punch from the fresh herbs, lemongrass, tamarind, and green papaya running through it. I had to tussle with my teenager. For vegetables.

The current COVID crisis may be playing havoc with our lives and our choices, but the early arrival of JuJu’s brought a couple of hours of joy to my deck this week. If you’re in the mood for tiki—or just want to be in the tiki mood—you will want to give this drink shack a shot.


Read more in our Food and Drink section.

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May 15, 2020