The Fog Cutter. The Hurricane. The Chief Lapu Lapu. The Mai Tai.
These are some of the drinks that have defined the world of “tiki,” the colorful, cheerful, retro culture that for almost 100 years has paid tribute to a romantic notion of Polynesia.
But what these drinks all have in common is something from a world away: rum.
For years, the worlds of Caribbean rum and tiki have been connected; the fruit of the sugarcane fields of the West Indies was always the perfect fuel for the “exotic” drinks that first began with Don the Beachcomber.
And tiki is in the midst of a resurgence, as craft cocktail culture and appreciation for fine rums have reemerged — often finding a meeting point in newly-launched tiki outposts.
So it’s only natural, then, that a high-level tiki bar should have found its way to the Caribbean.
Enter Breakers Roar, the newest watering hole in St Croix, which began life last October on the corner of the boardwalk in Christiansted and now, happily, is open again as the USVI reopens.
Breakers Roar, set in the ground floor of the King Christian Hotel (which is itself in the process of being transformed by a California-based group), is a beautiful, woody homage both to the old maritime age of the Caribbean and the mystery and wonder of tiki culture.
It’s no surprise that there’s a long list of artisanal cocktails, joined by a rum list that is among the best in the US Virgin Islands.
There’s a nice selection of local Cruzans, standouts from companies like Saint Lucia Distillers and Mount Gay and a portfolio of rums from the increasingly popular Plantation, among others.
Of course, the pandemic has changed things, and that means a slightly different, but equally authentic tiki experience right at the water’s edge.
“We’re so happy to be open,” Breakers Roar General Manager Patrick Johnson told Caribbean Journal. “We want to provide the community with a bit of normalcy and pleasantness. But we of course fully understand and support the health and safety precautions put in place by the CDC to provide a safe, relaxing environment.”
So Breaker’s Roar is indeed open again, for both outdoor and indoor (socially-distanced, of course) drinks and dinner (along with takeout and curbside drive-through).
It’s the latter that is just as big a draw, though, thanks to the culinary talents of St Croix’s buzziest chef — Digby Stridiron, whose creative Asian-Caribbean fusion menu ranges from kimchi queso and chips to jerk shrimp eggrolls and pupu platters.
Stridiron, who has been working with My Brothers Workshop, along with World Central Kitchen, to help feed needy Virgin Islanders in the last few months, said he and his team had been working hard with local farmers and purveyors “to not only make delicious drinks and food but to ensure everyone’s safety.”
“I expect there to be more changes as the months pass but it will be a growing experience with our community,” he said.
For now, Breaker’s Roar is what tiki has always sought to be: lively, escapist, romantic; the sort of cheeky, breezy fun that’s a recipe for what we all need right now.
Of course, there’s one cocktail on the list that no tiki bar based in the US Virgin Islands could be without.
It’s Don Q Crystal Rum, all-spice dram, green chartreuse, pineapple juice, coconut, fresh lime juice and basil.
And you might recognize its name: the Moko Jumbie.
For more, visit Breaker’s Roar.