It’s tiki time in Detroit

A new tropical drink bar opens in Southwest, and next week the annual tiki art sale returns to Chin’s in Livonia

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

As someone who’s been known to drive a few miles out of the way while traveling to hit up an out-of-state tiki lounge, I wasted no time getting to Mutiny, a tropical drink haven in southwest Detroit.

The Detroit Optimist Society opened this new hangout — formerly the neighborhood watering hole VL Bar — just a few weeks ago. This group is the parent company of hot spots such as Sugar House, Wright & Company, the Peterboro and others. Mutiny, however, seems to be taking a more casual approach than those businesses, which are known for craft cocktails.

The delightfully dark, cozy bar is decked out with the expected: nautical netting on the ceiling, a grass hut look to the bar, lots of fake flower leis and bamboo furniture. Memorabilia from famed tiki bars of the past are framed and hung on the wall.

Mutiny offers a spin on classic drinks like the Mai Tai called a Rye Tai, mixed with Lot 40 Rye whiskey instead of rum, and a Harvey Wallbanger prepared with Galliano liqueur, orange, lime and gin in place of vodka.

Topping the cocktail list — which is priced $7-$11 — the Monkey Punch caught my eye because it’s made with Monkey Shoulder Scotch, Nicaraguan rum, passion fruit, lime and grapefruit. It’s served in a chalice made of coconut with a banana garnish.

There’s also a scorpion bowl, a popular tropical drink meant for at least two people and is often served on fire. At the Mutiny, theirs is loaded up with Sailor Jerry rum, Hennessy VS cognac, Luxardo amaretto and orange, and costs $24.

The Southwest spot also has a few frozen drink machines — remember that next summer — and a selection of beers.

Mutiny Bar, 4654 Vernor in Detroit, has no kitchen, but welcomes carryout from nearby restaurants. It is open 5 p.m.-midnight Wed.-Thurs. and Sun. and 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Fri.-Sat. Call (313) 406-4043.

For more tiki fun, the annual tiki holiday show and sale is Dec. 9 at Chin’s Chop Suey restaurant and bar, 28205 Plymouth in Livonia. This Cantonese restaurant is one of the area’s few places to absorb that 1960s tiki vibe. Some of the statues from Detroit’s long-closed Chin tiki restaurant stand at Chin’s in Livonia.

This Polynesian party has been going on there for more than a decade. Browse original artwork, vintage tiki collectibles and other kitsch while sipping tropical drinks and listening to tunes spun by rockabilly DJ Del Villarreal.

The party, noon-10 p.m., takes up half the restaurant and the other half remains open for dining in, so stay for a plate of Almond Boneless Chicken. Call Chin’s at (734) 421-1627.

Twitter: @melodybaetens