Don the Beachcomber

There are few things I enjoy more than a Mai Tai. So when I was in Los Angeles last week for the International Motorcycle Show, I took it upon myself to visit Don the Beachcomber's, what some consider the birthplace of the tropical cocktail.

Established by Donn Beach, who according to Wikipedia "is the founding father of tiki restaurants, bars and nightclubs," Don the Beachcomber's has been in business since 1934. Located on the Pacific Coast Highway near Huntington Beach, Don's is everything you'd imagine it to be; a classic post-war Tiki bar full of bamboo, wicker and strong drink.


A well lit counter top runs the length of the Dagger Bar, while small dining tables and a palm tree cabana fill the remainder of the space. An old black and white television protrudes from the wall above the bar, on which Endless Summer plays around the clock. The wall behind the bar, full of intoxicants and their accouterments, was also home to a variety of Tiki mugs, two of which followed me home.

In an adjacent room, more than fifty blowfish lamps hung from the ceiling. Apparently made somewhere in the Midwest, these lamps came in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. This red one was my favorite. According to the bartender, this room will soon become the 'Blowfish Bar.' Go figure.

This room was once an outdoor patio, but has since been converted into a greenhouse. An indoor waterfall makes up most of the back wall, while a small cabana-style bar occupies the opposite end of the room. A little deck overlooks the greenhouse, but is now overgrown with tropical plants following a fatal fall that occurred sometime in the late 1960's.

This is Joe. He and I had one too many Mai Tais. This is Joe's mug, the 'Vicious Virgin.' She cost $35 but came with a free drink. I'd recommend the Zombie. You're only allowed two after all :)

While the origin of the Mai Tai may still be a mystery, I can tell you this; Don's didn't disappoint. So if you find yourself in So-Cal with money to blow and and a taste for something tropical, head to Don the Beachcomber's. You'll go home happy.

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