Bars / New York / Restaurants/Bars

The Polynesian

I love a theme. I also love the whole mid-century era and the decor that goes along with it. When the theme is tiki, it means mid-century vibes are right there with it, so I was very happy to check out The Polynesian last weekend before theater.

I was nervous about this spot. It’s in the Times Square area, which does not usually bode well for discovering quality bars. Also theme bars (especially theme bars in Midtown) can be a little…cheesy. But then I kept hearing good things about this spot and decided I needed to check it out. Turns out, I liked it…then again, it’s part of Major Food Group, so I should have expected as much.

They went ALL IN with this theme. Every large format cocktail is served inside a very on-brand vessel, like a giant conch shell. Every employee is wearing Hawaiian print. There is rattan everywhere. And yet, it’s classy. Maybe it’s because the employees clearly choose their own clothes – it’s all Hawaiian print, but none of it’s matching. Or maybe it’s because the decor is all high end fabrics and flooring. Or maybe it’s because these are very high quality drinks. Whatever it is, it works.

The ceiling

This bar is situated in a hotel but feels nothing like a hotel bar. There’s also a nice roof area – always a plus. And the drinks? They’re great, strong, and expensive.

We didn’t eat but noticed some good bar snacks on the menu. We, instead, focused just on drinks. My beau ordered the Vaya Kon Tiki (r(h)ums infused with coconut african redbush tea, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne coconut cream and tropical juices). This is what you think of when you think of a tiki cocktail. A little too sweet for my taste, but what a showstopper. I started with the Rita Hayworth (tequila infused with pineapple and sage, honey, chartreuse and lime) and then moved to the Sao Feng (Japanese whisky, rum infused with chai and mint tea, cinnamon and bitters). I really enjoyed both. I loved the sage peeking through the background of the first cocktail and the cinnamon in the second makes me think it would be ideal around holiday time. You’ll notice I chose two of the only non-rum drinks…because I’m not a huge rum fan, even though it’s the primary tiki spirit. Also, there was serious attention to detail paid. All garnishes and accoutrements were beautiful, from the freeze dried pineapple slice, to the flaming lemon, to the stamped ice cube, to the unique swizzle sticks.

If you’re in the Times Square area, this should be high on your list for bars to visit. Dare I say it could even be a reason to go to this dreaded part of town?

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