Ventiki Lounge & Lanai
701 E. Main St., Ventura
For the first time in eight years, I visited Disneyland. Memories of sore feet, long lines and overpriced everything came flooding back — but, as it turned out, I was going with a first timer so there was a bit of excitement in the air.
One memory that I had tried my best to rid myself of was the painful experience known as the Enchanted Tiki Room. There are no cocktails in the Enchanted Tiki Room, only singing parrots and kitschy, but not in a good way, décor. When you’re stuck in a room for 20 minutes with clanking animatronics belting out earworm tunes from the 1960s, a drink is what you need.
Thankfully, right here in Ventura, the Tiki vibe that Walt himself had dreamt of has reached its potential. Ventiki Lounge & Lanai offers up strong cocktails, kitschy (in a good way) décor and, most importantly, no singing birds.
Ventiki’s cocktail menu is separated into two categories: classic cocktails featuring the famous (or infamous) Mai Tai — made with real fruit juice at Ventiki, not the canned stuff, and a blend of Platino and Gold rums, Orgeat orange curacao and lime juice with a dark rum float, alongside other classics with fun names such as the Suffering Bastard and the Singapore Sling.
In the modern drinks section, a slew of original cocktails like the so-called Voodoo Temptress of the Seven Pleasures with Sailor Jerry spiced rum, cherry rum, Maraschino liqueur, bitters and pineapple juice.
As much as I loathe the songs of the Enchanted Tiki Room, I take great pleasure whenever someone orders the Jet Pilot (a blend of gold rum, Whalers dark rum, Hamilton 151, lime, grapefruit and a syrup known as Black Hawk 113) at Ventiki. The lights suddenly alternate between red, white and blue as the theme from Top Gun follows the cocktail to its owner.
Sure, Ventura isn’t Disneyland, but magic can be had at Ventiki. If you want singing birds, bring your iPod and some headphones.
Chris O’Neal survived Disneyland but it took several cocktails to recover. Follow him on Instagram @atchrisoneal.