The so-called SoCal lifestyle is often characterized by a distinct form of faux-fantasy. In our backlot of a city, where we bleach our hair and import our palm trees, you’ll find sunny escapism in blatant artifice. It may come as no surprise, then, that when Clifford Clinton debuted the original Pacific Seas bar and lounge in 1932, it was a hit among Los Angelenos looking for a getaway. Now, the doors are reopening and giving modern-day patrons that very same thrill. Located on the top floor of Clifton’s Cafeteria, the latest revival project from prolific restaurateur Andrew Meieran commemorates a time, a place, and a state of mind.
Tiki came into fashion following World War II, in part due to the rise of travel and a newfound fascination with the exoticism of Hawaii, the latest addition to the United States. Nationwide preoccupation with wooden torches and colorful, umbrella-dotted rum drinks persisted up until the late ‘60s before eventually phasing out of mainstream culture. In recent years, tiki has made a comeback among kitsch and retro aficionados. Boasting curiosities in every corner, Meieran’s reimagining is sure to serve as a veritable museum for the diehards.
Unlike your typical tiki dive bar, Pacific Seas retains the same speakeasy vibe, upscale ambience, and high-production value that marks The Edison and Clifton’s, Meieran’s other historically-informed downtown properties. Patrons are greeted by an art deco-style map mural before entering a completely immersive scene. Thatched roofs, bamboo fixtures, and dimly-lit lanterns are regular motifs throughout the space, while a plethora of nautical-themed antiques and tiki memorabilia from Bahooka, Trader Vic’s, and the original Pacific Seas occupy every nook and cranny. Custom murals and carved tiki adorn the walls.
Mixology plays a huge part in the popularity of the tiki bar, and at Pacific Seas, you’ll be sure to find every tiki cocktail staple. Fog Cutters, Mai Tais, Singapore Slings, and communal punch bowls are crafted and served to patrons from behind the hull of an enormous, boat-shaped bar. The menu also features Polynesian-inspired bites, such as pu pu platters, as well as over 60 brands of rum from all throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. Enjoy your drink next to the ship, underneath a hut, by the live music stage, or simply head toward the couches.
Given the buzz, Pacific Seas has surely been on every urban adventurer’s radar well before its soft opening in November. Now, downtown finally has a breathtaking tiki bar to call its own, and judging from the caliber of its curation, it’s looking to be the most definitive in Los Angeles. There’s a lot to explore here, so dress your best and prepare to set sail.
Written by Sophie He
Photographed by Eric Cacioppo