We had the honor of attending the newly revamped Adrift Tiki Lounge on South Broadway last weekend to try their new menu and see the updated interior that we were promised would keep the Tiki theme intact. Marketing Director Basha Cohen talks about Adrift's newly enhanced authenticity, "Unlike kitsch, Tiki-tacky bars, Adrift is focused on authenticity, a welcoming spirit and an invitation to escape. The island speakeasy is set in a rich backdrop of starry night, majestic Tiki totems, bamboo walls, twine, decorative blowfish lighting, and a back patio fire pit, all evoking the spirit of a Polynesian lifestyle, with a thoroughly modern twist."
The new interior did keep much of the previous space's charm and tropical flair and we felt transported far off of Denver's busy Broadway. New owners Paul Tamburello (of Little Man Ice Cream) and Loren Martinez have been interested in bringing an immersive dining experience to Denver for some time and are excited to explore and share the mystery of Polynesian culture with Denver diners through their new restaurant. And knowing Tamburello's other projects, we can count on this one to be progressive and expansive as well. Adding to the authenticity of it all, at the culinary helm is native Hawaiian Chef, Shaun Motata. We were excited to dive deeper and try a couple of cocktails and the exotic flavors off the food menu.
The menu consists of small plates, a Hawaiian mix plate with choice of protein, Pu Pu Platters and three burgers. We were surprised the revamp didn't bring forth a larger menu and was focused more on burgers than on fish dishes. We didn't try any of the burgers, but stuck with what we thought were the most authentically Hawaiian/Polynesian dishes like the Guava glazed ribs, Ahi Tuna Poke, and an Miso butternut soup. All of these starters were delicious and had subtle hints of tropical fruits and/or exotic spices and garnished with fresh herbs. We especially loved the volcano-esque presentation of the Ahi Tuna Poke. For the main course we went with the Hawaiian mix plate with chicken, pork and tofu were the other options, and got a traditional taste of the Island.
The cocktails were what stood out and set Adrift apart as a destination for us. The list of cocktails was double in size of the food, which was surprising but also kept it more of a Tiki Bar/Lounge than restaurant, which it was never known as anyway. The popular Tiki cocktails were all listed, however their ingredients were not, and as we discovered by asking, were not quite what we American's are used to. They are considering reprinting the menu with more ingredients but originally chose not to list them to maintain the mystery of Polynesian culture as was customary in the original Tiki bars from the late 30s. Nonetheless, they were all beautiful, liquor-laden and interesting.
As we enjoyed our food and our beverages and chatted with the staff, "Tropical Time" seemed to set in as we stayed nearly three hours! The drinks, presentation and ambiance truly transported us and proved to (still) be the reasons to come to Adrift. However, we could tell it has been revitalized with a bit more class, culture and room to grow that it didn't have previously.