cocktails NUI NUI


The first Tiki bar appeared in 1934 when Donn Beach (born Earnest Raymond Beaumont Gantt) opened the Polynesian-themed restaurant Don the Beachcomber in Hollywood.

This is where he singlehandedly created the tropical drink genre, including some of the more memorable exotic cocktails such as the Scorpion and the Zombie. 

Beach was the first to mix flavored syrups and fresh fruit juices with rum, a readily available and cheap post-Prohibiton alcohol. These drinks were originally called “Rhum Rhapsodies” and made the restaurant a hot spot for Hollywood elite from the 1940s well into the 1960s.

Tiki drinks frequently have a bad reputation when it comes to flavor and complexity. But the Nui Nui cocktail proves that even a tropical drink can offer an intricate blend of tastes.

Originally known as the Pupule (Hawaiian for crazy), the Nui Nui was one of Beach’s original creations in the 1930s and seems to have been fairly exclusive to his restaurant and other haunts.


  • 2 oz. Ron Matusalem Platino rum
  • ½ oz. fresh lime juice
  • ½ oz. orange juice
  • ¼ oz. cinnamon vanilla syrup*
  • 1 oz. allspice dram
  • Dash Angostura bitters

*Cinnamon vanilla syrup

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 vanilla beans, split

nui nui

Put ingredients in a shaker, add ice and shake, shake, shake. Pour into a tall glass over crushed ice. Sink an orange peel into the drink with peel hanging over the edge of the glass as a garnish.

cinnamon vanilla syrup

Put ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for five minutes. Turn off heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain through a mesh strainer into a jar. Syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Photos by Emily Maxwell