A modern tiki experience in St. Thomas, USVI
The Tiki God Rum Punch I just finished went down too easy. While I was contemplating my next drink I ordered a round of Jolly Rancher shooters called the Gods R Crazy. I could get a Tiki God Rum Punch refill and save two dollars or move on to a Booty Call. What would you do?
After giving you a quick history lesson in tiki over the past week I thought it only fitting to tell you about one of those modern interpretations I’ve been speaking so high about. One of my new favorites is Duffy’s Love Shack in Red Hook, St. Thomas the US Virgin Islands.
What I like most about Duffy’s is the relaxed, we don’t take ourselves too seriously vibe that they have going on. The bar and restaurant started in an alleyway in Charlotte Amalie in 1995 until Hurricane Marilyn put a sailboat on top of the place that same year. Today Duffy’s sits in a parking lot in Red Hook. No, it’s not a restaurant with a parking lot around it for their patron’s cars. It’s more like they built a place in the middle of the parking lot and displaced a bunch of cars. Somehow, someway, they’ve made this place cooler than being on the beach.
The food that comes out of the small kitchen is creative and simple with an island flair. The staff is crazy fun and upbeat but the drinks are the highlight. Every specialty drink comes with it’s own unique tiki cup. Every time you order a drink or food or just because, a staff member gives you a sticker, a lei a flag or something that is wacky and fun. The longer you sit and drink at Duffy’s the more crap you will have hung, stuck or placed in front of you. These items tend to break the ice with your neighbors causing people not only to talk to each other but often to take pictures of each other as well.
Duffy’s is smart in that while their drink prices are not cheap, they do contain a fair amount of alcohol. Furthermore, once you invest in the glass, they refill it for two dollars less keeping you sitting at the bar a little longer in order to take advantage of the ‘discounted’ $6 to 7 drinks. Marketing at it’s finest! Normally, this approach would grate me the wrong way but Duffy’s pulls it off with relaxed grace.
Duffy’s is what is right about the renewed interest in modern tiki. They’ve re-imagined a host of new drinks, use fresh quality ingredients, make sure everyone is having fun and sell you the escapism you are looking for. Honestly that part isn’t hard since you are sitting on a barstool in St. Thomas anyway but you get what I’m saying.
If you visit St. Thomas either on a cruise, or as a destination to any of the Virgin Islands, I recommend you consider making the trip to Duffy’s. Even if you don’t eat there, you’ll enjoy the drinks, the decor (the tin shark on the wall is fun) and the friendly people who work there make Duffy’s a totally cool place to chill for a day in the islands.