Time to tiki at inaugural cocktail competition

Bartenders will battle it out to be top of the Tiki pole. (iStock)
(ze / Getty Images/iStockphoto)

As the tiki cocktail craze continues to heat up in San Diego, locals are enjoying the rebirth of classic cocktails and the openings of tiki bars around the city. Exciting news is here for those loyal fans who want to see their favorite bartenders in action - the inaugural Tiki Cocktail Competition is premiering on Monday, Aug. 14 at Level Four atop Hotel Palomar.

Organized by Nikki Siglin of Cutwater Spirits and Liza Hoar, beverage manager of Curadero and Level Four, the competition runs from 1-6 p.m. and brings in talent from all around San Diego. Those in attendance will get to sample cocktails and vote on their favorites while munching on goodies from a Curadero taco cart, and swaying to tunes by DJ Echo Dafunk.

Bar teams competing in the Tiki Cocktail Competition include:

  • Bar by Red Door
  • Campfire
  • CoinOp Downtown
  • CoinOp North Park
  • Curadero
  • Grass Skirt
  • Kettner Exchange
  • Sycamore Den
  • Tamarindo
  • The Compass

Look out for local bartenders on a lineup that will include Adam Lockridge, Casey Randazzo, Jesse Ross, Sway, Snow Leopard, Mondo, and Nolan and Nina from Curadero.

PACIFIC recently spoke with Siglin and and Hoar to get the inside scoop about the inaugural event.

PACIFIC: How did the idea come up for a Tiki Cocktail Competition?

NIKKI SIGLIN: Liza and I collaborated on this together. We wanted to get a bunch of our industry friends together for a lighthearted competition.

How were teams chosen?

SIGLIN: I’ve been in this industry a long time. I reached out to talented friends who I thought may be interested. I think I hooked most of them with pool party with a splash of competition.

Tiki Cocktail Competition

When: Monday, Aug. 14

Where: Level Four Pool Deck + Lounge, 4th floor of Hotel Palomar at 1047 Fifth Ave., downtown

Cost: Free and open to the public

Info: 619.515.3000 or

Is there a schedule of times bartenders are competing during the event’s time frame?

SIGLIN: One to 2 p.m. will be a social hour. Then 2 to 3 p.m. will be competition for judges and for the fan favorite. The top two teams move to the final round.

How does the voting work?

SIGLIN: There are only two rounds. The first round will be 100% blind tasting. The judges won’t even get to read what ingredients are in the cocktail. It’s based strictly on taste and presentation. The second round is composed of the two teams that make it past the first round. They will need to make a new creation on the spot in front of the judges, who will score their drink based on presentation, personality and taste. The winner gets bragging rights.

Speaking of taste, any secrets to what is being made?

SIGLIN: I have no idea, and I think that’s the way it should be!

What’s your favorite Tiki cocktail?

LIZA HOAR: Painkiller.

SIGLIN: Classic daiquiri made with Cutwater’s 3 Sheets Spiced Rum.

Why is the Tiki cocktail the ultimate summer sipper?

HOAR: Who doesn’t love a great Tiki drink poolside during summer? Tiki cocktails are so playful and fun and isn’t that what summer is all about?

With 18 years in the restaurant and beverage industry and more than 850 reviews under her belt, Laurie Delk is a one-stop guide to all things craft beer, wine and spirits. You can follow Delk on Twitter @lauriedelklife or Instagram @sandiegobeer. Send ideas for featured drinks to