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The Art of Tiki Tabu

Artist Misha Kahn ups the celebratory ante for the LES rooftop bar's reopening

by David Graver
on 25 May 2016

A New York City summer isn't complete without a few romps on rooftop bars. After a successful pop-up launch last summer—that was so well-received it was extended well into the winterTiki Tabu at SIXTY LES is back and better than ever. Everything we loved about it last summer remains intact: stunning views, outdoor seating in addition to covered seating for rainy days, and fun, clever class cocktails. Only, this year, new cocktails and an additional partnership are making it even better. As for the former, Ivo Diaz, previously of The Nomad, delivers a menu of classics and signatures fit for the season. Regarding the latter, Artsy, as part of their #ArtsyProjects series in collaboration with SIXTY, commissioned artist Misha Kahn to step in and make the space truly celebratory.

Kahn's impact is felt upon entrance. The artist created unique tropically-theme wallpapers for the space, and peppered the already exotic furniture with planters and very large hand-blown lava lamps. He also the lent the floor a polychromatic treatment. As for how inspiration struck after Artsy invited him to lend his energy and artwork to the space, he shares: "I love a rooftop bar, and always want to be outdoors—so I wanted to keep it really breezy and tropical feeling. Sometimes tiki inspiration can head in a very moody cave direction, so this was a different take I suppose." Kahn's wall-paper palate makes for an additional brightness to the space, while the lava-lamps further the air of eccentricity.

"When tiki bars were really coming into their own in the '50s it was a place where people could feel like they had different rules, it felt so exotic that it was permission to behave a bit looser," Kahn continues. "I'm not sure New Yorkers in 2016 need any kind of permission to 'misbehave'—but I do think the bar sets such a different tone, it's so light hearted and whimsical I think it will carry on that tiki attitude by letting people step outside their usual selves for a moment." Kahn's installation work will remain up through September.

While the decor resonates with the vibe, the new drinks are also on par. In fact, Diaz crafted some highly unique cocktails. On the menu, one will find the three-rum "Jungle Bird" with gets finished off with fresh pineapple juice and Campari. For lovers of spice, the "Polynesian Picante" features tequila infused with fresh ginger. And of course, coladas and daiquiris play their part—because isn't that where one's mind goes on sweaty summer day in the city? And for those looking to eat, Tiki Bites are also served, including sushi, burgers and chicken wings.

Tiki Tabu is now open every day from noon 'til late, at SIXTY LES, 190 Allen Street, NYC.

Images courtesy of SIXTY LES

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