The Las Vegas Strip once again has a tiki bar. Now the fifth bar of its kind in Las Vegas, the Golden Monkey Tiki Lounge at Resorts World has all the trappings of an island-inspired bar — with fish-faced mugs, cocktail umbrellas, a wide selection of rum, floral leis, and beachy decor.
“We felt that this has always been a very vibrant lounge,” says director of beverage and cocktails Will Cahow, motioning around what used to be the Genting Palace Lounge. “We wanted to build buzz and really bring guests something that’s warm and welcoming. And a change in scenery is what we thought was best.” That meant blocking off the entry from the lounge into the Genting Palace restaurant — which can now be accessed directly around the corner. Cahow says that the proximity to the delicate interior of the fine-dining restaurant may have been intimidating for anyone looking to just grab a drink. And so the area that used to give way to the Cantonese restaurant now displays surfboards, decked in leis and framed in front of bamboo.
The lounge already came with a bold color palette of greens and blues and velvety reds. Even the lounge chairs were upholstered in patterns of palm fronds and butterflies. The tiled shelving is now filled with tiki mugs, the bar is stocked with about 50 types of rum, and the tables are covered in shiny pineapples and bowls of seashells. And then there are the cocktails. With 20 drinks on the menu, it’s one of the more robust ones at the resort. Drinks include the Feelin’ Coconutty, a rum drink with a purple ube-coconut syrup, the One Way Ticket, with rum, passionfruit liqueur, and pineapple — all set on fire. And the Fire Dancer, so-named for the heat from a spicy mango syrup, comes in an innocent-looking green tiki mug with a smiling face. The lounge also has all the traditional tiki staples: mai tais, jungle birds, and rum runners.
Cahow himself is a fan of tiki, citing prominent tiki bars across the country that he’s frequented. “Tiki has absolutely become a much more vibrant and up-and-coming space in mixology and craft cocktails bar,” he says. “With only two other prominent tiki bars in Las Vegas, I think we had an opportunity to bring out one more.” The Golden Monkey is more polished and glitzy than the divey Frankie’s Tiki Room downtown. And it’s more restrained in decor than the all-hours spectacle that is the Golden Tiki in Chinatown. Cahow insists that the Golden Monkey, which takes its name from the golden monkey statue that has sat on the bar since the venue opened in 2021, shares no association with the similarly named Golden Tiki. “We want to be a little different,” he says. The bar has touches of tiki throughout — a shrunken head here, a tiki mask there — but the retheming feels more like a restaurant lounge with tiki decorations on the wall than some of the full-fledged tiki bars found off-Strip.
Las Vegas has a storied past with tiki. In 1960, the Aku Aku opened at the Stardust Resort and Casino. Two years later, Don the Beachcomber, who is largely credited with laying the foundation for the tiki bar craze, opened an eponymous tiki bar at the Sahara Las Vegas. By the ‘80s, both tiki bars had closed. In 2001, the Venetian Resort tried to revive tiki with the Taboo Cove, but the bar closed just four years later. And in 2009, Trader Vic’s inside the Miracle Mile Shops closed — but that Polynesian restaurant lacked the woven bamboo, torches, and floral sarongs that elevated its earlier incarnations firmly into tikidom. Today, Las Vegas also has tiki bars like the Italian restaurant backyard, Tiki di Amore and the tiki-meets-punk rock bar the Red Dwarf. Cahow says he’s aware of conversations that continue to be had about colonization and the appropriation of Polynesian culture as they relate to tiki bars. “We want to be as sensitive and comforting as we can be,” he says. “It’s all about a great experience for the guests and bringing in a tropical oasis and vacation mode.”
From 5 p.m. to 2 p.m. the tiki lounge lights are down and a medley of different music plays, anything that inspires the feeling of vacation, explains Cahow. The drinks are all about $16 and most can be prepared punch-bowl style for sharing with groups of up to four people, for about $50. The Golden Monkey Tiki Lounge is open now at Resorts World Las Vegas and can be accessed from the Hilton lobby.