Austin may be hundreds of miles away from the Pacific Ccean, but a new Warehouse District bar is bringing island vibes to the landlocked city. On May 15, The Lost Lei dove into 117 W. Fourth St., Ste. 101A with tiki drinks and a collection of 68 international rums.
Owner and general manager Derik Cooper tells CultureMap that he wanted to create a spot that was “unique and different for not only tikiphiles, but for young executives.” Although the bar does have some tropical touches like a thatched sub-roof above the bar, Cooper says the team was not trying to recreate the traditional midcentury look.
Similarly, the drink menu offers a combination of classics like the the Zombie, El Diablo, Mai Tai, and Fog Cutter, along with some reworked standbys. The Lost Lei’s version of the The Vicious Virgin, for example, trades the traditional rum for peach vodka.
Cooper says the initial lineup of drinks was intentionally kept small to help his staff not get “murdered in the first couple of weeks.” The team will be slowly introducing 10 more choices, along with a few shareable group drinks. The rum selection will also increase to 150 bottles.
Although Cooper says that the initial reaction to the bar has been positive, there has been some blowback from online tiki fandoms, especially about the use of mugs that are similar to those used at Chicago’s Three Dots and a Dash.
“We knew that traditional tikiphiles may be a little harsher on us,” Cooper says, adding that he has appreciated the feedback. However, he says the overall reception has been positive.
Qualms from online tiki forums or not, the bar will like find a footing with its intended younger demographic, who can’t seem to get enough of beachy bars, a trend that shows no signs of abating with newcomers like Tiki Tatsu-Ya, set to enter the scene later in 2019.
The $7 cocktails offered until 7 pm during its Wednesday through Sunday happy hour will no-doubt win over a few guests, too.