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Opened in 1961
Defunct tiki not included,
distances are as the crow flies.
text, 164, 172-173
Jun 25, 2008
Jun 26, 2007
Nov 11, 2006
Looking up towards the bar at Tiki-Ti in Los Angeles
June 2008, photo by Slacks Ferret
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This famous little bar is a Los Angeles institution—opened in 1961 by Ray Buhen, it is now owned and operated by Ray's son Mike Buhen and grandson Mike Buhen, Jr.
The Tiki-Ti drink menu has over 80 drinks, but picking one can feel a little bit like picking a race horse—the menu is divided into sections for the base alcohols, but beyond that, it's just a list of colorful names. These recipes are closely guarded family secrets. There are plenty of classic cocktails on the menu, but many of the drinks are the creation of Ray or his son or grandson. One of Ray's creations, Blood & Sand, is named for the Tyrone Power bullfighting film by the same name, and as it is being mixed the bar's patrons call out "Toro, Toro!" Mike or Mike will happily take the time to ask you a few questions and guide you to a drink you're sure to like.
On Wednesdays, a tribute is made to Ray—a bell is rung five times, and the whole bar stops what they're doing to toast to Ray.
For decades, Tiki-Ti was owner-operated, with no employees, making it one of the very few places in California that could allow smoking. In June 2015, the Buhens hired their very first employee, longtime regular Greg Bansuelo, to help behind the bar. Smoking is no longer permitted at Tiki-Ti.
The Buhens close the bar when they go on vacation; be sure to check the Tiki-Ti website's calendar to make sure they are open before you stop by. Tiki-Ti is extremely small (just 12 barstools and a small handful of tables), and is incredibly popular—if you don't like crowds, be sure to get there right as it opens, preferably on a Wednesday. Be sure to bring plenty cash—they don't accept credit cards.
How to find it:
Tiki-Ti is in a small, free-standing building on the north side of Sunset Blvd, just past where Sunset merges with Hollywood Blvd. It is between El Chavo restaurant and the former KCET studios.
There is free parking available on the street in the neighborhood. Some folks used to park in the lot directly across the street, but this is no longer advised.