The Pinnacle Guide

KIKI LOUNGE

Isle of Man, UK

Upgrading tiki to the 21st century, Kiki Lounge is a vibrant tropical-meets-pop-culture cocktail oasis on an often not-so-tropical island in the Irish Sea.

Reservations recommended
Walk-ins welcome
Not an accessible venue

AREAS OF EXCELLENCE

AREAS OF EXCELLENCE

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ENVIRONMENTAL ENDEAVOURS

Using island based suppliers is important to the team at Kiki Lounge as part of their wider goal to support the local economy and grow the size of the hospitality industry on the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man is the only whole nation to have UNESCO Biosphere status, so the quality and biodiversity is evident, but of course seasonal, and so Kiki Lounge works hard to maximise this.

DETAILS OF NOTE

Kiki Lounge’s physical menu is an evolving zine, a vibrant mix of ideas, expressionism, and art that has a limited run of 1000 copies each time. Once a run of a menu-zine is gone, it’s gone. The menu will then be completely revised: from cocktails, articles, content – everything. The bar works closely with local charity ‘Isle of Pride’ which works with the LGBTQIA+ community for their pride festival and events, and with the local community to provide a safe spaces programme, and training courses for employers and employees.

The Pinnacle Guide

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Selling escapism, pop-culture and cocktails, Kiki Lounge started off as a basement bar in 2020 and was met with so much success it was able to relocate to its current prime location in the city’s North Quay. With its deliberate design contrast to the moodier island outside, the bar makes use of traditional nods to its tropical theme; glass floats hang from the ceiling, tropical colours are given small moments to shine, such as the tiles around the bar front, and elements of bamboo and thatch tie the design aesthetic together. But this is no typical tiki bar, with the building’s original features, such as the neo-gothic windows and stone frontage, making themselves known among elements from 80’s and 90’s pop-culture. Guests can spot a disco helmet, a Jar Jar Binks action figure, signed Spice Girls pictures, My Little Pony and a framed picture of Tom Cruise in Cocktail.

Kiki’s new venue now offers guests the chance to enjoy the space by daylight in the afternoon, where it feels more like a funky pub, while neon lights transform it come sun set, bouncing off the corrugated steel wall and setting the scene for a technicolour disco-esque bar. A charity shop find, a large grandfather cabinet, is the centrepiece of Kiki Lounge’s back bar, and holds a large chunk of the spirit collection on display. 

Cocktails are grounded in the classics, with drinks receiving a tropical makeover from the team in both taste and presentation. Bartenders also have the freedom to create new drinks, but with the same parameters that they must taste and look tropical, ensuring everything is in the bar’s house style. Fire and theatrics fit that bill and therefore have a happy home at Kiki Lounge. 

In addition to cinnamon and fire, the bar boasts a soundtrack that is bold and enjoyable, but also dynamic and reflective of the time of day. Funk, disco, soul and world music make up most of the playlists while the occasional curveball of a tune lands somewhere between the 90’s and Studio 54. 

For a venue intended to be a sunny escape, service is paramount and all guests find they are made to feel at-ease immediately with a welcome drink, prepared daily by one of the team there. That attention to detail is carried right through service, from drink recommendations to genuine interactions and finishes with the bill presented inside Kiki’s visitors’ book. Guests from around the world have jotted down messages, feedback and a smattering of crude drawings. Tourists will also receive a postcard filled with recommendations for their stay on the island, a point the bar makes to support local business and hospitality.

Being on a small island is not without its limitations and there’s forward-thinking problem-solving going on behind the scenes. After almost a year of unsuccessful searching for UK-based suppliers of directionally frozen block ice willing to transport product to the Isle of Man, Kiki Lounge have recently joined forces with island-based business selling ice sculptures. Whilst this business is so-far unable to provide block ice in appropriately cut shapes for cocktails, the bar has invested in an industrial band saw so they can carve their own – with a view to start supplying other local hospitality businesses too.

Another challenge faced is staffing – as the only cocktail-centric venue on the Isle of Man, fostering a community of like-minded hospitality professionals is difficult and the talent pool is limited. To address this, the team have introduced the “Industry Baby” scheme, which is aimed at cultivating a sense of camaraderie and collaboration amongst all hospitality venues on the island, and features events, training sessions and even a cocktail competition. For Kiki Lounge’s team, there are comprehensive career development plans in place and coaching sessions led by the co-founder, who has become a qualified coach for this purpose. 

"Receiving the postcard packed with local recommendations was a gesture of genuine kindness and thoughtfulness. It demonstrates their dedication to enhancing their guests experience beyond just visiting their bar."

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