Photos: Paradise Found 

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Ruta Smith
From a time warp oasis to a Caribbean rum bar — Charleston is riding a tropical tidal wave by Mary Scott Hardaway Read more here »
Courtesy National Historic Register
Mai Kai Restaurant, founded in 1956 in Fort Lauderdale, is one of the og tiki bars Read more here »
Courtesy National Historic Register
There are five critical elements to tiki: contrast, darkness, water, gemutlichkeit, and escape. Pictured: Mai Kai Restaurant Read more here »
Ruta Smith
"The cult of tiki possesses a very specific milieu." Read more here »
Ruta Smith
"Hawaiian shirt clad bartenders shake up Scorpions and Zombies and Mai Tais while Exotica plays in the background." Read more here »
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Ruta Smith
"Especially in the lounge area, you lose time," said South Seas general manager and beverage director Michael Leslie Read more here »
Ruta Smith
"There's that escapism, that is where tiki came from." Read more here »
Ruta Smith
"[Tiki's] goal was to create nostalgia for the troops from World War II stationed in the Philippines and Hawaii. And they loved it. And it's so crazy how it just became cool. .. It was all made up." Read more here »
Ruta Smith
"[Pre-tiki] no one had yet thought to match over-the-top drinks with over-the-top decor." Read more here »
Ruta Smith
"Every tiki bar is a rum bar, but not all rum bars are tiki bars." Read more here »
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Ruta Smith
"What [Cane Rhum Bar] turned out to be is the place for anyone who loves rum, or who thinks they've had a proper rum drink, to sit and sip a while" Read more here »
Ruta Smith
[On why he opened Cane Rhum Bar:] "I almost stopped going out. Every menu, every bar looked the same to me," said Paul Yellin, owner. Read more here »
Ruta Smith
"[Rum] is supposed to invoke an experience, I'm not just selling you a drink. It smells like suntan lotion in here, like coconut." Read more here »
Ruta Smith
"Rum, for me, it's like Champagne. It's celebratory." Read more here »
Ruta Smith
Whether it's fresh and bright, cool and creamy, or boasting a proof that will burn your insides, the crafted cocktails in Charleston's tropical bars are guaranteed to leave you feeling just a little bit lighter. Read more here »
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Ruta Smith
From a time warp oasis to a Caribbean rum bar — Charleston is riding a tropical tidal wave by Mary Scott Hardaway Read more here »

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