Adrift is beautiful, and chef Wade Kirwan will make sure his food suits the space
It all started with a rum collection and a tiki night. "I collect rum, and while I was bartending at Madison Street, I started bringing in my own rum collection, which then turned into a great tiki culture on Tuesday nights," says Matty Durgin, who, along with Wade Kirwan and Jay Dedrick, owner of Swing Thai, will open Adrift, a new tiki bar at 218 South Broadway. And after months of delays, that opening will come within the next month. "We can count it in weeks," Durgin says. "Things are moving very quickly."
And Adrift won't be your typical safari shack strewn with artificial palm trees and faux Tahitian coconut palms. Dedrick, who periodically travels to Thailand on buying trips, bedecked the space, which is nothing short of stunning, with walls of handcrafted, solid bamboo poles, hand-carved tikis from Indonesia and China, murals that originated from antiquated cruise-ship menu covers, espresso-hued wooden floors reclaimed from wood in tobacco factories, curved chartreuse and brothel red, faux-crocodile channel-back booths and suspended, conversation-piece light fixtures created from blowfish.
"A couple of years ago, I started getting into tiki and learning more about it -- and then I got obsessed with the design," explains Dedrick, adding that he's "enamored by the culture and history behind the tiki bar."
"This is a minimally theatrical, modern and clean take on a tiki bar," Durgin adds. "Brick by brick, piece by piece, we're paying homage to the tiki-bar tradition, balancing kitsch with art, and everything has been designed and pieced together by hand."
And Durgin has gone to great lengths to stay true to the history and culture of the cocktails, too, even down to the rum, the base for 32 libations. "The cocktail list is really intricate and esoteric -- some of the recipes have as many as twelve ingredients, and we're making sure to use the same rum that's in the traditional recipes," he says.