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FIRST LOOK: False Idol

San Diego is now home to a world-class tiki bar


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We hailed its arrival in our cocktail issue. And now, the tiki revival is here.

False Idol may only be 1,000 square-feet, but it’s a big deal. It marks the fifth bar for America’s first man of tiki, Martin Cate—a partnership with San Diego’s premier cocktail group, Consortium Holdings. Cate owns and operates Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco, considered by many the best tiki bar in America.

Opening Sunday, False Idol is the second shoe to drop on the corner of Beech and Kettner Streets. The first was the multimillion-dollar renovation of Craft & Commerce, which opened yesterday. False Idol is the “hidden” Polynesian oasis attached to C&C.

Guests step through a walk-in cooler in Craft & Commerce, and emerge into False Idol. The space is a throwback to the golden era of tiki, before canned juice and corporate chains ruined the movement. There are vibrant pieces from tiki artists Bosko Hrnjak and Ignacio “Notch” Gonzalez. There are false idols everywhere. The ceiling is covered in glass buoy balls. Maori-style wall carvings. Petrified puffer fish. The whole place is exploding with tiki paraphernalia.

As for the drinks? Cate reportedly has the largest collection of rare rums, and he’s showcasing some of his favorites at False Idol. He and CH beverage director Anthony Schmidt worked with CH designer, Dane Danner, to create custom-designed tiki mugs for their tropical drinks, including a Trader Vic Mai Tai and Eastern Sour. They’re also paying tribute to San Diego’s once-thriving tiki scene, excavating recipes from the former Luau Room and Barefoot Bar.

False Idol opens Sunday, September 4 at 6pm. And it will be open every day thereafter from 6pm on. Make reservations at FalseIdolTiki.com.

675 W. Beech St., Little Italy.

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