What Happens When You Sip Your Way Through a Scorpion Bowl at Kon Tiki

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Drink up! It's a tradition. - HEATHER HOCH
  • Heather Hoch
  • Drink up! It's a tradition.

There are a number of reasons to patronize any specific bar. It could be that you've been going to the same dive for years and you love the jukebox. It could be that the place has the best craft spirit selection in town. Maybe you think your bartender is cute. I don't know—that's all between you and your beverage.

Regardless, there is some snobbery that comes with the surge of craft cocktailing. Boo on that. I'd like to say right now that Kon Tiki, which has been in operation since tiki cocktails had their first wave of popularity, is not a craft cocktail bar. Who cares?

Kon Tiki is a tradition. It's of a dying breed and Tucsonans are lucky to have it stay open in all of its kitschy faux Polynesian glory. Now in its 52nd year of operation, you should celebrate its persistent existence by stopping in with a friend and grabbing a scorpion bowl.

The giant glass chalice is filled with $16 worth of boozes and such—the special blend of which is known only by Kon Tiki bartenders, according to the menu. Very Don the Beachcomber of them. It does say it includes "rums, gin, brandy and liqueurs, plus tropical fruit juices," and, from the strong alcohol taste on the first few sips, I'd guess one of the rums in question is 151. 

You can get your scorpion bowl in regular, strawberry or blue—yes, blue. The latter not being so much a specific flavor as a key to one of its secret ingredients—blue curaçao (a.k.a. curaçao that's been dyed blue).

So, is Kon Tiki's scorpion bowl the best rum-based cocktail I've had in Tucson in terms of flavor? No. Is it the kind of place you could discuss why some distillers spell it "rhum" versus "rum"? Nope. Is it really fun to stare your drinking buddy in the eyes awkwardly as you sip through an absurdly long straw in a den-like tropical setting? Yes.

The beauty of Kon Tiki as a bar is the experience and the giant (and shockingly cheap) menu will ensure you experience plenty. Plus, by the bottom of the bowl, it actually starts to taste pretty good. You can try one for yourself at the bar, located at 4625 East Broadway Boulevard.

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