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FOOD & DRINK

The Luwow Has Opened a Tiki Bar in the CBD with Leopard Print, Flaming Cocktails and Tacos

Retro sounds and giant tiki cocktails in a kitschy jungle hideaway.
By Libby Curran
February 20, 2020
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The Luwow Has Opened a Tiki Bar in the CBD with Leopard Print, Flaming Cocktails and Tacos

Retro sounds and giant tiki cocktails in a kitschy jungle hideaway.
By Libby Curran
February 20, 2020
  shares

Melbourne's summer might not last forever, but you can bank on some year-round tropical feels at The Luwow's new CBD tiki bar.

After five years shaking colourful cocktails and playing retro tunes on Fitzroy's Johnston Street, followed by a bit of a hiatus, the much-loved venue moved into new digs in the city late last year. It's now bringing the party vibes to Little Collins Street, in a space that's a little more intimate, but every bit as lively as the original.

Here, owners Skipper Josh Collins and Barbara Blaze — also behind Perth's Hula Bula Bar and Devilles Pad, and new Sunshine Coast resort The Luwow Lodge — have created yet another high-voltage, kitschy hideaway. It's filled with hand-carved totem poles, jungle plants, leopard print and bamboo, as well as treasures picked up from across the South Pacific. Vintage sounds plucked from the duo's own collection of vinyl deliver a toe-tapping mix of rock 'n' roll, ska, surf, exotica and 60s garage, while DJs work the decks each weekend.

Tracey Ah-kee

Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, The Luwow 2.0 is whipping up a bold cocktail menu of rum-heavy drinks, many crafted with natural sweeteners like organic coconut blossom nectar. You'll find concoctions like a gutsy mai tai, the flaming share-sized Voodoo Volcano and the Don Zombie — a blend of rum, pink grapefruit, star anise, pomegranate and cinnamon. Fancy some holiday-style drink prices? The daily happy hour (4–6pm) offers a slew of $10 tiki cocktails, along with pints of Red Stripe lager for an easy $7 a pop.

Like the space itself, the food offering here comes chock full of pan-Pacific flavour. Try corn tortillas topped with the likes of slow-roasted pork shoulder and salsa verde, an Oaxacan cheese quesadilla or the mulitas — a crispy corn taco sandwich loaded with cheese, guacamole and your choice of fillings.

Tracey Ah-kee

Of course, the tiki bar concept isn't without controversy. With cultural appropriation, colonial nostalgia and exploitative use of First Nations peoples' iconography and tradition at its core, the concept is often seen as exploitative, offensive and problematic. In many Pacific Islander communities, a tiki is a deity. In tiki-themed bars, it's a kitschy drinking vessel. Others insist, however, that tiki bars aren't meant to be taken too seriously — that we should instead focus on its fun side and drink that mai tai.

Perhaps 2020 will be a turning point for how we view tiki bars, collectively.

Find The Luwow at 212 Little Collins Street, Melbourne. It's open 4pm—midnight Monday—Thursday and 4.30pm–1am Friday–Saturday.

Images: Tracey Ah-kee

Published on February 20, 2020 by Libby Curran

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