An interview with Shannon Mustipher

Southern Glazer’s Bridget Albert talks to Shannon Mustipher about her latest book Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails.


Tiki is the one and only cocktail category that instantly transports the drinker to island time! I had the opportunity to chat with Shannan Mustipher about her book Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails. Shannon shared the history of Tiki and her favorite tropical cocktail.


What inspired you to write about Tiki?


The initial inspiration was to highlight the diversity of quality rums, and as I explored the concept, I realized it would be worthwhile to explore a wider range of spirits and ingredients that are available to us today.  I looked at everything with a "What would Donn (Beach) Do?” mentality -- if he had access to mezcal, I am sure he would have used it in his recipes.


Likewise, I wanted the visuals in the book to make it clear that this book was taking an off-the-beaten-path approach to combining ingredients and to be beautiful enough to live as a standalone work of art in and of itself.


Where was Tiki invented?


Don the Beachcomber was the first to serve what were initially called Exotic Cocktails in the late 1930's at the restaurant he opened in Los Angeles bearing his name.  Shortly thereafter, Victor Bergeron, AKA Trader Vic, opened his first restaurant in the Oakland, CA area.  Meanwhile both bars, and subsequent imitators that soon followed, employed Filipino bartenders, who brought with them a knowledge of how to mix tropical juices.  So, while we can say that Tiki was invented in California, some of the earliest practitioners of it have roots in East Asia and Polynesia.


Is there a Tiki cocktail that you love that everyone should try and why?


The Zombie, hands down it is an icon and almost single handedly made Tiki a phenomenon in the bar world.  It first appeared in late 1939 and was so popular that many copycat versions and spin off bars popped up across the U.S. to capitalize on its popularity. 


It is a strong drink, however, and if you have a tendency towards lighter drinks, the Saturn -- Gin, passionfruit, orgeat, and lemon -- is a delightful and anticipates the Mai Tai.


Give our readers insights to how the Tiki culture has evolved.


Over the last odd decade, a new generation of bartenders and consumer have called into question where and when it is appropriate to utilize imagery derived from Oceanic and Polynesian cultures and traditions, and to this end have sought to incorporate imagery and decor that has more general "Nautical” or "seafaring themes” to avoid making any disrespectful gestures towards marginalized or underrepresented cultures and people.


Leave us with a toast.


“May your drink be potent and your journeys pleasant."





About Shannon Mustipher


Shannon Mustipher is a cocktail consultant, spirits educator, and the author of Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails (Rizzoli/Universe).  After launching a Caribbean rum-focused bar at Glady’s Caribbean in 2014, she went on to found  Women Who Tiki, a tropical cocktail-centric pop up that gathers a team of women bartenders to share their talents and collaborate on creating a one night only experience.  Shannon's writing, cocktail recipes, and opinions have been featured in a number of publications, including Imbibe,,, and  She currently resides in Brooklyn, NY, and enjoys traveling, cooking, and collecting “too many books.”


Learn more about Shannon at


Purchase Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktail here.


Follow Shannon on social media @shannonmustipher.


Contact Shannon by email here:


Listen to Shannon’s Served Up episode: TBD


Shannon supports charitable work and is passionate about helping others. You can lend your support to one of Shannon's causes by following the link below.



Visit The Served Up Book Club library to read more great interviews with our favorite authors.