Mahiki needs no introduction. As one of the world’s most famous and popular nightclub brands, it immerses visitors in warm hospitality and dishes out banging tiki serves. Arriving at the pristine Dover Street institution on a sunny afternoon, and with the slight scent of coconut in the air, Isabella Sullivan sat down with co-founder and renowned hospitality man Piers Adam to talk all things Mahiki Manchester
Its flagship has been standing proudly on Mayfair’s Dover Street for 10 years. But this year has sparked a wave of expansion for the Mahiki brand.
Deciding to go big, the brand launched its own coconut rum, and has plans to open five venues in three countries around the world. One of which, Mahiki Manchester, opened last weekend.
With the original shortlisted in Imbibe‘s Drinks List of the Year awards, it’s time for its tiki cocktail portfolio to be taken seriously.
‘As a brand we are passionate about this country,’ began Adam on the reasons to launch another UK venue.
‘The UK has the best music, fashion, drinks, so we thought to ourselves, “where do these three macro businesses merge into the individual?” Bars and nightclubs of course.
‘The outside world sees tiki as fun, democratic and appealing to all different ages and backgrounds, and Mahiki plays what everyone secretly wants to listen to and what everyone secretly wants to drink.’
Mahiki Manchester is set to do just this, adding to the city’s booming bar scene with a late night cocktail bar-cum-restaurant.
Opening in Marbella and Sardinia earlier this year, Adam has always had his eye on Manchester, a city he believes is full of exceptional creativity, music, art and global brands.
‘It has great energy, a big student scene, incredible history and a massive sense of community,’ explained Adam. ‘We’re opening with my partner [Manchester United legend] Gary Neville, who is a local and knows the area, which is so important for a city with such a strong identity.’
The bar, filled with natural light, boats two rooms, the Lanai Lounge and the Aloha Party Room, decked out with hand-carved totem poles, bamboo cladding, Chinese jade tiles and Versace tropical wallpaper.
Over to the 80 rum-strong bar, where kitsch 1950s-inspired tiki fabric cushions the stools, while bamboo tables and chairs are adorned in flower petals and chopsticks.
Known for its fruity and fun cocktails and treasure chest serves, Mahiki cocktails have possibly never been awarded the full industry recognition they deserve, but for Adam it’s about giving people what they want over complicated cocktail recipes.
‘We want to purvey our great drinks in a less pretentious, intimidating way. Some people will think “wow, this is an incredible cocktail and I really respect it”, but 99% of the people here will think “this is really nice and I’m having a great time”,’ he revealed.
Along with many cities across the UK where nightlife has been threatened, Manchester has seen its fare few on-trade closures in recent years, with Adam hoping the new opening will be the first of many.
‘The closure of nightclubs is a travesty, but the modern consumer wants more than just going to a nightclub at 11pm. People can stay in a bar until 2am. The Manchester venue is set to be more like a bar that “warms up during the night”. People who haven’t been to Mahiki think it’s just a nightclub, but it’s not, it’s a really good cocktail bar. First and foremost it’s a cocktail bar, with food, that stays open late.’
Despite being famous for its celebrity clientele, Mahiki wants to break away from this image with the Manchester opening. ‘People have this perception of Mahiki, but it isn’t an elitist brand, it’s welcome to everybody and it’s just about having fun,’ insisted Adam.
It doesn’t just stop at Manchester, with Mahiki Kensington set to also open in the upcoming months, focusing around a Polynesian-inspired ‘Puffer Fish’ restaurant. So watch this space…