Tiki statues, light-up ice cubes, and wine. These unlikely shipmates come ashore together happily at the High Roller Tiki Lounge, a wonderfully whimsical hideaway whipping up wine-based tropical cocktails in the back of Solvang’s Sort This Out Cellars.
With a background that includes 17 years as a Disneyland chef, wine buyer, and sommelier, owner Michael Cobbs has always had a keen sense for hospitality and entertainment. But with High Roller, which opened in late 2016, he was able to go Tiki As F$#% (to paraphrase a sign in the bar), fulfilling a passion for imaginative culinary experiences with beautiful mermaid mugs, swaying hula girl lamps, and palm thatch awnings.
How are the drinks? Delicious, and incredibly fun to drink. Half his recipes are based on classics, with chardonnay-fueled variations on the Painkiller, Mai Tai, and Blue Hawaiian, each containing a barely detectable full glass of wine. Other recipes, such as the This Drink Will Get You Lei’d, shows how unoaked chardonnay’s tropical-citrus notes interplay well with passion fruit (and your very own lei). The Solvang Siren, meanwhile, is a most interesting combination of sweet lychee syrup, the slightest bit of spice from a pasilla pepper, and the tang of blood-orange bitters.
My favorite was the least traditionally tiki: a Pumpkin Spice Sacrifice of white wine, pumpkin puree, cream of coconut, and ginger beer, in an invitingly volcanic mug. If customers beside us were any proof — they were tiki enthusiasts who arrived skeptical but left grinning — this inventive spin on tiki bars is the real deal.
1636 Copenhagen Drive, Solvang. (805) 688-1717 ; highrollertiki.com