Pittsburgh’s Hidden Harbor Spirited Traveler cocktail (photo by Wendy Pramik)
Food + Drink

Explore a Pittsburgh Tiki Bar

Writer Michael Pramik takes us along on a trip to Hidden Harbor and his conversation with co-owner Adam Henry. 

Whiskey brings warmth and complexity, while vodka offers a clean canvas. Gin showcases botanical delights and tequila brings the fire.

Yet, it is rum that beckons during summertime, whisking us away to tropical shores and becoming the swashbuckling hero of the spirits realm. It enchants the refined connoisseur and emboldens the adventurous soul.

During my recent sojourn in Pittsburgh, I was thrilled to discover a tiki bar called Hidden Harbor. Established in 2016 and nestled alongside a co-owned brewery, Hidden Harbor is a sanctuary of exotic tiki libations and tropical cocktails, boasting an impressive rum collection of more than 500 labels.

Co-owner Adam Henry says the secret to crafting an exceptional tiki drink lies in the use of fresh ingredients and the artful layering of complexity through quality spirits. Such artistry was evident in the classic Mai Tai that I ordered. It possessed a depth of flavor unlike any I had concocted on my own.

The cool cocktail, elegantly presented in an adorned double old-fashioned glass, was the harmonious marriage of four rum variations, freshly squeezed lime juice and house-made syrup.

While aspiring mixologists may endeavor to recreate such perfection at home, the path to a flawless rum-based cocktail is not always effortless or convenient. But it’s worth trying.


Meet a Master

Adam Henry is co-owner of Hidden Harbor in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Hidden Harbor, which opened in 2016 as a top-shelf tiki bar, joined with Maggie’s Farm Rum distillery to produce the top white rum of the year in 2021 in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

What’s the most popular tiki drink at Hidden Harbor?
Probably the Frozen Painkiller, which came from the British Virgin Islands in the 1970s. We like to think of it as “the professional’s Pina Colada.” We make our version with a blend of seven rums and toasted coconut cream. It’s helpful that we have it in a frozen drink machine, as we can fly through 50 or more on busy nights.

What is keeping the tiki craze going after so many years?
Tiki is all about escape: escape from everyday life and its problems, and escape to the warmth of the tropics. The longing for escape is probably universal — certainly it is here in Pittsburgh with our cold, gray winters. Plus, the drinks, when made well, can be mind-blowingly good.

What inspired the collaboration with Maggie’s Farm Rum?
The idea was to have a single bottle of rum to make a superior daiquiri. We already did a lot of blending of rums in-house in that tiki tradition. We came up with a formulation that starts with their rum but accents it with Jamaican and other Caribbean rums for fruitier, funkier flavors.

To learn more about Hidden Harbor, visit hiddenharborpgh.com.

Proof Magazine is for Ohio spirit lovers. It is produced by Great Lakes Publishing three times a year. Dont miss an issue by subscribing to Ohio Magazine. View a digital version of the Proof Magazine Summer 2023 edition here