Cocktails from the Tilted Tiki in Stillwater

A new-ish tiki bar seeks to give its guests a year-round mini-vacation to the tropics.
An assortment of springtime drinks: Zombie, Tilted Hawaiian, Blue Thing and Mai Tai. Blue Thing is off-menu, a "budget, big, boozy blue drink," owner Chris Goetzke says.

The St. Croix Valley might seem a far cry from the ocean this time of year, but stepping into the Tilted Tiki Tidbits and Cocktail Lounge will make you feel like you've landed in the tropics. The downtown Stillwater bar opened in the Grand Garage building back in November 2016 and celebrated its first anniversary last fall. Nearly at its year and a half milestone, things are still going strong. With festive drinks, satisfying small plates and appetizers and a fun, laidback vibe, the Tilted Tiki has quickly become a popular destination in the area, letting guests feel like they’re on vacation—if only for happy hour.

Husband and wife team Chris and Patti Goetzke are the owners of Tilted Tiki. This is their first venture into the restaurant and bar business—Patti is a pharmaceutical consultant, and Chris worked in audiovisual sales prior to starting his own artificial palm tree business. Chris says he and Patti have long loved the culture and feel of tropical locales. They’ve taken many a trip to Florida and Hawaii, where they found much-needed relaxation among quaint tropical bars and little island shops. “We wanted to recapture this feeling while home in Minnesota, and that’s how the Tilted Tiki was conceived,” Chris says.

The Goetzkes hope guests will experience the fun and relaxation of a tropical vacation. Chris says he thinks of it as “an upscale dive bar” and wants incomers to feel like they’re stepping not off of the streets of downtown Stillwater but rather off the sandy shores of a beach. He’s worked hard to make the bar an authentic-looking tiki-themed hangout. Thatched walls, artificial palm trees and bamboo give the bar the feel of a vintage tiki bar, straight out of the 1950s and ’60s. The outdoor space also boasts a patio, perfect for the warmer days ahead.

Tilted Tiki’s menu, of course, complements the vacation vibe. There is an assortment of tropical-inspired drinks, both classics like daiquiris and Bahama mamas, as well as original drinks showcasing the staff’s sense of fun and creativity. “Some have up to 15 ingredients,” Chris says. For example, there’s the Molokai Mermaid, made up of passion fruit, guava and light rum, and the Tahitian Outrigger with rum, pineapple, almond and “mystery flavors,” he says.

However, there are plenty of options for folks looking for something simpler—beer, wine and $3 vodka, rum, gin and whiskey rails. Mai tais are the Tilted Tiki specialty, though, and the restaurant offers more than a dozen varieties on the traditional tropical drink. “They’re all based on the original Vic Bergeron recipe,” Chris says.

For those coming with an empty stomach, Tilted Tiki also has a range of food items. “Pupus, or small plates,” like cheese curds, pork wings and coconut shrimp are great for sharing (or not), and the variety of salads and sandwiches are great if you’ve got a bit more of an appetite, he says.

Alongside the appetizers and drinks, Tilted Tiki also offers plenty of games to help guests stay relaxed and entertained. There are checkers, pull tabs and an assortment of board games, and weekly live music performances. “We want you to feel like you’re on own personal vacation,” Chris says.