Writing the cocktail column for DV8 magazine is one of the monthly appointments Sarah and I really look forward to, and ahead of their October issue we were excited to check out one of the newest bars on the Fulham scene, Kona Kai.
Kona Kai is a Polynesian themed bar with a fab location just a stones throw from Fulham Broadway station. The attention to detail is great, and as you enter you are struck by an array of wooden tribal masks, colourful ceiling lamps, woven-bamboo chairs and carved cocktail jars. The atmosphere is unashamedly fun, cheeky and unpretentious, plus I'm a sucker for a theme, so ticks all round there! For those of you who have visited Sugar Cane in Clapham Junction, you'll get the picture - Kona Kai is their sister club.
Apart from copious amounts of bamboo, florals and tropical motifs, the point of difference for any self-respecting Tiki bar is the philosophy around drinks. The drinks need to be STRONG! And golly, they really are. Traditionally, Polynesians used a blend of sweet, tropical fruit flavours to mask the taste of their potent bootleg rum. Whilst the alcohol at Kona Kai is of markedly better quality than what would have been available in the tropics a century or so again, the bar has remained true to the Tiki concept. Cocktails are full of sweet, tropical fruit flavours and they definitely pack a punch.
Our favourites of their fruity concoctions were the Lazy Afternoon and the, aptly named, Tiki Death Punch. The Lazy Afternoon contains 42 below Passion Fruit Vodka, Malibu Coconut rum, peach, pineapple and apple which whilst sweet, was definitely refreshing and tasted very tropical. The Tiki Death Punch is made to "James' secret recipe" but what we could tease out of the barman was that this one contains plenty of over-proof rum, grenadine and is topped with a healthy wedge of pineapple. This cocktail tastes good and is guaranteed to indicate the start of a pretty big night out! If those two cocktails haven't injected you with all of your 5 a day (there is after all half a fruit bowl in there) then we can suggest going off-menu and asking barman Vinne for his 'Green Fairy' cocktail. Gin-based, this cocktail fuses grapes, elderflower and lemon in a way which is at once fun and also adds a touch of elegance and glamour to this fun-filled location.
The drinks are also good value, and for those of you looking for a seriously fun, but inexpensive mid-week night out, Kona Kai offers a full complement of deals throughout the week. "Sundown Sundays" offer 2 for 1 cocktails and complementary food with table bookings, whilst "Exotica" Thursdays are an opportunity to drink £3.50 mojitos all day long. Saturday's happy hour is 4-7pm and for those looking to party in a group (this is definitely a good birthday party location), table bookings are free and require no minimum spend.
Whilst Kona Kai is not one of the more sophisticated venues in SW6, that's not what it's trying to be. This place is seriously fun, cheeky and really lives up the theme. We reckon it's perfect for a cheap night out in a large group, and would definitely recommend it for a birthday party. For a full cocktail review and our Barman of the Month feature with Kona Kai's Ben, check out DV8's October issue here
515 Fulham Road
Not open on Mondays