RESTAURANT 101
Lani Kai Brings the Tropics to the City

We’ve all seen subway ads portraying a beautiful beach somewhere in the Caribbean or Hawaii. Everyone is barely dressed and smiling, and there’s a tagline on it somewhere saying “You could be here,” or “Need a vacation?” Juxtapose this against the passed out drunk homeless guy desperately in need of a shower and the overall drabness of a mass of underground travelers, and you might find yourself saying, “Maybe I do need a vacation…”

But who really has the time or money for a vacation to someplace tropical? The next best thing has to be the drinks at the SOHO cocktail lounge known as Lani Kai. Once inside, you may feel like you’ve just stepped in off the surf for some beachside nightlife. The tropical plant-covered deck leading up to the bar will make the cars driving by on Broome street sound like waves crashing on the shore. Lani Kai, roughly translated as ‘Heavenly Waters,’ is a Julie Reiner creation. Reiner is known in the New York cocktail world for the famous Flatiron Lounge, and the newer Clover Club in Brooklyn. This place, however, is closer in resemblance to her home state of Hawaii.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Aloha Alcoholics! NYC's Best Tropical Bars: Part I

End your summer with a tropical bang...and not the kind Irene threw your way. Hit up some of the city's best tropical bars if you can't make it to the Hamptons or splurge on that last minute cruise. Here's a list of some of our favorites.

The Hurricane Club

Tropical themed bars can get a little cheesy...but this spot is heating up in all the right ways. Expect to find sophisticated decor with shell stone fireplaces, mosquito net curtains, and chandeliers. This Polynesian-inspired happening has cocktails a-plenty for the extremely parched. Served as a punch, or in your choice of coconut, melons, or red peppers, this place well deserves your lovin'.

THE HOT SPOT
New York's Guide to Tropical Nightlife

Sit back, close your eyes, and think of a bright sunny day lounging on the beach. The cool breeze flowing through your hair, the sand pressed firmly against your toes, a bucket of ice cold Coronas hitting your lips. Sounds good right? Unfortunately, living and working in New York doesn't provide these small pleasures of life. As much as I love NY in the summer, sometimes commuting in the steamy hot subway and sitting in front of the air conditioner in my cramped apartment makes me long for a chance to get away.

For some of us it's not that easy to just take a trip and find some secluded beachy slice of heaven to spend some time in. With the way the economy is, it's getting pretty hard to even check out the beaches in Jersey --unless of course you happen to be gym buddies with The Situation. With no Tropical destination in sight for myself this summer, I researched some local spots that might make me feel like I’m away from the city. Below is a guide to a Tropical New York. If you feel like getting out of the city for a night, but can’t find the time or the funds to put together a legit trip, these night life spots will hopefully take you there, even if it's only for a little while.

PainKiller: This Lower East Side cocktail haven will make you think you teleported into a Caribbean beach bar. Once there, toss back a few of their classic Mai Tais (Jamaican rum, over-proof Demerara rum, lime juice and house-made orgeat and curaçao; $12), to truly take in the island experience.