Brian Miller’s preferred title(s) is “Global Tiki Apostle, Pirate and Captain of the Ship” or simply “Captain” to his friends. However, most people probably know Miller as Partner, Beverage Director, and Bartender at, NYC’s new tiki hotspot, The Polynesian.
Miller opened The Polynesian (400 W 42nd St.) a few months ago, but his impressive bonafides go back decades. Before teaming up with Major Food Group (The Lobster Club, Carbone, ZZ’s Clam Bar, Dirty French, Santina), the Captain’s resumé included time as Head Bartender at Death & Company; and opening staff at Audrey Saunders’ Pegu Club; operating viral tiki pop-ups; and a consulting gig for Elettaria with Lynnette Marrero.
After years spent honing his skills, Miller is finally pursuing his Tiki dram, his way, at The Polynesian. Neat Pour sought some more info during a lightning round of seven questions with skipper.
Why not? Take your image of paradise and add rum.
Where does the drinks list land on the Tiki spectrum? Is it more classic Don the Beachcomber or “New Tiki”?
I like to think we are a blend of both.
Many of the most celebrated craft cocktail bars have a formal/buttoned-up stigma about them; Tiki is, by definition, anything but formal. How do you plan to bridge that divide?
Sarongs. And colorful metaphors.
Mugs are the calling card of many Tiki bars. What type of mugs are The Polynesian using and how did you select them?
We have 3 custom mugs at the Polynesian—two from Danny “Tiki Diablo” Gallardo and one from Matt Stikker of Munktiki. The other mugs we have are limited edition ones that I looked high and low for on the internet. It was all about trying to find something unique and awe-inspiring.
It’s common for rum nerds treat the basic daiquiri as a litmus test of a bar. What are your specs for a standard daiquiri?
Rum, lime and sugar. The portions vary depending on the rum and the guest’s palate.
What’s your favorite tiki bar outside of The Polynesian?
Nice try. The one my friends are at.
Finally, is a Pina Colada tiki?
Historically, no. But I have one on my menu. It serves as a bridge for the uninitiated. I hook them with something that is universally recognized and then hopefully open them up to a world they never knew existed.
Photo of Brian Miller by Noah Fecks