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Tiger King Wins Best Cocktail Award from Restaurant Hospitality

Tiger King Cocktail Carole Baskins Cosplay

Cali BBQ’s Tiger King was named one of America’s Best Cocktails of 2020.

In many ways our Tiger King Fishbowl Cocktail (available online for takeout or delivery) perfectly captured the zeitgeist of 2020, according to Restaurant Hospitality magazine which awarded Cali BBQ’s limited edition drink the honor of being one of the 10 best cocktails in the United States.

The spicy and sweet alcoholic beverage (inspired by a Mango Saladito) caught fire online thanks to social media sharing, it was available to purchase online, and it referenced an extremely popular Netflix phenomenon at a time when many people were stuck watching Netflix at home.

Tiger King Best Cocktail Award - Twitter April 2

The Tiger King cocktail went viral almost immediately when we unveiled the shareable alcoholic drink on April 1, 2020. Our guests and audience gave us a resounding “YES” when we polled them about the drink idea online.

Tiger King Cocktail - Facebook Poll - April 2020

For added fun, the shareable 32oz growler cocktail came with a Fishbowl full of ice, and a tiger striped rubber ducky to float on top.

Tiger King Cocktail To Go Social Media Post


Spicy Tiger King Cocktail Ingredients:

  • Blanco tequila infused with habaneros
  • Mango juice
  • Lime juice
  • Triple Sec


Tiger King drink at Cali BBQ

Here’s how Restaurant Hospitality puts it in the America’s Best Cocktails of 2020 article: 

The full-service Cali BBQ has been closed for indoor dining since the pandemic shutdown, but the restaurant — long known for its sharable “fishbowl” specialty cocktails — says off-premise is booming, especially since to-go alcohol has been permitted.

The sports bar initially didn’t have sports to talk about, so GM Eric Olafsen tapped into what everyone was watching: the bizarre Netflix series “Tiger King.”  It immediately went viral, with guests ordering it to watch the show — sometimes showing up at the restaurant to pick it up dressed like “Tiger King” characters.

Tiger King Cocktail Carole Baskins Cosplay

The cocktail borrows flavors from a mango saladito on the menu, and comes with tiger-striped rubber ducks. “It’s almost like an adult happy meal,” said owner Shawn Walchef. “You don’t realize how much people love a quality craft cocktail until it’s taken away from you.”

It’s been a hard year for bar and restaurant operators, with the pandemic closing many beloved spots. Independent restaurants are vital to the $800 billion US foodservice industry.

“But Americans need a drink now more than ever, and restaurants and bars are meeting that need with creative flair — and often with a to-go option,” the staff of Restaurant Hospitality wrote in their Best Cocktails list.

“Submissions this year indicate certain trends: The smoking of cocktails and the addition of aromatic elements remains hugely popular, as do theatrical presentations at the table. We saw cerebral adaptations of classics to please aficionados of ingredients like rye whiskey and cocktails that tapped umami flavors of India. We saw cocktails served in glasses with octopus tentacles and in terrariums.

“And we saw cocktails that perfectly captured 2020 with a “Tiger King” theme in a growler jug for delivery to be shared within guests’ pandemic pod.”


Here are the 10 Best Cocktails of 2020 as picked by Restaurant Hospitality staff.

  1. Tiger King (Cali BBQ in San Diego, California)
  2. Cold Brew Cocktail (Sol Mexican Cucina in Newport Beach, California)
  3. The Passionista (Geordie’s at Wrigley Mansion in Phoenix, Arizona)
  4. Cassius Green (Petite Leon in Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  5. Midnight Rum (151 Kitchen Bar in Elmhurst, Illinois)
  6. Le Rendezvous (III Forks in Dallas, Texas)
  7. The Chatpata Fizz (Thyme Bar in New York City)
  8. Smoke on the Water (Atlantis Steakhouse in Reno, Nevada)
  9. Joey Lollipops (Pazzo Cucina Italiano in Naples, Florida)
  10. Communication Breakdown (Carson Kitchen in Las Vegas, Nevada)


Thank you @restauranthospitality for including our #TigerKing Fishbowl as one of the best cocktails in the nation for 2020.

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Visit Restaurant Hospitality online for more news and information about the hospitality industry.

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