The Week in Tiki (Jan. 19, 2015): Tickets on sale for The Hukilau, Miami Rum Fest; Lost Lake opens in Chicago

Aloha, and welcome to a new feature on The Atomic Grog spotlighting the latest news and information on the Polynesian Pop revival and wide world of retro-themed entertainment. Every Monday, look for a new blog post that previews what’s coming up and looks back at the highlights of the previous week. The Week in Tiki will attempt to cover all the major happenings across the world, with a focus on our home base, Florida and the U.S. East Coast. In keeping with the theme of the blog, look for updates on events, music, art, cocktails and culture, along with our obsession with Disney World. We’ll also celebrate our favorite spirit, rum, and spotlight a different cocktail recipe every week. Sit back, relax … and enjoy!
* Keep up with The Week in Tiki: Subscribe to the RSS feed | See past weeks
* Weekly features: Artist | Website | Band/music | Tiki bar | Rum | Cocktail | Events

LAST WEEK IN REVIEW (Jan. 12-18, 2015)

It was a very busy week in the Tiki universe. Here’s a look back at the highlights. Click here or scroll down for info on how to keep us in the loop.

The Hukilau tickets include six symposiums on Tiki culture
The Hukilau 2015
It’s time to book your room and secure your tickets for the 14th annual gathering of Polynesian Pop devotees in Fort Lauderdale on June 10-14. A new, temporary website launched on Tuesday (Jan. 13) with an impressive lineup of symposiums covering an assortment of fascinating mid-century icons, such as Disney World’s original Polynesian Village Resort (by Disney artists Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily), Florida’s Tiki Gardens, and Southern California’s Pacific Ocean Park. In addition, Tiki cocktail historian Jeff “Beachbum” Berry will join forces with New York City’s Brian Miller to present an in-depth analysis of the Planter’s Punch. Also announced was an entertainment lineup featuring some new (Alika Lyman Group) and old (The Intoxicators, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid) faces. The Hukilau will be hosted for the first time by the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 hotel, with additional events at the venerable Mai-Kai restaurant.

Coming soon, more details and tickets for a”Tiki Tower Takeover” by Berry, Miller and two other stars of the modern cocktail scene: Martin Cate (Smuggler’s Cove) and Paul McGee (Lost Lake). The special event will take place on Thursday, June 11, in the hotel’s 17th-floor, revolving Pier Top Ballroom.
* Get your event passes and tickets | Reserve a hotel room
* Full coverage from The Atomic Grog

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The Hukilau announces six historic symposiums, ticket sales for June event in Fort Lauderdale

Tickets are now on sale for The Hukilau, the June 10-14 gathering of Polynesian Pop enthusiasts in Fort Lauderdale that boasts an impressive lineup of six symposiums by noted authors, artists and filmmakers. The 14th annual event will also include more live music, artists and vendors than ever before, plus a one-of-a-kind cocktail experience.

Order now: Event passes and tickets, hotel reservations at TheHukilau.com
See below: Tickets and schedule | Symposiums | Entertainers

The Hukilau

The five days of activities will be headquartered at a new host hotel, the iconic Pier 66, a mid-century landmark that towers 17 stories above the south end of Fort Lauderdale Beach. Events will also be held at The Mai-Kai, the historic Tiki restaurant that has been home base for The Hukilau since 2003.

The Hukilau: June 10-14, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Musical guests and performers: Alika Lyman Group, The Intoxicators, Gold Dust Lounge, Pablus, Slip and the Spinouts, Kinky Waikiki, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, King Kukulele. Symposium presenters: Arthur Dong, Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Brian Miller, Domenic Priore, Jeff Chenault, Jon Bortles and Tiki Gardener.
* Latest updates: The Hukilau on Facebook | The Atomic Grog: The Week in Tiki

Tiki history is the focus of six special symposiums just announced for The Hukilau this year. Topics include idolized mid-century attractions such as Disney World’s original Polynesian Village Resort, Florida’s Tiki Gardens, Southern California’s Pacific Ocean Park, and The Kahiki supper club in Ohio.

The Hyatt Regency Pier 66

The Hyatt Regency Pier 66 overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale.

As usual, an eclectic lineup of musical acts has been assembled to keep the party lively. The Alika Lyman Group features the Hawaii-born nephew of exotica legend Arthur Lyman, performing a musical tribute that ranges from exotica to jazz to classic Hawaiian. Also performing will be Tallahassee instrumental surf stalwarts The Intoxicators, Miami surf-spy-jazz combo Gold Dust Lounge, Georgia’s loungy Hawaiian music group Kinky Waikiki, Tiki-inspired singer-songwriter Pablus from Tampa, and South Florida roots rockers Slip and the Spinouts. And it wouldn’t’ be The Hukilau without master of ceremonies King Kukulele and a performance or two by Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid.

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The Week in Tiki (Jan. 12, 2015): The Hukilau ticket sales, Polynesian Village bungalows, Lost Lake coming to Chicago

Aloha, and welcome to a new feature on The Atomic Grog spotlighting the latest news and information on the Polynesian Pop revival and wide world of retro-themed entertainment. Every Monday, look for a new blog post that previews what’s coming up and looks back at the highlights of the previous week. The Week in Tiki will attempt to cover all the major happenings across the world, with a focus on our home base, Florida and the U.S. East Coast. In keeping with the theme of the blog, look for updates on events, music, art, cocktails and culture, along with our obsession with Disney World. We’ll also celebrate our favorite spirit, rum, and spotlight a different cocktail recipe every week. Sit back, relax … and enjoy!
* Keep up with The Week in Tiki: Subscribe to the RSS feed
* Weekly features: Artist | Band/music | Tiki bar | Rum | Cocktail | Website | Events

THIS WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS (Jan. 12-18, 2015)

The Hukilau to announce symposiums, ticket sales

A vintage photo of the Pier 66 hotel in Fort Lauderdale

A vintage photo of the Pier 66 hotel in Fort Lauderdale, site of The Hukilau in June 2015.

Expect a major announcement this week from The Hukilau, the annual Tiki event in Fort Lauderdale that draws enthusiasts from around the world. Passes and tickets will be going on sale for the June 10-14 festivities, which for the first time will take place at the iconic Hyatt Regency Pier 66 hotel along with the historic Mai-Kai restaurant. [See previous story] The impressive entertainment lineup will include six symposiums on Tiki and Polynesian Pop history. More details will also be released on author and fledgling bar owner Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s special event in the hotel’s signature Pier Top Lounge. The musical lineup will include an array of exotica, jazz, surf and rockabilly bands. For updates, check TheHukilau.com and the Facebook page. The Atomic Grog will also have full coverage.

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Celebrating 58 years, The Mai-Kai expands anniversary party to two nights

Since it opened on an undeveloped stretch of Federal Highway on Dec. 28, 1956, The Mai-Kai has stood proudly as an icon of mid-century Tiki culture, supported by some of the most loyal guests any restaurant could hope for. Every year on that date, the Fort Lauderdale institution gives back with its Customer Celebration Party, which includes live entertainment and great deals on food and drinks.

The Mai-Kai in the 1960s

The Mai-Kai in the 1960s. (Official photo)

The Mai-Kai’s Customer Celebration Parties: Saturday, Dec. 27, and Sunday, Dec. 28. Featuring live music by the Aloha Boyz, plus food and drink specials in The Molokai lounge. Location: 3599 N. Federal Highway, between Commercial and Oakland Park boulevards. Valet and paid self-parking. Call (954) 563-3272 or go to MaiKai.com.

For its 58th birthday, The Mai-Kai is adding an additional night to the festivities, making it a two-day bash in The Molokai bar with live music both nights beginning at 6 p.m. Food and drink discounts have also been increased beyond the usual 50 percent, with most items on the lounge menu available at 58 percent off all night long. (There are some restrictions, such as bottles of wine, champagne, and the large communal cocktails.)

Guests can also enjoy the eclectic trio the Aloha Boyz, featuring former musicians from The Mai-Kai’s Polynesian Islander Revue. Derek Suzuki (guitar/vocals), Buki Teheiura Itchener (bass/vocals) and Ty Olopai (ukulele/vocals) cover many styles including Hawaiian, pop oldies, reggae, calypso, and country.

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The Hukilau is movin’ on up …. to the landmark Pier 66 hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach

When Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White said she had big plans for the revived and reinvigorated Polynesian Pop event she has organized since 2002, she wasn’t kidding. When The Hukilau returns to Fort Lauderdale for its 14th annual Tiki weekender in June, it will be headquartered at one of the area’s most distinctive landmark hotels, the towering Hyatt Regency Pier 66.

The Hukilau

The Hukilau: June 10-14, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. More info at TheHukilau.com and Facebook.
* Make hotel reservations now
* Previous coverage: Following ‘magical’ 2014, Tiki Kiliki has big plans for The Hukilau

The 17-story Pier 66 tower was built 50 years ago and opened in 1965

The 17-story Pier 66 tower was built 50 years ago and opened in 1965.

Rising 17 stories on the south end of Fort Lauderdale Beach, the historic hotel has roots that date back to 1956, the same year The Mai-Kai restaurant opened its doors around 6 miles to the north. The historic Polynesian supper club has been the centerpiece of The Hukilau since 2003, when the event moved from Atlanta, but host hotels have not been as stable [see list]. The most popular have been the Bahia Mar, Yankee Clipper and Bahia Cabana, all located near the more lavish Pier 66, which dominates the skyline next to Port Everglades and the Intracoastal Waterway bridge. But none of The Hukilau’s previous hotels approaches its amenities or spectacular views.

Pier 66 was built on 22 acres adjacent to the port as a dock and marina by Phillips Petroleum (aka Phillips 66), hence the “66” moniker. In the late ’50s, a two story hotel and restaurant were added, but the site gained notoriety (and its lasting iconic status) in 1965, when the 17-story tower was erected. Containing 250 rooms, its signature touch was the penthouse, a mid-century modern space-age design that contained a rotating cocktail lounge. Celebrating its 50th year in 2015, the tower’s rooftop restaurant/lounge will be the site of a very special event at The Hukilau.
* See more hotel history below

Pier 66, now operated as a Hyatt Regency property, is a popular destination for conventions, weddings and special events. It features 384 rooms, five restaurants and lounges, a newly remodeled marina, and three pools and waterfalls. The luxury hotel also boasts a spa, fitness center, water taxi, boat rentals and fishing charters, two tennis courts, and a complimentary beach shuttle.

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Photos: A ghastly good time at The Mai-Kai’s sixth annual Hulaween party

Ghoulish, whimsical and Tiki-inspired costumes filled The Molokai bar on Halloween night during The Mai-Kai’s annual bash that celebrates all things creepy and kooky, aka Hulaween.

See below: Browse photos from the event

Slip and the Spinouts perform live music for the undead at Hulaween 2014

Slip and the Spinouts perform live music for the undead at Hulaween 2014. (Atomic Grog photo)

Popular South Florida rockabilly band Slip and the Spinouts had the house rockin’ all night long with three sets of classic covers and retro-inspired originals. Frontman Slip Mahoney led his band through a wide range of genres, from country to swing to blues and kept the dance floor filled with costumed partygoers.

Costumes were as creative as usual, with many playing off The Mai-Kai’s Polynesian theme. The winner in the costume contest adorned himself with a giant evil green head that appeared larger than many of the restaurant’s famous Tikis. The Count (aka general manager Kern Mattei) and Minnie Mouse’s evil sister Millie (aka marketing director Pia Dahlquist) once again hosted the festivities, with many prizes provided by sponsor Appleton Rum.

Appleton reps were also passing our free samples of The Mai-Kai’s Mai Tai, which features the brand’s always tasty 12-year-old dark Jamaican rum.

It was the first time in the event’s six years that Hulaween fell on Halloween night, giving lovers of Tiki, tropical and retro culture the perfect venue for their annual night of frightening fun.

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Epcot Food and Wine Festival continues to deliver delicious bites, a bounty of booze

As the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival approaches its 20th anniversary next year, it shows no signs of getting stale or losing momentum. Foodies flock to Disney World every fall for this massive event, which was expanded this year to 53 days. We hit dozens of food and beverage booths during a recent two-day visit, our first since 2012. If you’re visiting during the fest’s last few days, or want to file away some tips for next year, check out the reviews below.

Hurricane Hayward samples the flavors of Brazil at the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Hurricane Hayward samples the flavors of Brazil at the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. (Atomic Grog photo)

2014 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival: Through Nov. 10 at Disney World, Buena Vista, Fla. Access to the festival marketplace is free with theme park admission; food, seminars, and special events are priced individually. More at EpcotFoodFestival.com.

The festival is believed to be the largest food and wine event of its kind in the world, and its size and scope can be overwhelming. More than 250 food-and-beverage menu items are available (priced from $3 to $8) at 36 booths and kiosks encircling Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon amid the 11 permanent international pavilions. It’s a great atmosphere for sampling the food and drinks from more than 25 international regions, with many nearby diversions such as acrobats, musicians, and Disney’s famous attractions.

There are also nearly 400 culinary, wine and beverage demonstrations featuring hundreds of the industry’s top experts; concerts starring a wide array of retro rock, soul and blues bands; cultural exhibits; and special events such as food and wine pairings, VIP parties, special breakfasts and lunches with celebrity chefs, and much more. Many fans spend multiple days or weeks exploring everything the festival has to offer, making it the centerpiece of their vacation every year. It’s also a popular destination for central Florida locals, especially on weekends.

Tony Abou-Ganim (left) and Dale DeGroff present a mixology seminar at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Disney World on Sunday, Nov. 2

Tony Abou-Ganim (left) and Dale DeGroff present a mixology seminar at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Disney World on Sunday, Nov. 2. (Atomic Grog photo)

The seminars, which are reasonably priced and sometimes free, cover a wide range of topics, from obscure wines to culinary demos featuring Food Network stars such as Robert Irvine. My personal interest lies in cocktails, so when planning our trip I went straight for the list of mixology seminars. I was excited to pick up tickets to a demonstration featuring one of the biggest names in modern mixology, Dale “King Cocktail” DeGroff. When we arrived, we found out that he was sharing the stage with another pioneer of the modern cocktail revival, Tony Abou-Ganim.

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Take a trip through the history of surf culture with Cutback, ‘Surfers Journey’ CD

In South Florida, where bands and musical trends come and go faster than the annual influx of tourists, there’s one comforting constant for lovers of the never-say-die genre of instrumental surf rock: Four guys who call themselves Cutback. The band will celebrate the culmination of years of hard work this fall with the release of a 17-track CD, Surfers Journey.

*** Friday, Nov. 7 – Cutback CD release party in The Molokai bar at The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale. Free admission. Happy hour 5 to 7 p.m. Live music and drink specials all night.

Cutback CD release party at The Mai-Kai

The members of Cutback (guitarists Rich LaVoir and Frank Ferraro, bassist Nicky Ravine, and drummer Elliott Crawford) have been surfing and playing music for more than 30 years. Since the band’s debut in 2002, the goal was simple: Take listeners on a musical journey that showcases the history of surfing and the influence of surf culture.

Surfers Journey includes 14 original compositions by the band, including Surf Fever, Tubo Mexicana, 151 Rum Swizzle, and Conan the Surfarian. With its roots firmly planted in surf-rock history, the band puts its own spin on the genre with rock guitar flourishes and undeniable chemistry and tightness.

A mainstay for years during The Mai-Kai’s Friday night live music showcases, Cutback has finally documented its original music in a sonically impressive CD with packaging on par with any record-label release. Go to CutbackSurfband.com to hear song samples or pick up a pre-release copy of the album at Deep Eddy Records. It will be available on iTunes on Nov. 7.

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Book makes waves by giving Florida’s rich surfing history its due

When you examine the sport of surfing and its surrounding culture, Florida is sometimes overlooked while hot spots such as California and Hawaii grab the spotlight. A new book released in May could go a long way toward changing that perception.

Surfing Florida: A Photographic History, by Paul Aho, 272 pages, $31.95, University Press of Florida. Also available via Amazon, at regional surf shops and local book stores. See also: Facebook page

Surfing Florida: A Photographic History

The book follows an impressive gallery exhibit, also called Surfing Florida: A Photographic History, that debuted at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton in March 2012. The exhibit of rare photos, surfboards, video, music and interviews made the rounds of galleries throughout the state in 2012 and 2013 to much acclaim.

The exhibit will become a permanent part of the Palm Beach County Surfing History Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, documenting and exhibiting the history of Florida surfing. The group’s website says the expansive displays will be available only for non-profit, educational purposes, so donations are encouraged.

Past Atomic Grog coverage
* Surfing rides new wave of interest thanks to FAU exhibit
* FAU’s surfing exhibit closes with a splash
* Florida at forefront of surf rock’s contemporary renaissance

If you missed the exhibit and/or wish to take a deeper dive into Florida’s colorful surfing scene (past and present), the book is highly recommended. It goes into much more depth and includes a broader and more detailed look at the men and women who make the scene unique. It’s loaded with great stories and photos by many contributors including some of surfing’s top photographers.

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The Mai-Kai’s annual festively frightening Hulaween party lands on Halloween night

For the first time since launching one of the most intimate and authentic Halloween parties in South Florida in 2009, The Mai-Kai will host this year’s bash on the night of All Hallows’ Eve. Fort Lauderdale’s legendary Polynesian restaurant will be crawling with Tiki-fied ghouls and zombies on Halloween night during its sixth annual Hulaween in The Molokai bar.

*** Friday, Oct. 31 – Hulaween 2014 featuring Slip and the Spinouts at The Mai-Kai, 3599 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. (954) 563-3272. Free admission. Happy hour 5 to 7 p.m. Live music and costume contest in The Molokai bar, 7 p.m.-midnight.
* Facebook event | Past coverage, photos on The Atomic Grog

Hulaween 2014 at The Mai-Kai

Until this year, the festive event never landed on Halloween night itself. Will The Mai-Kai’s ancient Tiki gods be pleased or annoyed? You’ll have to attend the party to find out. The eerie event, sponsored by Appleton Rum, starts at 5 p.m. and features live music by South Florida roots rockers Slip and the Spinouts, a costume contest, deadly drink specials and retro Halloween tunes during happy hour.

The haunted happy hour runs from 5 to 7 p.m., with most of the bar’s dangerous tropical drinks, such as the Shrunken Skull and Shark Bite, priced at 50 percent off. Also half-priced are the tasty Polynesian appetizers such as the Pupu Platter, ribs, chicken, shrimp and salads. Check The Atomic Grog’s Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide for other deadly treats.

Also during happy hour and until Slip Mahoney and his band of costumed characters take the stage, The Atomic Grog will be programming more than 2 hours of retro Halloween-themed tunes, from early blues and exotica to jazz, rockabilly and surf. This will be the band’s fourth Hulaween appearance, a testament to its popularity and staying power as torch-bearers of the South Florida rockabilly scene. Slip and the Spinouts is The Mai-Kai’s go-to party band that always knocks ‘em dead.

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