What do you get when you combine the hippest Halloween party with the world’s most acclaimed and historic Tiki bar? Hulaween, of course. The seventh annual celebration of all things creatively creepy, kitschy and cool returns to The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, Oct. 30, for “Night of the Zombie.”
UPDATE: See a full recap and photos of the party
*** Friday, Oct. 30 – Hulaween 2015 – Night of the Zombie 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
Rising from the ground at 5 p.m. and lurching past midnight, the ghoulish event will feature a costume contest with $600 cash and special prizes to the winners, drink specials and Appleton Rum giveaways. South Florida favorite Slip and the Spinouts will perform three sets of roots and rockabilly tunes beginning around 7.
The Molokai bar in the iconic Polynesian restaurant, established in 1956 and recently named to the National Register of Historic Places, will be transformed into a rockin’ retro shindig with The Mai-Kai’s acclaimed Tiki cocktails and classic pupu platters sharing the spotlight with the lively crowd of undead revelers.
You can enjoy the bar’s many deadly tropical drinks, such as the Black Magic and Shrunken Skull, for half price until 7. Like every Friday, the Jet Pilot and Shark Bite will be 50 percent off all night.
Hulaween will also honor the infamous Zombie, an iconic concoction invented by Don the Beachcomber in the 1930s. The Mai-Kai’s version of the Zombie is a direct descendant of the original, featuring a potent mix of 151, dark and gold rums plus an injection of spices and anise that will send chills down your spine. For Night of the Zombie, The Mai-Kai is introducing the Appleton Zombie, a special version of the drink featuring sponsor Appleton Estate Jamaican rum. This premium cocktail will be half-priced during happy hour and $10 the rest of the night. Click here to see all The Mai-Kai cocktails featuring Appleton Rum.
Also half-priced from 5 to 7 will be The Mai-Kai’s Polynesian appetizers and small plates, including favorites such as the Pupu Platter (Shanghai Chicken, Egg Roll, Crab Rangoon and Tahitian Cheese Tangs), Barbecued Pork Tenderloin, Blackened Shrimp, and Oysters Rockefeller. The Mai-Kai has also re-introduced a tasty selection of sushi rolls to the menu: Vegetarian, Spicy Hamachi, Spicy Shrimp, and Mai-Kai Dragon.
If you prefer a full-on vintage dining experience, make reservations for a meal in one of The Mai-Kai’s dark and secluded dining rooms, or outside near a waterfall in the Tiki garden. In honor of Halloween, ask to be seated in the Samoa Room near the displays containing actual shrunken skulls. Even if you stalk the bar all night, be sure to take a break for a zombie walk through the restaurant and torch-lit garden to see the historic sights. For a true Mai-Kai experience, make advance reservations to have dinner in the showroom to enjoy the famous Polynesian Islander Revue (est. 1961), the longest-running authentic South Seas stage show in the United States, including Hawaii.
The members of the Critiki website have ranked The Mai-Kai as the best Tiki bar in the world in a recent review of the website’s more than 50,000 ratings of 850+ Tiki bars, restaurants and hotels around the world. Ranked on everything from drink quality to decor, The Mai-Kai scored an overall 9.8 rating (out of 10).
During happy hour from 5-7 p.m., sponsor The Atomic Grog will curate a playlist of classic Halloween-inspired tunes, from jazz to exotica to surf, garage rock and beyond. After 7, Slip and the Spinouts will crank up the volume with a wide selection of covers and originals. The band has performed at four of the previous six Hulaween parties, and they always get into the spirit of the event with costumes and high-energy shows.
From 7 to 9, also look for the Appleton girls serving sample cocktails (usually it’s the tasty Mai Tai) and giving away Appleton Rum trinkets and gifts.
After the second set by Slip and the Spinouts around 10 p.m., don’t miss what’s usually the highlight of the party: The parade of costumes and announcement of the prizes. This year’s top prize for the best costume is $300 cash plus a $50 gift certificate from The Mai-Kai. Second place will receive $200 and third $100. Thanks to Appleton for the cash prizes. There will also be additional prizes, including a Tiki mug and Big Kahuna Pass to The Hukilau 2016, the 15th annual Tiki weekender coming June 8-12 to The Mai-Kai and Fort Lauderdale’s Pier 66 hotel. The Hukilau’s co-founder, Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White collaborated with The Mai-Kai on the creation of Hulaween in 2009.
Be sure to stick around after the contest for one last rousing set by Slip Mahoney and his band as they keep the party going past the witching hour. The band covers all the classic tunes you love, from rockabilly to Western to swing, surf, blues and roots rock.
The 2015 Hulaween flyer and poster – created by artist Fred Lammers of Oslo, Norway – were commissioned by White and sponsor The Hukilau. Lammers is a popular artist in the Tiki, surf and hot-rod communities.
The Mai-Kai is at 3599 N. Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale, on the west side between Commercial and Oakland Park boulevards. Call (954) 563-3272 for more information or to make dinner reservations.
Online: Official website | Facebook page
Slip and the Spinouts: Official site | Facebook page
The Atomic Grog
* 2014 recap, photos: A ghastly good time at The Mai-Kai’s sixth annual Hulaween party
* 2013 recap, photos: Partygoers raise hell at The Mai-Kai’s fifth annual Hulaween
* 2012 recap, photos: Hulaween was hoppin’ all night at The Mai-Kai
* See all the past Hulaween coverage
More Hulaween photos
* 2011 | 2010 | 2009
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* We be Jammin: Rum Renaissance Zombie fest at The Mai-Kai
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* The Okole Maluna Society: The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide