Late March was punctuated by upheaval in the Tiki bar world, including a fire at Lost Lake in Chicago and the confirmed closing of Trader Vic’s in Portland. We also have updates on the upcoming Pacific Seas in Los Angeles and False Idol in San Diego, among others. Event previews include The Atomic Grog’s fifth anniversary party, Ohana: Luau at the Lake, and Tiki Kon. We investigate the rumored return of Lemon Hart, the upcoming Midwest Rum Festival, plus more rum news. Quick sips include Thor joining the Tiki Farm team, a new bar at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, a new Tiki-flavored pulp novella, and the aborted end of a re-creation of the voyage of the Kon-Tiki. Regular features spotlight legendary carver Milan Guanko; longtime Tiki entertainer King Kukulele; the historic Tiki bar La Mariana Sailing Club in Honolulu; and the video series Rum Minute. The rum the week, Sailor Jerry, is featured in the Wicked Wahine cocktail.
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* Weekly features: Artist | Band/music | Bar | Website | Rum | Cocktail | Events
TIKI BAR NEWS: Lost Lake hit by fire, Trader Vic’s Portland closing confirmed; changes coming to South Florida’s Kreepy Tiki, Psycho Suzi’s owner honored
A near tragedy struck acclaimed Tiki bar Lost Lake in Chicago on March 27, when what was originally thought to be a small electrical fire in the kitchen ended up causing extensive smoke damage that kept the year-old establishment closed for weeks. “The Chicago Fire Department put out a fire that was moments away from taking our beloved Tiki bar all the way down – not to mention two apartments upstairs,” Shelby Allison, who runs the bar with Paul McGee, posted on Facebook. “There are lots of very scientific cleaning methods happening at Lost Lake this week, but it could have been so much worse.” According to reports on a A GoFundMe page, the kitchen of the adjoining Thank You restaurant and the front entrance “were completely incinerated” while the bar suffered smoke damage that sadly forced the disposal of the bar’s vast rum collection. Lost Lake, which was recently nominated for a prestigious James Beard Award, received an outpouring of support from the entire Chicago hospitality community in the wake of the fire, from bartenders and bar owners to chefs, distributors, and brands. Bars as far away as Los Angeles also held Lost Lake support events. Allison reported that every member of Lost Lake’s support staff received temporary positions, and many bars hosted special pop-ups to keep the tip-based employees afloat. Special T-shirts were printed, with all profits going to Lost Lake bartenders. The GoFundMe page campaign received 309 donations and raised $20,000 for Lost Lake employee aid.
* More coverage online: Critiki | Time Out Chicago | DNAinfo
* Lost Lake: Official website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Don’t miss: McGee and Allison will return to The Hukilau in June, participating for the second year in a row in the sold-out Tiki Tower Takeover at the Pier 66 hotel in Fort Lauderdale. [2015 coverage]
A fire earlier in March had more devastating effects the Portland Trader Vic’s franchise, as reported in the previous edition of the Week in Tiki. The March 2 fire at the medical office above the 8,000-square-foot restaurant burned through most of the ceiling in the bar and dining room, causing damage that would have closed the restaurant for at least eight weeks for repairs, according to reports. Instead, the owner decided that due to mounting debt and high operating costs, he would close permanently. Weeks went by without an official statement from the franchise owner, but on March 21, J. Clayton Hering posted this on Facebook: “It is with a heavy heart that I inform you of the decision to close Trader Vic’s in Portland after four and a half years. This is effective immediately. We can be proud that we provided an excellent entertainment venue to our customers, families, and private parties. Our menu for appetizers, food and drink as well as our atmosphere were a unique addition to the Portland restaurant scene. Our customers enjoyed Trader Vic’s return to Portland because of the fun environment we created which was unique to the city and well received. We thank you for your support over the last four and a half years.” There was no word on what became of the extensive Tiki-themed decor, though in past Trader Vic’s closings most of the major art pieces were returned to the Trader Vic’s corporation. A dozen black walnut dining room tables later turned up on Craigslist. Of the 20 remaining Trader Vic’s locations, only two are in the United States while 18 are overseas. The Atlanta franchise is still going strong after 40 years, while the corporate-owned flagship location has been in Emeryville, Calif., for 44 years. The original Trader Vic’s was opened by Victor Bergeron in Oakland in 1937.
* Why Trader Vic’s closed its Portland location (The Oregonian)
A two-night event dubbed “Deth to Kreepy Tiki,” held March 18-19 at Kreepy Tiki Lounge in Fort Lauderdale, signaled the beginning of a new era at the indie music venue. Originally conceived as a lounge for the adjacent Kreepy Tiki Tattoos, the bar has over the past five years become more independent and created its own identity as both a live concert venue and (under the guidance of new owner Ayme Harrison) a Tiki cocktail hotspot. The bar made a fine showing at The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival on Feb. 26 (see full coverage). With a new talent buyer on board, “Kreepy Tiki has been ramping up its event programming with even more diverse musical offerings,” according to a story in New Times Broward-Palm Beach. The March event gave guests a chance to “celebrate the past and the bright promises of a new future,” Nayra Serrano told New Times. Kreepy Tiki will also “undergo a total transformation in the coming months, complete with a new name (distinct from Kreepy Tiki Tattoos), an expansion, and a full rebrand,” the story said. Serrano later told me that September is the target date for the re-launch, and that the existing lounge will stay open during the transition, which will include expanding the capacity for concerts (currently maxed out at 150). The renamed bar/lounge/concert venue will also welcome a new neighbor in a warehouse space in the same building: South Florida Distillers (makers of the award-winning Fwaygo Rum) will be moving from its current Fort Lauderdale location, Serrano said.
* Kreepy Tiki Lounge: Official website | Facebook page | Twitter | Instagram
Don’t miss: Kreepy Tiki will be hosting the Thursday night after-party on June 9 during The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale. Harrison and her bartenders will also be serving a “welcome punch” before the Tiki Tower Takeover at the Pier 66 hotel earlier that evening.
Leslie Bock, owner of Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge in Minneapolis, was named to the annual “Power 20” list of local industry leaders by Restaurant Business magazine. Bock, who also owns Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den and Betty Danger’s Country Club, is known for creative (and profitable) “off-beat concepts,” according to her Power 20 profile. “The fashion-designer-turned-tattoo-shop-owner-turned-restaurateur sees foodservice as another medium for art,” the profile says. “And for her, Minneapolis is the ideal canvas.”
COMING SOON: Pacific Seas in L.A., False Idol in San Diego, new Tiki-inspired establishments
Work has finally begun on the Pacific Seas Tiki bar, under construction inside the historic Clifton’s in Los Angeles, according to our friends at Poly Hai. As we originally reported back in December, legendary Tiki bar builder Bamboo Ben Bassham is working on the project, named for the original Clifton’s (aka Clifton’s Pacific Seas, 1939-1960). Though no opening date has been announced, interest is high in the new fourth-floor bar in the 47,000-square-foot, multi-level space. The Clifton’s gift shop has been selling blue and green clamshell Tiki bowls made by Tiki Farm and branded “Pacific Seas,” Poly Hai reports.
Another highly anticipated West Coast Tiki bar being built this year is False Idol in San Diego, also previewed in December. A joint effort of Martin Cate (Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco) and San Diego’s CH Projects (best known for Polite Provisions and Noble Experiment), False Idol will be tucked away inside the revamped Craft & Commerce restaurant. The owners tapped another renowned builder, Bosko Hrnjak, to help bring this highly immersive bar to life. On March 24, Bosko posted on Facebook that “with all the work we’re creating for False Idol it’s safe to say it will be the most intensely carved Tiki environment ever.” That says a lot coming from a carver who’s worked on many of the top bars of the Tiki revival.
The Hatch, a Tiki bar from well-regarded Orange County, Calif., restaurateur Leonard Chan, was scheduled to open at Union Market Tustin, between Santa Anna and Irvine. “The full-service restaurant features mod design and wall decals by famed commercial artist Shag,” the Orange County Register reported. The menu includes “creative sliders, craft beer and Tiki-style cocktails.” Also on the menu: Classic Hawaiian-inspired Loco Moco.
A “sprawling, Tiki-themed resort” will rise in the sleepy riverfront Washington town of Kalama (pop. 2,500), according to Portland Monthly. Renderings of the planned resort north of Portland don’t appear to be particularly “Tiki,” but the town does have some South Seas heritage. It’s apparently named for John Kalama, a native of Maui who found work two centuries ago at the Hudson Bay Company, the story says. The 40-room hotel is modeled after Maui’s Pioneer Inn. It will be run by McMenamins, which operates 65 brewpubs, breweries, music venues, historic hotels, and theater pubs across the Pacific Northwest. If all goes well, it will open in 2017.
A rum distillery and Tiki bar is expected to open in September 2017 at the Wharf, a multibillion-dollar project on the Southwest Waterfront in Washington, D.C. Potomac Distilling Co. will include a retail shop and three bars, including one “on a grassy rooftop space outfitted with tiki torches and a fire pit,” according to a story in The Washington Post. The distillery is the brainchild of bartender Todd Thrasher, who hopes to produce four rums in a 200-gallon still. “It’s all going to be one big experiment. I hope it works,” he told The Post. Plans call for his own line “Thrasher’s Rum” and a bar serving rum-based cocktails and “chef-driven takes on poke, Spam and other Hawaiian favorites.” Thrasher admitted that he was “worried about doing tiki,” the story says. “I don’t want to do cheesy tiki,” he said. “I want to do kind of an updated version of tiki.”
EVENT PREVIEWS: The Atomic Grog’s fifth anniversary party, Tiki Luau & Pig Roast in Chicago, Ohana: Luau at the Lake and Tiki Kon updates
The Atomic Grog celebrates its fifth anniversary on Saturday, April 30, with a special cocktail party in The Molokai lounge at The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale featuring live instrumental surf music from Skinny Jimmy Stingray, drink specials, giveaways, and more. The party runs from 6 to 10 p.m. Skinny Jimmy will play three solo sets starting at around 6:30. In between sets, Jimmy and Hurricane Hayward will spin their favorite instro surf, exotica and retro tunes. They’ll also preview The Hukilau 2016 with music from the artists performing at the June 8-12 event at The Mai-Kai and Pier 66 hotel. There will also be a Mai-Kai trivia contest with two winners receiving four-day Aloha Passes for The Hukilau. They’ll give away some other goodies, including Atomic Grog T-shirts (see photo). In a tribute to The Atomic Grog, the Yeoman’s Grog will be half-price all night. And as a bonus for fans of the Okole Maluna Society, a special “lost cocktail” will be available (between 6 and 7 p.m. only): The Demerara Float.
* See the full preview | Facebook event
In honor of the James Beard Foundation Awards celebration, Three Dots and a Dash and bartender Julian Cox will host the acclaimed Chicago bar’s second annual Tiki Luau & Pig Roast on Sunday, May 1, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Also joining the party will be top mixologists from around the country, including James Beard Award nominees Maison Premiere (Brooklyn) and The Patterson House (Nashville). In addition to the pig roast, Three Dots will offer a variety of Polynesian-inspired snacks. DJ Walshy Fire of electronic music group Major Lazer will provide “cool tiki vibes.” A portion of the proceeds will benefit the James Beard Foundation. The 2016 James Beard Awards Gala will take place Monday, May 2, at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Among the other nominees for Award Outstanding Bar Program is Chicago Tiki bar Lost Lake, led by former Three Dots and a Dash creator Paul McGee.
Ohana: Luau at the Lake announced the bands performing at the June 23-26 event at The Tiki Resort in Lake George, N.Y. It’s a solid lineup including several returning favorites (Waitiki and 9th Wave), several regional rockers (Tsunami of Sound and The Séparatwists), plus several new faces (Roland Remington and The Evil Streaks).
* Official sites: LuauAtTheLake.com | Facebook page
Tiki Kon unveiled the finished sculpt for the official 2016 event mug by VanTiki, aka Sailor Cook. A date has yet to be announced for online sales, but it’s expected to be sometime in May. Event merchandise will be pre-sold for pickup at Tiki Kon (July 8-10 in Portland). This year’s theme is “Tribute to the USO,” a celebration of the early years of the United Service Organizations, the end of World War II, and the return of U.S. soldiers from the Pacific. It’s also Tiki Kon’s 15th anniversary. Tiki Kon also announced a special ticket geared toward locals, a Music & Symposium Weekend Pass offering access to the music, symposiums, vending, cocktails, atmosphere and fun for just $63.
* Official sites: TikiKon.com | Facebook page | Twitter
RUM NEWS: Lemon Hart returning to U.S. market?
A new chapter in the never-ending saga of one Tiki’s most beloved rums appears to be on the horizon with the apparent upcoming reintroduction of Demerara rums from Lemon Hart into the U.S. market. This thread on Tiki Central recaps all the latest news, which leaked out on Facebook with the posting of several new labels and expressions of the venerable rum, which was pulled from U.S. distribution in mid-2014. Robert A. Burr (Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, Robert Burr’s Rum Guide, Rum Minute) posted photos on the Global Rum Club group on Facebook of new labels for Lemon Hart’s 80-proof and spiced rums that he said are “soon to arrive” in the U.S. Josh Miller of Inu a Kena subsequently posted the 151 label, and Burr later posted that “the official line is that Lemon Hart 151 has not changed from the original formula.” Lemon Hart indeed seems to be gearing up for a re-launch, updating the official website with the new labels and introducing a new brand ambassador, bartender Shea Hogan from the The Shameful Tiki Room in Vancouver.
“Getting an opportunity to join the team of one of the most historically significant rum brands in the world was one I couldn’t pass up,” Hogan said in the announcement. “With a history of over 200 years, Lemon Hart has withstood the test of time by maintaining a high level of excellence, and celebrating its traditions. A single estate rum, owned by Canadians, it is our nations bridge to the Caribbean and to the past, which is something other rum brands, or any spirit brand for that matter, would kill for! I’m thrilled to be a new part of Lemon Hart’s story, and to do what I can to ensure this piece of living history is shared with and enjoyed by everyone, so it can continue to live on.”
Lemon Hart 151, the historically significant dark overproof rum from Guyana, had been undergoing a small revival in Tiki cocktail circles since it was re-introduced in early 2011. It’s a crucial ingredient in such classic cocktails as the Zombie and 151 Swizzle. Commonly referred to as the “red label” version of Lemon Hart 151, it was imported by noted rum expert Ed Hamilton (Ministry of Rum and Caribbean Spirits) after the brand was sold by French spirits giant Pernod Ricard to Mosaiq of Montreal.
But Mosaic decided to pull back and stop distributing the 151 rum in the U.S. due to its status as a niche product, leading Hamilton to release his own rums from Guyana in the interim. All rums from Guyana are the product of the venerable Demerara Distillers, the only remaining source of sweet and smoky Demerara rums. Even though the new rums from Lemon Hart have returned to a yellow label, it’s expected that the 151 rum will be similar to the red label blend. Regardless of the slight variations in the blends, a new 151 rum from Lemon Hart will be a welcome addition to Tiki bars everywhere.
* Official sites: LemonHartRum.com | Facebook page
* The Atomic Grog: More on the Lemon Hart and Hamilton rums at The Mai-Kai
RUM ROUNDUP: Single Barrel Fwaygo released, inside Jamaica’s distilleries, Midwest Rum Festival preview
South Florida Distillers (Fort Lauderdale’s oldest distillery), celebrated its one-year anniversary with the release of a special bottling of Single Barrel Fwaygo on March 24. Aged just a little over a year, this 92-proof, twice-distilled rum gets its dark toffee color from the charred oak barrels. “The flavor we’ve arrived at is very unique and almost fools you into thinking you’re drinking a bourbon,” head distiller Joe Durkin told New Times Broward-Palm Beach. “It’s got a really strong, smoky front end that moves into rum-like notes of sweet toffee, caramel, and vanilla on the back end. We like to think of it as getting the best of both worlds.” Single Barrel Fwaygo later made a splash at the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, picking up a gold medal in the Premium Aged Rum category (see story). The distillery’s flagship rum, Fwaygo White, was honored for the second year in a row at the festival. The Single Barrel rum is available at the distillery while supplies last. The white rum can be found at bars and restaurants throughout South Florida.
Cocktail Wonk (a previous Website of the Week) takes a fascinating look inside many of Jamaica’s legendary rum distilleries in a series of blog posts documenting a tour organized by the Authentic Caribbean Rum program in early 2016. Blogger Matt Pietrek ushers us behind the scenes, revealing the sights, sounds and tastes of the birthplace of some of the world’s most storied rums. If you have even the slightest interest in finding out how some of the world’s best rums are made, check out his these well-written reports from six different distilleries.
The Midwest Rum Festival returns for a second year on April 30, moving to Chicago (from Louisville) and featuring industry VIPs such as Richard Seale (Foursquare Distillery, R.L. Seale’s rum) from Barbados and global “rum ambassador” Ian Burrell from the U.K. The event is presented by TheRumLab.com, which also organizers rum fests in California and Puerto Rico. It includes tastings, an awards ceremony, seminars, music, food, and more. A special “Kupulau Hula” after-party includes live surf music and Tiki punches. Participating rums include Bacardi, Don Q, Abuelo, Blue Chair Bay, Goslings, The Real McCoy, Koloa, Panama-Pacific, Zacapa, Caliche, Mount Gay, Mezan, Cartavio, Duran, Tanduay, Pusser’s, Clément, Plantation, Diplomatico, and more.
QUICK SIPS: Thor joins Tiki Farm team, new bar at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, a pulp novella with a Tiki twist, Kon-Tiki re-creation ends with rescue
Artist Tom Thordarson (aka Thor) announced that “after almost 30 years designing rides and attractions for the themed entertainment industry (Disney Imagineering, Universal Studios Hollywood, and many others), my creative focus will now be to support my good friend Holden Westland and his incredible staff and company at Tiki Farm.” His Facebook post noted that he’ll still be a consultant for his past career, and still create paintings and personal projects, but his primary focus will be “on designing and creating things that speak to my heart! This will be a ton of fun!” He added that his job will be to not just realize his design ideas, but support Westland “in seeing that the styles of the best talent in our community of Tiki artists, and more can translate and realize their magic in the form of products that will be enjoyed by thousands.” Westland, owner and founder of the groundbreaking mug design and manufacturing company, responded with the promise: “Expect some magic!”
The new pool and bar finally officially opened at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort on March 17, though it had been having “soft openings” for more than a week prior. One of the final major pieces in a massive renovation of the 44-year-old Disney World resort, the Oasis Pool refurbishment had been in the works for the past year in the wake of the opening of the Bora Bora Bungalows, Trader Sam’s and other major additions. The Oasis Bar and Grill becomes the resort’s fifth bar (if you count Trader Sam’s as two), joining the main Barefoot Pool Bar, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Tiki Terrace, plus the longstanding Tambu Lounge. However, unlike the others, the new bar is restricted to guests as the resort since it’s behind the pool’s gate that’s accessible only with a valid room key. The menu inclues a variety of small bites (Kalua Pork Sliders, Chili-Spiced Asian Sticky Wings, Grilled Sustainable Fish Tacos) and cocktails (Pago Pago Painkiller, Frosty Pineapple, Banana Cabana), some unique to that location. Get the latest updates on the Polynesian on Tikiman’s website and Facebook page.
A new e-book released March 19 marks the debut of a new fictional private eye named Dirk Daiquiri, who fights crime in 1950s San Francisco. Dirk Daiquiri in: The Dancing Mai Tai was written by Darren Long (leader of the band The Tiki Delights) and illustrated by Eric October. Fellow pulp novelist Will Viharo said in a review that “every detail is right on the money, from the colorfully realized characters to the swingin’ sounds of Sinatra to the iconic exotica of Martin Denny and Tiki Bob’s to the mean, misty, neon-lit streets of mid-century San Francisco. Highly recommended for all devotees of retro pop culture, tiki-lounge-beatnik aesthetics, and classical pulp fiction.” Long, who grew up in San Francisco a bit later than the era depicted his story, said the idea was to show of the beauty of the city. “San Franciso is not just the backdrop, it’s the co-star,” he said in an interview with Koop Kooper on the Cocktail Nation podcast. The aloha-shirt-clad Daiquiri is a wise-cracking, down-to-earth character modeled after more laid-back fictional detectives such as Peter Gunn and Jim Rockford. “It’s a really cool ride through San Francisco with a likeable character,” Kooper said. Long also revealed the name of the next chapter in the Dirk Daiquiri story: The Golden Chanteuse of Chinatown.
* Get the book now via Amazon
The saga of the Kon-Tiki-2, two balsa wood rafts that had been traversing the Pacific since November in an attempt to re-create Thor Heyerdahl’s legendary 1947 journey, ended abruptly on March 17 when they were swept up in strong currents hundreds of miles off Chile’s coast. The 14-member crew – which had been documenting ocean marine life, pollution and climate change – was forced to send out a distress signal asking for help, Mashable reported on March 18. A Chilean Navy merchant ship was dispatched after strong currents pulled the rafts far off course. “We realize that reaching South America will take too long and we prefer to evacuate to ensure safety for all,” said expedition leader Torgeir Higraff. The rafts had set sail on the final leg of their journey in early January from Easter Island, headed toward Chile. [See our previous coverage on the Easter Island arrival in December] The expedition began Nov. 7 in Peru, the rafts faithfully following Heyerdahl’s design and using 15th century technology. Experts had warned that rough seas made the return trip to South America unlikely to be completed. On March 25, several Kon-Tiki2 crew members, including Higraff, landed to a hero’s welcome in Oslo, Norway, according to the mission’s official website. Like Heyerdahl, Higraff is Norwegian, while other crew came from Peru, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia and Sweden. Heyerdahl, who was famously seeking to prove a theory that winds and marine currents allowed for prehistoric sailing trips between South America and Polynesia, became a legend after his 1948 book, The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas. The 1950 film Kon-Tiki won an Oscar for best documentary, cementing Heyerdahl and his raft as a mid-century Tiki touchstone. In 2006, Higraff led a one-way expedition that beat Heyerdahl’s time by 30 days. But the latest attempt fell short of re-creating the round-trip, which had never before been attempted.
* Mission recap: See photos and more at KonTiki2.com
A gallery exhibit in Los Angeles celebrated the style of mid-century modern design’s premier couple, Charles and Ray Eames. “Mad About Midcentury: Tribute to Eames” was hosted by the Nucleus art gallery through April 3, featuring new works by more than 20 artists inspired by the pair. The exhibit was intended to celebrate the Eames’ “far-ranging influence on everything from architecture and furniture to graphic design and film,” according to a story by Curbed.
***** Links of the week*****
* More Tiki treasures – The ‘Collecting Disneyland’ auction (The Tiki Chick)
* How a Polynesian paradise ended up in Cleveland (Tales of the Cocktail)
* America’s best bars for rum fans (USA Today)
* How to create your own tiki lounge at home (Tampa Bay Times)
* How to make flaming drinks (Critiki News)
* How Tiki is becoming cool again, plus the recipes you need to know (VinePair)
* Interview with Wayne Curtis, renowned rum writer & columnist (The Rum Lab)
* Why you still can’t get Cuban rum for your Mojito (The Daily Beast)
* One of the Caribbean’s best rum companies has been sold (Caribbean Journal)
* Rum:30 to be released at wolesalers convention (Business Review)
* A beginner’s guide to Navy-strength rum (Gizmodo)
* The world's best rum comes from these countries (Thrillist)
* Rum: Top 8 unbelievable health benefits (PPcorn)
ARTIST OF THE WEEK: Milan Guanko
One of the most admired mid-century carvers is perhaps best known today for the many tikis that still stand at the Kon Tiki in Tucson, Ariz. (est. 1963). Unfortunately, most of this prolific artist’s work disappeared along with the many classic Tiki establishments that displayed it: The Islands (Phoenix), Polynesian Village (Fort Worth), the Kapu Kai (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), among many others. A native of the Philippines, Guanko learned how to carve as a child before emigrating to the United States in 1928. His home base was Anaheim, in the shadows of the fledgling Disneyland, which supplied him with lots of lumber when land was cleared for Walt’s first theme park. His unique style, combining traditional elements with a more cartoonish approach to Polynesian idols, became one of the most influential (and copied) during Tiki’s heyday. His massive carvings inspired generations of artists, but they also became fodder for many mass-produced tikis. One of his distinctive carvings even inspired a pop culture icon, the famous “Kona” on a memorable episode of Gilligan’s Island. What little is known about Guanko and his work has been documented by urban archaeologist and author Sven Kirsten in The Book of Tiki and on the Tiki Central message board.
* Milan Guanko-inspired mugs from the Kon Tiki
* Archive of Milan Guanko Tiki mugs (Ooga-Mooga)
* See past artists of the week
BAND/MUSIC OF THE WEEK: King Kukulele
A familiar presence for the past two decades at the biggest events across the country, from Tiki Oasis in San Diego to The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale, comedian/actor/ukuleleist Denny Moynahan (aka King Kukulele) is considered by many to be master of ceremonies of the Tiki revival itself. In his trademark crown (a straw hat), aloha shirt, grass skirt and lei, King Kukulele is like a Vaudeville entertainer who seems to know everyone in the room. And he probably does. Moynahan is more comparable to Spike Jones than Jake Shimabukuro, strumming his ukulele while performing a non-stop stream of hapa haole and novelty songs peppered with one-liners and double entendres. In addition to Tiki events, he has opened Hollywood premieres and performed at Disneyland, Universal Studios and other major venues. Moynahan has also released three albums with his occasional band – King Kukulele And The Friki Tikis (2004), Live At Trader Vic’s (2007), and Luau in December (2008) – featuring a wealth of offbeat originals as well as classics such as House Of Bamboo and Mele Kalikimaka. An added bonus: All three feature cover artwork by Shag.
* Buy King Kukulele & The Friki Tikis music: Amazon | iTunes
* KingKukulele.com | Facebook page
* All past bands/music of the week
Don’t miss: King Kukulele will serve as emcee for the 15th straight year June 8-12 when The Hukilau celebrates its 15th anniversary and the upcoming 60th birthday of The Mai-Kai restaurant.
* Get tickets | Latest Atomic Grog coverage
BAR OF THE WEEK:
La Mariana Sailing Club, Honolulu
It’s a small miracle that this outpost of classic Tiki, established in 1957, has survived the onslaught of modern development in Hawaii, a 1975 move upshore, the death of its beloved original owner and multiple severe storms that whacked the waterfront location on the shores of Keehi Lagoon. Not only is La Mariana Sailing Club still alive with vintage decor intact, it’s thriving as a time capsule to another time. Despite its hidden location on a small piece of land between Honolulu Airport and downtown, the restaurant and bar draws a constant stream of locals and visitors alike with its authentic old-school feel and decor, lively piano bar, classic Tiki cocktails (Mai Tai, Zombie, Tropical Itch, Blue Hawaii), and solid Polynesian-style small bites. Since the death of Annette Nahinu at age 93 in 2008, La Mariana has continued to thrive while keeping her vision of a tropical hideaway alive in an ever more urban Honolulu. Annette once said: “It’s been here for 50 years, I want it to be here 50 years more.” [See video of Annette] It’s now run by a corporate trust she established before her death.
* Official website | Facebook | Twitter
* Critiki profile | Tiki Central discussion | YouTube video
* See past bars of the week
WEBSITE OF THE WEEK: Rum Minute
Most sons, when given the opportunity to follow their parents into a family enterprise, do so reluctantly and with a minimum of enthusiasm. But when you’re a member of Miami’s Burr family, organizers of the annual Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, it’s a different story entirely. In addion to the festival, an annual cruise and print/online guide to the world’s best rums, Rob V. Burr has teamed up with dad Robert A. Burr on a new venture launched earlier this year that speaks to his younger generation: A YouTube channel. As the name implies, Rum Minute is a concise look at new spirits that flow into the family’s home Rum Wreck Dive Bar, an impressive collection of more than 2,000 different rums. The videos capture the elder Burr giving his tasting notes and the younger Burr whipping up classic cocktails (Mai Tai, Hemmingway Daiquiri). Visitors to this year’s festival got a taste of what rum riches line those fully stocked shelves in the videos when the Burr boys (and their wife and mother, Robin V. Burr) shared some of their stash in a special VIP tasting bar. Based on our initial tastes, we have many more Rum Minutes to look forward to.
Rum Minute: Website | YouTube channel
* Related sites: Miami Rum Festival | Rob’s Rum Guide | Rum Wreck Dive Bar
* On The Atomic Grog: RumXP Awards announced at 2016 Miami Rum Festival
2015 Miami Rum Festival boldly explores the next frontier of cane spirits
* See past websites of the week
RUM OF THE WEEK: Sailor Jerry
Like its namesake, legendary tattoo artist Norman Collins (1911-1973), Sailor Jerry is a bold and vibrant rum. Bottled at 92 proof, it packs a much bigger punch than most spiced rums and is marketed as a spiced Navy rum. Yet it still retains classic spiced rum traits, a sweet and mild flavor with vanilla and cherry overtones. It offers the best of both worlds: Some heat and a nice throat burn for traditional rum-lovers, plus addtional spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.) for those who prefer flavored rums. As such, it’s a versatile spirit that can be sipped, mixed in a cocktail or enjoyed in a punch. Essentially a Spanish-style St. Croix rum, Sailor Jerry is distilled by Cruzan Rum Distillery in the U.S. Virgin Islands and bottled in the United States. The rum first hit the market in 1999 as part of a larger “lifestyle brand” focused on the legend, lore and artwork of Collins. Sailor Jerry Ltd. produces a full line of clothing and accessories. Fun fact: As you empty the bottle, you’ll discover pin-up girls designed by Sailor Jerry on the inside of the label.
* Sailor Jerry: Official site | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
* See all past rums of the week
Don’t miss: Sailor Jerry is one of the rum sponsors at The Hukilau, the annunal Tiki weekender in Fort Lauderdale on June 8-12. Enjoy tastings, special cocktails and more.
* Ticket info | Atomic Grog coverage
COCKTAIL OF THE WEEK: Wicked Wahine
(By Brice Ginardi, Okolemaluna Tiki Lounge, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii)
* 1 1/2 ounce spiced rum
* 1/4 ounce falernum
* 1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
* 1/4 ounce fresh lime juice
* 1/4 ounce passion fruit syrup
* 1/4 ounce grenadine
1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Source: Imbibe magazine, 2011
A complex combination of flavors (sweet, bitter and spicy) thanks to the bold Sailor Jerry Rum. Sour juices keep things in balance while the falernum adds an exotic flavor to the mix. The Peychaud’s bitters also brings a distinctive flavor to the table, a nice change of pace from Angostura.
SAVE THE DATE: Upcoming events
***** Across the U.S. *****
* April 30 – Midwest Rum Festival, Chicago, Ill.
* May 12-15 – Tiki Caliente, Palm Springs, Calif. [Atomic Grog coverage]
* July 8-10 – Tiki Kon, Portland, Ore. [Atomic Grog coverage]
* Aug. 5-6 – Hot Rod Hula Hop, Columbus, Ohio.
* Aug. 13 – Surf Guitar 101 Convention, California.
* Aug. 18-21 – Tiki Oasis, San Diego, Calif. [Atomic Grog coverage]
* Sept. 10 – California Rum Fest, San Francisco.
* Sept. 17 – Makahiki: A Night of Tiki, Indianapolis, Ind.
***** Worldwide *****
* May 19-21 – Surf O Rama Festival, Valencia, Spain.
* May 29 – St. Croix Rum Festival
* May 30 – June 2 – International Rum Congress, Madrid, Spain.
* June 16-19 – Surfer Joe Summer Festival, Livorno, Italy.
* Oct. 15-16 – German Rum Festival,, Berlin.
* Oct. 22-23 – The RumFest: London, United Kingdom.
* Nov. 4-5 – Caribbean Rum & Beer Festival, St. Maarten.
Keep us informed: If you have news or events to report, simply e-mail email@example.com and let us know what’s happening, along with any appropriate links. Feel free to send photos and flyers. You can also send a message via the Facebook page. If you post news or updates on a regular basis, let us know how to follow you (website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)