Topping the news is the upcoming 10-year anniversary special edition of Beachbum Berry’s Sippin’ Safari, plus new glassware just released. Upcoming event news includes Tiki by the Sea, Ohana: Luau At The Lake, Tiki Kon, Southern Surf Stomp, and the Surf Guitar 101 Convention. April’s highlights include Miami Rum Festival, The Atomic Grog’s fifth anniversary party at The Mai-Kai, the Bacardi cocktail competition, and many other events across the country. We have Tiki bar news from Chicago’s Lost Lake, San Francisco’s Smuggler’s Cove, plus a new “urban Tiki” concept in Brooklyn. Regular features spotlight San Diego artist Clee Sobieski; mysterious exotica pioneer Korla Pandit; and the influential Chicago location in the defunct Don the Beachcomber restaurant chain. The website of the week is home of the upcoming book Mai-Kai: History & Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant. Our rum of the week, Ron Diplomático Reserva, is featured in La Guildive by Martin Cate, a cocktail from his new book Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum and the Cult of Tiki.
* Keep up with The Week in Tiki: Facebook page | RSS feed | See past weeks | Archive
* Weekly features below: Artist | Band/music | Bar | Website | Rum | Cocktail | Events
Classic Beachbum Berry book to be re-imagined, new glassware available
Beachbum Berry’s Sippin’ Safari, the underrated classic 2007 cocktail book that helped set the stage for today’s robust revival of Tiki bars across the country, will be re-released in the fall as a 10-year anniversary special edition, the author confirmed. Former screenwriter Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s fourth book was his first full-color, story-driven guide to the history of tropical mixology.
It includes not only dozens of vintage tropical drink recipes, but also the fascinating stories and exclusive photos of some of the genre’s most talented yet under-appreciated barmen from the early and mid-20th century. Berry, the owner of the acclaimed Latitude 29 restaurant and Tiki bar in New Orleans, gave us a sneak peek of what we can expect:
“This edition will feature a new afterward taking readers through the 10 years after Sippin’ first appeared: The explosive Tiki cocktail revolution that no one saw coming in 2007, which was aided and abetted by the craft cocktail renaissance that grew on parallel tracks, ending with the opening of amazing new Tiki cocktail bars.” The book will be published by Cocktail Kingdom, which released Berry’s award-winning Potions of the Caribbean: 500 Years of Tropical Drinks and the People Behind Them in late 2013.
“It also features a new preface talking about what led up to the writing of Sippin’, covering the years 1964 to 2006,” Berry said via e-mail. “I’ve also added footnotes to the main text, and a bunch of additional recipes, both old and unpublished, and new ones from the Tiki revival.” It’s a revival that Berry had a large hand in spurring, from his early books (Grog Log, Intoxica) to his symposiums at Tiki and cocktail events across the world.
Potions of the Caribbean, which won the Spirited Award for Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book at Tales of the Cocktail in 2014, was originally intended to be the final chapter in Sippin’ Safari, detailing Tiki’s links back to the Caribbean. Berry used that idea as a jumping off point for a full-blown history book as told through cocktails, following the template established in the groundbreaking Sippin’ Safari.
The book tells the story of the men who toiled behind the scenes for Don the Beachcomber, Steve Crane and other giants of the early days of Tiki. It reveals the intriguing back stories of such mixologists as Ray Buhen (Tiki-Ti), Bob Esmino (Kon-Tiki) and Mariano Licudine (The Mai-Kai). The final chapter includes a revealing peek behind the scenes at at The Mai-Kai, exploring the grand vision of original owners Bob and Jack Thornton and detailing the early years via stories from Licudine’s son, Ron. Sippin’ Safari is definitely a must-have in any Tiki cocktail book collection.
Following the June 7 release of Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum and the Cult of Tiki by Martin Cate (see cocktail of the week below), Sippin’ Safari is poised to make this a banner year for epic tropical drink books by the godfathers of the movement.
* More on The Atomic Grog: Beachbum Berry interview
Potions of the Caribbean released | Website of the week
Meanwhile, some cool new glassware was added to the Beachbum Berry barware collection on the Cocktail Kingdom website. In late 2015, the premium barware company released its first custom mug for Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 in New Orleans: A 15-ounce coconut mug featuring the Latitude 29 logo that serves as a vessel for the bar’s Painkiller cocktail. It later was released online, along with a similar coconut mug featuring the Beachbum Berry logo. All of the coconut mugs, which harken back to classic vessels popularized by Trader Vic’s, are just $12.95 each, with steep discounts for bulk orders. Unlike the traditional Trader Vic’s coconut, the Cocktail Kingdom mugs developed in collaboration with Berry include a special hole for a straw.
More recently, Berry and Cocktail Kingdom scared up some new cocktailware that we’re dying to get our hands on: Beachbum Berry Zombie Glasses. These vintage-style 15-ounce glasses were uniquely designed for Don the Beachcomber’s original 1934 Zombie cocktail and the 1950 mid-century version, both unearthed after years of painstaking research by Berry. The 1934 recipe, especially, was considered one of the most significant classic recipe revelations of the modern Tiki era. First published in Sippin’ Safari., it shows off Donn Beach’s magic in creating one of the most popular and distinctive drinks in the early days of tropical mixology. The glasses come in a two-pack: One with the 1950 recipe, the other with the 1934 recipe. They’re $18.95 for the set, with discounts for larger orders.
You can also find both the mug and glasses at the restaurant just off of the French Quarter in the Bienville House Hotel, 321 N. Peters St.
* CocktailKingdom.com: Click here to order Beachbum Berry barware
Don’t miss: Beachbum Berry is returning to The Hukilau for the 11th straight year on June 8-12 in Fort Lauderdale. He’ll be mixing up cocktails (along with Latitude 29’s head bartender, Brad Smith) in the sold-out Tiki Tower Takeover along with many other top bar staffs (from Smuggler’s Cove, Tiki Mondays With Miller, Lost Lake and Fort Defiance). Berry’s “World War Tiki” symposium is also sold out, but you can get tickets for the “Raiders of the Lost Tiki Culture” panel discussion featuring the author and many other influential pioneers of the modern Tiki scene. He’ll also be signings copies of his books in the Cocktail Kingdom booth in the Tiki Treasures Bazaar, where you’ll also be able to pick up his books and merchadise.
* Buy tickets, passes | Schedule | Merchandise
* On The Atomic Grog: High Tide party, rum sponsor rundown, merchandise preview
EVENT PREVIEWS: Tiki by the Sea, Ohana: Luau At The Lake, Tiki Kon, Southern Surf Stomp, Surf Guitar 101 Convention
The second Tiki by the Sea is coming to the Barcelona Motel in Wildwood, N.J., on June 12-14 with a focus on the bar and beverage industry. Informative seminars include “Tiki 201: Advanced Coursework” by Martin Cate, author of the soon-to-be-released Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum and the Cult of Tiki. There’s also a tour of the beachside town’s historic mid-century properties.
Plans are ramping up for the eighth annual Ohana: Luau At The Lake on June 23-26 at The Tiki Resort in Lake George, N.Y., presented by the Fraternal Order Of Moai. Among the latest announcements: Seminars on exotica music and Easter Island, a yacht-rock themed cocktail contest sponsored by Deadhead Rum, plus more details on the event’s always memorable room crawl. The entertainment lineup features Waitiki, 9th Wave, Tsunami of Sound, The Séparatwists, Roland Remington, The Evil Streaks, DJ Swankenstein, and Brother Cleve. Other rum sponsors include Cockspur, Panama Pacific, El Dorado, Pusser’s, and Clément. The event is sold out, but a waiting list is available.
* Luau At The Lake links: Schedule | Vendors | Official mug | Facebook page
Organizers of Tiki Kon have been busy planning the 14th annual Pacific Northwest gathering on July 8-10, themed to the post-World War II era and the USO. Held for the first time at the Red Lion Hotel On The River in Portland, the event will feature live music and themed entertainment, Tiki and cocktail symposiums, a banquet dinner, an island marketplace, and a signature bar tour. The live entertainment schedule features a “Surf & Turf” show with the Hangten Hangmen and an Elvis tribute artist on Friday; and a USO-style variety show starring Tony Starlight on Saturday. Recently added: A book signing featuring Martin and Rebecca Cate (Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum and the Cult of Tiki); and the symposium “Raising the Bar” by Rod Moore, owner of The Shameful Tiki Room in Vancouver and Toronto.
Exclusive merchandise, including mugs by VanTiki, went on sale in the online gift shop to be picked up at the Tiki Kon merchandise booth.
* Tiki Kon links: Buy tickets | Book the hotel | Schedule | Facebook page | Twitter
A special Southern Surf Stomp will invade Atlanta’s Star Bar on July 30, featuring a rare appearance by surf rock legends The Space Cossacks. The band, which formed in 1996 in Washington, D.C., is reuniting for its 20th anniversary for only a few East Coast dates before they hit the West Coast (see below). The band broke up in 2000, reunited briefly for its 10th anniversary. The July 30 date also features The Mystery Men? and The Penetrators T.R.I.B.U.T.E. (featuring the seminal Atlanta band’s original rhythm section). The Space Cossacks also play July 29 at the Iota Club and Cafe in Arlington, Va., with the Atomic Mosquitos and Beachmover.
* Facebook event | YouTube video | Southern Surf Stomp podcast, events
The ninth annual Surf Guitar 101 Convention, scheduled for Aug. 13 in Torrence, Calif., will feature an all-star lineup of instrumental bands from across the globe. Performing at the Alpine Steinhaus will be The Phantom Four featuring John Blair (Netherlands, U.S.), Messer Chups (Russia), The Bradipos IV (Italy), George Tomsco of The Fireballs (New Mexico), The Space Cossacks reunion (Washington, D.C.), The Mach IV reunion (California), Tikiyaki 5-0 (California), Crazy Aces (Tennessee), Kelp (California), and The Secret Samurai (California). There will also be a tribute to The Original Surfaris and the annual Legends of Surf jam, featuring members of surf bands from the 1960s. If you want to catch more of The Space Cossacks, they also play the Purple Orchid in El Segundo (with Insect Surfers) on Aug. 12 and the Huntington Beach Pier on Aug. 14. Satellite events will spread across the entire region, from Aug. 5 in Seattle through Aug. 18 in Las Vegas.
* SG101 Convention: Official announcement | Facebook event
* The Atomic Grog’s website of the week
Rum in the spotlight at eighth Miami festival
The eighth annual Miami Rum Renaissance Festival wrapped up April 16-17 at the DoubleTree Hilton Miami Airport Convention Center with two full days of grand tastings and industry seminars. Hundreds of products were on display for the thousands of guests, including for the first time a full range of cachaças from Brazil. Organizers Robert A., Robin, and Robert V. Burr even opened up their private collection for attendees, who were treated to rare and exclusive rums in the VIP Tasting Bar.
Among the many rums available for tasing were Bahama Blue, Bayou, Blue Chair Bay, Caliche, Carmelita’s, Cartavio, Diplomático, Doc Brown’s, Don Q, Don Zavier, Duran, Dzama, Fwaygo, Gubba, Gunroom, John Watling’s, Koloa, Marauda, Mezan, Panama-Pacific, Pito Rico, Plantation, Puerto Angel, Pusser’s, Santeria, Siesta Key, Stroh, Tiburon, Wicked Dolphin, Wild Tiger, and Yolo.
Seminars spotlighted different styles (“Navy Rum: A Category of its Own” and “Clairin: The Authentic Cane Spirit of Haiti”), brands (“Mezan: A Rare Collection of Vintage Rums”) and regions (“Florida Rum Review”). There were also seminars on Tiki cocktails (by the Fraternal Order Of Moai) and two talks by the respected master distiller at Foursquare Distillery in Barbados, Richard Seale (“Rum’s Place in the Spirits World” and “A Primer on Distillation”).
Miami Rum Renaissance Festival returns to the Doubletree on April 22-23, 2017. Get updates on the official website and Facebook page.
Previous Atomic Grog coverage: Koloa, Plantation and Don Q dominate awards
See all of the awards, photos, more | The Mai-Kai pre-party, Santeria Rum cocktail recipe
2016 photos: Official flickr galleries | Miami New Times | Soul of Miami | Sobe Savvy
More press coverage
The judges chamber: Behind the scenes at Miami Rum Renaissance (Cocktail Wonk)
The Atomic Grog toasts fifth anniversary
at The Mai-Kai
Called a “boozy, retro culture blog” by SouthFlorida.com, The Atomic Grog toasted its fifth anniversary on April 30 with a rum-fueled 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 started with The Mai-Kai’s famous happy hour, followed by three solo sets by Skinny Jimmy. The Deerfield Beach guitarist jammed out on an eclectic mix of some of his favorite surf, rock ‘n’ roll and exotica songs, featuring everything from Duane Eddy’s Rebel Rouser to Herb Alpert’s The Lonely Bull to Blue Hawaii as performed by The Makaha Sons.
* Full recap, photos
MORE EVENTS: The Golden Tiki, Forbidden Island, Trader Vic’s Atlanta, Bacardi cocktail competition, Tiki-Ti, Don the Beachcomber’s Tiki Makeke
Danny Amis (aka Daddy-O Grande of Los Straitjackets) jammed with Thee Swank Bastards in front of a full house at the The Golden Tiki during the unofficial Viva Las Vegas closing party on April 19.
Forbidden Island in Alameda, Calif., marked its 10th anniversary with a full week of festivities April 21-28. Meshugga Beach Party kicked things off with its unique brand of live surf rock, followed by special DJ nights and the release of a special 10th anniversary mug by Tiki Diablo. The very limited edition run of 150 mugs, designed in the style of Barney West‘s work for The Mai-Kai, quickly sold out. Also released as part of the 10th anniversary, a new limited-edition mug designed by Doug Horne.
Trader Vic’s in Atlanta celebrated its 40th birthday on April 21 with a party featuring the retro garage rock sounds of the Disapyramids, plus Polynesian hula dancers. Guests who bought a Mai Tai went home with a keepsake 40th anniversary glass.
* At 40, Trader Vic’s still offers quick getaway to ‘Hawaii’ (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Don’t miss: Paul Senft of RumJourney.com will host a Tiki collectibles seminar at Trader Vic’s on June 18. He’ll discuss a range of Tiki items that people love to collect, plus the influence of the Trader Vic’s franchise over the years.
Gn Chan of Angel’s Share in New York City emerged victorious April 25 at the eighth annual Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition in San Francisco. He beat out 35 other bartenders from around the world in the week-long contest with his Venceremos cocktail. The Taiwanese mixologist took inspiration from the Pina Colada in creating his recipe that includes Bacardi Carta Blanca, coconut liqueur, pineapple juice, cucumber juice, lime juice and sesame oil. More: See YouTube video
* Press coverage: Drinks International
Cocktail Wonk | The Floating Rum Shack
The Cocktail Lovers
The legendary Tiki-Ti celebrated its 55th anniversary with a two-day bash April 28-29 that packed the tiny bar in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. “Tiki Ti always feels like the happiest place on Earth – there’s some sort of magical joy potion mixed into those fruity, slushy, boozy drinks,” said LA Weekly in a preview of the festivities. Noting the recent removal of smoking from the 50-seat bar, the story advises to “breathe deep, drink hard and wish this little shack a very happy birthday.”
The newly renamed Don the Beachcomber’s Tiki Makeke was held April 30 at Don the Beachcomber in Huntington Beach. OC Weeky posted a photo gallery of many of the participating artists, vendors and patrons. The event also served as a special countdown to Tiki Caliente in Palm Springs with a performance by Martini Kings, and Zen Tiki Lounge joining forces with The Quiet Village in recording a boozy podcast that both shows shared. The name change (from International Tiki Marketplace) differentiates the monthly event from the similar International Tiki Marketplace at the Garden Grove Elks Lodge. Organizers of the latter, who had been operating at Don the Beachcomber since 2012, moved their event last year. Don the Beachcomber continues hosting monthly events, giving members of the active Southern California two options for finding Tiki treasures. Look for regular updates on both events on Tiki Central:
* Tiki Makeke | International Tiki Marketplace
TIKI BAR NEWS: Lost Lake gives thanks, Smuggler’s Cove barrel sails away, ‘urban Tiki’ comes to Brooklyn
Chicago’s Lost Lake bounced back after a near-fatal fire closed the acclaimed cocktail spot for weeks, thanks to the help and support of the hospitality community. “We are humbled and inspired, and ready to pay these innumerable kindnesses forward,” said a Facebook post announcing the bar’s return on April 18. A blog post on the official website thanks the friends and bars that hosted the Lost Lake team for pop-ups and special events. It also thanks the companies that donated products along with the brand representatives, distributors, brewers, and distillers responsible for coordinating the donations. Also thanked were bars that offered extra shifts, and the many who donated and raised money. “And last, but most definitely not least, thank you to the Chicago Fire Department,” the post says. “Thank you for putting out a fire that would have been much worse had you not arrived so quickly, and thank you for keeping everyone safe. Lost Lake loves you and is eternally grateful.” Unfortunately, the attached takeout Chinese restaurant, Thank You, suffered damage that may keep it closed until the fall.
* Press coverage: Lost Lake reopens after fire (Chicago Tribune)
* Video: Tiki garnishes: A Shake up with Paul McGee and Shelby Allison (Tales 365)
* Lost Lake: Official website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Don’t miss: Lost Lake partners Paul McGee and Shelby Allison will be serving up a signature cocktail at The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale on June 9 as part of the sold-out Tiki Tower Takeover at the Pier 66 hotel. [2015 coverage]
After “more than 11,000 barrel mugs have sailed from our shores,” Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco announced the retirement of its iconic Tiki mug that dates back to before the acclaimed bar’s opening in 2009. Designed by Miles Nielsen of Munktiki, the highly detailed mug was the result of painstaking research into staves, hoops, bungs, and even the rivets on the hoops of rum barrels. In addition to limited Munktiki editions, it was produced in larger volumes by Tiki Farm in many different glazes over the years. The Farewell Edition, numbering 500 mugs, was released with a green and brown glaze and was expected to quickly sell out and become a collector’s item.
* Video: Martin Cate makes the Smuggler’s Cove Rum Barrel (YouTube)
See below: Martin Cate’s La Guildive, the cocktail of the week
Dromedary, a small “urban Tiki” bar, opened in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn on April 22 after months of delays. Owner Michael Lombardozzi says he was inspired by trips to Hawaii, according to a story on the Bedford + Bowery website. However, the decor is only “loosely based around the aesthetic of a Tiki bar” with “little hints of Hawaiian culture,” he said. The self-described “drinks guy” seems to have put a lot of effort into that end of the operation with offerings such as the Mount Kilauea Colada, which is designed to resemble the namesake volcano and includes allspice and absinthe. The Dromedary cocktail “pays homage to the eponymous canned date-nut bread that was popular in the ’50s, via ingredients like walnut-date orgeat, a ‘nutty’ Pedro Ximenez sherry, aged rum, and a topping of Bushwick Critter Bitters,” the story says. The Dromedary also offers an eclectic food menu (deviled eggs, pu-pu platter, arancini-style Spam musubi, furikake-seasoned popcorn), movie screenings, a weekend brunch and live entertainment. According to Bushwick Daily, guests have “turned out to celebrate the new spot in remarkably high numbers.” The review praises the “airy and attractive” space featuring a cabinet full of Tiki mugs, a vintage cigarette machine, and a rotating artists’ chalkboard. “It’s easy to get lost in the textures, colors, and aesthetics of Dromedary and to forget that the place is in Bushwick and not a decadent island oasis,” it says.
* More press coverage:
Sip Tiki cocktails from a marlin’s head at Dromedary Bar in Bushwick (Gothamist)
Creating tropical escape, minus the colonialist fantasy (The Village Voice)
* Related: The best Tiki bars and beach bars in NYC (Time Out New York)
* Dromedary Bar on Facebook
***** Links of the week*****
* The essential elements that comprise a Tiki bar (Difford’s Guide)
* Review: New Oasis Bar opens at Polynesian Village Resort (WDW News Today)
* Where to enjoy Tiki cocktails around D.C. this season (Eater)
* Flavour of the week: Shameful Tiki Room (Foodism)
* This is still the best bar in Chicago: Milk Room, revisited (Chicagoist)
* The neighborhood Bikini (part 1): From the outside in (Downtown Phoenix Journal)
* Interview with Ian Burrell, global rum ambassador (The Rum Lab)
* Exclusive interview with Wayne Curtis (Got Rum?)
* Summer guide to the best rums: What to sip, mix, and enjoy in a cool cocktail (Forbes)
* The resurgence of rum in South Florida (Venice)
* Rum Old Fashioneds upgrade the classic cocktail (Robb Report)
* S. Fla. Distillers want to make cannabis-infused rum (Broward-Palm Beach New Times)
* Welcome back, fassionola: The Hurricane’s long lost ingredient (Tales of the Cocktail)
* The wild and wacky ride of Disney legend Rolly Crump (Los Angeles Times)
ARTIST OF THE WEEK: Clee Sobieski
Influenced heavily by mid-century modern design and motifs, San Diego-based Clee Sobieski is a painter, cartoonist and illustrator who got the art bug at an early age. As a kid growing up in Southern California, he spent his time doodling and drawing with an affinity for dragons, monsters and spaceships. As an adult, he’s simply shifted his focus to Tiki, hula girls, Hawaii, cocktails, rockets, and pin-up girls. You can find him at Tiki events such as Tiki Oasis, Tiki Caliente, Don the Beachcomber’s Tiki Makeke and The Hukilau showing off his paintings, prints and other art pieces.
* Find Clee: Official site | Instagram
Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr
* See past artists of the week
Don’t miss: Meet Clee Sobieski (pronounced SEE-lee SOH-bee-ES-kee) and buy his artwork June 9-11 at The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale in the Tiki Treasures Bazaar. Located in the historic Pier 66 hotel, the Bazaar features artists from around the country as well as rum companies offering up free samples and cocktails. It’s open to passholders Thursday (5:30-10 p.m.) and Friday (10 a.m.-8 p.m.), then free for the general public Saturday (10 a.m.-4 p.m.).
BAND/MUSIC OF THE WEEK:
An enigmatic performer who modern audiences may know from his cameo appearance in the 1994 cult movie Ed Wood, Korla Pandit (1921-1998) is an organist whose career began in the 1940s and is considered to be the world’s first “exotica” musician. With his sparkling jeweled turban and hypnotizing gaze, Pandit became a television star during the medium’s early days. His theatrical performances of popular tunes as well as East Indian compositions on organ and piano (often simultaneously) made him an exotic treat for his adoring fans, mostly countless housewives who remained glued to their TV screens. He never spoke in any of the 900 episodes of his 1950s TV program, successfully keeping his real identity hidden. He also performed in what some consider the first music videos, and recorded more than two dozen albums. Pandit was rediscovered in the 1990s and became a cult figure in the Tiki and lounge scenes, but his mysterious past remained a secret he took to his grave. Released in 2014, the biography Korla The Movie has pulled back the curtain on the secretive Pandit, drawing rave reviews and finally revealing the man behind the public persona.
* KorlaPandit.com | KorlaTheMovie.com | Facebook page
* All past bands/music of the week
Don’t miss: Korla The Movie will make its South Florida debut at The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, June 12, during the finale at The Mai-Kai restaurant from noon to 4 p.m. The event is included for most passholders, or $10 for non-passholders. Also on the Sunday schedule: Live surf music from Skinny Jimmy Stingray and “lost cocktails” from The Mai-Kai’s 1956 menu.
BAR OF THE WEEK:
Don the Beachcomber, Chicago
Opening in 1940, the Windy City outpost was the first expansion of the Don the Beachcomber empire outside of California. It opened just seven years after Donn Beach invented the concept of a faux Polynesian palace in Hollywood by merging South Seas decor with Caribbean-influenced rum cocktails and Cantonese cuisine. Located in Chicago’s Magnificent Mile neighborhood, Don the Beachcomber was a legendary hotspot for decades before closing some 30 years later. It was decked out in Beachcomber style with tons of bamboo and float lamps adorning its Tahitian and Zombie dining rooms, plus the Cannibal Room bar serving Donn’s famous cocktails. The bar featured black posts carved with a stacked trio of Tahitian cannibal Tikis. But the legacy of this restaurant extends far beyond its mid-century heyday, thanks to two young Chicago brothers who had a dream of opening the grandest Tiki palace of them all. Inspired by the mid-century Polynesian Pop craze in general and their hometown Don the Beachcomber in particular, Bob and Jack Thornton fulfilled their dream in Fort Lauderdale at The Mai-Kai, which they opened in 1956 with many of the key staff they hired away from Donn Beach in Chicago. They even co-opted the three cannibals as their iconic logo Tikis. Manager Robert Van Dorpe, chef Kenny Lee and mixologist Mariano Licudine helped the Thorntons set the standards that remain in place to this day under the guidance of Bob Thornton’s widow, Mireille, and her family.
* Don the Beachcomber (Chicago): Critiki profile | Tiki Central discussion
* Related bars of the week: Don the Beachcomber, Huntington Beach
The Molokai lounge at The Mai-Kai
* Previous coverage: Heeeeeeere’s the rich history and lost stories of The Mai-Kai
* See past bars of the week
Don’t miss: The connection between Don the Beachcomber in Chicago and The Mai-Kai is explored in depth in two upcoming books: Mai-Kai: History & Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant (see website of the week below) and Beachbum Berry’s Sippin’ Safari (see news above).
WEBSITE OF THE WEEK:
Mai-Kai: History & Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant
The upcoming hardcover book by Tiki historian and Mai-Kai devotee Tim “Swanky” Glazner is supported by a robust website that’s constantly updated with fascinating photos and stories from the rich 59-year history of the Fort Lauderdale landmark. The book is set for release in September, but in the meantime you can browse through many exclusive images, such as the gallery of celebrities who frequented the restaurant, the pin-up calendars featuring Mai-Kai waitresses, and the many promotional postcards. Among the other gems is a video preview of images from the book and Glazner’s upcoming presentation at The Hukilau with music by Toti, founder of The Mai-Kai Islanders. The 176-page book includes more than 400 photos commemorating The Mai-Kai’s 60th anniversary in December, and also features a foreword by Sven Kirsten, author of The Book of Tiki and Tiki Pop.
* The book: Official website | Facebook page | Pre-order via Amazon
* More on Facebook: Mai-Kai calendar girls | Postcards
* See past websites of the week
Don’t miss: Glazner will preview his book in a sold-out symposium on Friday, June 10, at The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale. The presentation will include the history of the iconic mystery girl and feature a special appearance by Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid.
RUM OF THE WEEK: Ron Diplomático Reserva
Produced at the same distillery at the foot of the Andes Mountains in Venezuela since 1959, the rums of Ron Diplomático have survived changes in ownership and popular tastes to become one of the world’s most recognized premium brands. The distillery is positioned to take advantage of region’s weather, pure water and sugar processing plants. The Diplomático brand was inspired by the man depicted on the label, a late 19th century Venezuelan (Don Juancho Nieto Melendez) renown for his passion for exotic liquors and rums. Note that in some countries, Diplomático is branded as Botucal for legal reasons, but you can still find Don Juancho on the label. Diplomático’s most popuar rums are the three in its “Tradition Range,” which combines Hispanic, American and British distillation methods. These include a white (Blanco Reserva) and two blended aged rums (Reserva and Reserva Exclusiva). There’s also a “Prestige Range” of two high-end sipping rums. The versatile and balanced Reserva, a blend of rums aged for up to eight years, is great for both mixing and sipping. That balance comes from the combination of both complex pot-still rums and light column-still rums. I found it to be rich and complex, with toffee and vanilla flavors mingling with a sharp oakiness on the back end. A fine example of a blended aged rum with many uses in cocktails.
* RonDiplomático.com | Facebook
* See all past rums of the week
Don’t miss: Ron Diplomático is one of the rum sponsors at The Hukilau, the annual Tiki weekender in Fort Lauderdale on June 10-14. The rums will be featured in a Pouring Sponsor booth Thursday through Saturday, plus cocktails at several special events at Pier 66: The Tiki Tower Takeover (Thursday), and Tiki Road Trip Pool Party (Friday). It will be featured in a cocktail at the “2001: A Tiki Odyssey” symposium on Saturday. The Mai-Kai will also feature Diplomático Reserva in the Mai Tai for the duration of The Hukilau.
* Ticket info | Atomic Grog coverage
COCKTAIL OF THE WEEK: La Guildive
(By Martin Cate of Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco)
* 1 ounce ginger beer
* 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
* 1/2 ounce Licor 43 **
* 1/4 ounce natural peach liqueur **
* 2 ounces blended aged rum
* Pinch of freshly grated cinnamon
Add the ginger beer to a chilled coupe. Combine the remaining ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with cracked or cubed ice. Double-strain the shaken ingredients into the coupe. Garnish with a lime twist.
Source: Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum and the Cult of Tiki
A sophisticated small sipper that harkens back to the golden age of cocktails, courtesy of rum and tropical drink maestro Martin Cate and featured in his outstanding new book based on his experiences as a key member of the modern Tiki revival. La Guildive is a little spicy, a little sweet, a little tart, and packs a lot of flavor into a small package. Cate recommends a number of blended aged rums, including Ron Diplomático Reserva, which works well here.
The cocktail starts sweet, the liqueurs meshing nicely with the ginger and lime flavors. But it finishes quickly with a tantalizing bite from the rum that lingers in the throat. The cinnamon is also crucial, adding sophistication and aromatics that enhance the experience and hit your nose just as you sip.
** Ingredient notes: Licor 43 is a Spanish vanilla liqueur made from a secret recipe of Mediterranean citrus fruits and select herbs and spices. It’s well worth adding to your arsenal, along with a natural peach liqueur from France. Cate recommends Mathilde Peach or Combier Crème de Pêche De Vigne. I found that Montbisou Pêche also works well. Both liqueurs raise the level your cocktails and add rich nuances.
* More Martin Cate recipes: Pampanito | Henry & John | Mai Tai | 2070 Swizzle
* See all past cocktails of the week
Smuggler’s Cove book sets a new standard for Tiki in the 21st century
Comprehensive, colorful, and full of so much information it may make your head spin (especially when sampling the many potent cocktail recipes), Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum and the Cult of Tiki is essential reading for anyone with a passionate interest in the Tiki revival and its spectacular cocktails. The book’s official release date is June 7. You can order via Amazon and other retailers through the official Smuggler’s Cove website and Facebook page.
Written by Martin Cate, with assistance from wife Rebecca Cate, Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum and the Cult of Tiki is the story of how this Tiki power couple rose to prominence and ended up opening one of the world most acclaimed rum bars in San Francisco. But it’s so much more than just the story of a bar. At 352 pages and hard-bound like a college textbook, it could be considered the new bible for home enthusiasts and bartenders alike. But I’ll bet you’ve never read a textbook this fun.
We’ll have a full review after we’ve digested all the Cates have to offer. It’s clear they poured everything they know into this opus, with nothing held back. Actually, one thing is held back: The recipe for the mysterious Smuggler’s Rum Barrel is obscured by a banner proclaiming it “secret.” But Cate divulges every conceivable nuance of his cocktail repertoire, 105 recipes (both original and historic), plus a groundbreaking new approach to understanding rum. The book classifies rums by distilling process, not an ambiguous style or country of origin.
Recipes are revealed for not just cocktails, but many special syrups and mixes. Mixologists will find clearly defined guides to technique, including a distinctive approach to blending with different styles of ice. But it’s the rum classifications that will turn some heads and possibly shake up the rum community. Instead of useless categories such as “gold” and “light” or even country of origin, Cate breaks down cane spirits into two major groups: “Molasses and evaporated cane rums,” plus “fresh cane juice rums.” Under each are subcategories with specific examples.
For example, you’ll find Bacardi 8 from Puerto Rico and Zacapa 23 from Guatemala both under “column still aged,” while Appleton 12 from Jamaica and Doorly’s 5 from Barbados are both considered “blended aged.” There are a total of 21 categories, from “pot still unaged” to Martinique rhums and cachaca. It’s a lot to wrap your mind around, but Cate adds a numerical system that allows you to match rums to recipes and keep your bar highly organized.
But the beauty of Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum and the Cult of Tiki is how it works so well as an encyclopedia of Tiki, beyond the minutia of rum and cocktails. The book also serves as an excellent primer for newbies who may want to dip their toes into Tiki cocktails or the scene in general, but may be intimidated or unsure of where to start. You don’t have to learn everything in one sitting. This is a book you can keep next to you for the rest of the year and learn something new every day.
There’s lots of “how-to” instruction, which makes sense considering Cate’s hands-on background and experience opening several acclaimed Tiki bars. It’s crammed with information, but well-designed so it doesn’t seem too busy. Yet it’s still a fun read, full of personal anecdotes, photos and vintage artwork. Not at all like the textbook it may appear to be. On some level, I’m sure Cate also aimed his book at the burgeoning new generation of craft cocktail enthusiasts who are dipping their toes into Tiki in ever-increasing numbers. If you’re looking to learn from the master, there’s no better place to start than here.
Don’t miss: Martin and Rebecca Cate will be celebrating the release of Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum and the Cult of Tiki and signing copies at The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale on June 8-12. Signings are scheduled for Wednesday from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. during the pre-party at The Mai-Kai. There’s also a signing in the Tiki Treasures Bazaar at the Pier 66 hotel on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Both signings are open to the public. [Get more info] You can also catch up with the Cates at 8 p.m. Sunday for a special signing event at Sweet Liberty in Miami Beach (ticket info). Back at Pier 66 during The Hukilau, ticketholders can also enjoy Martin’s handiwork in Thursday’s sold-out Tiki Tower Takeover, where he’ll join some of the top names in today’s cocktail scene mixing up signature drinks during a special happy hour. He’ll also lend his expertise to Saturday’s “Raiders of the Lost Tiki Culture” symposium, a historic gathering of some of the top names in the modern revival.
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SAVE THE DATE: Upcoming events
***** In Florida *****
* June 8-12 – The Hukilau, Fort Lauderdale. [Atomic Grog coverage]
***** On the Eastern Seaboard *****
* June 23-26 – Ohana: Luau At The Lake at The Tiki Resort, Lake George, N.Y. [Atomic Grog coverage]
* July 20-24 – Tales of the Cocktail, New Orleans, La.
***** Across the U.S. *****
* 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, Torrence, Calif.
* Aug. 18-21 – Tiki Oasis, San Diego, Calif. [Atomic Grog coverage]
* Aug. 26-27 – California Rum Fest, San Francisco.
* Aug. 27 – Asbury Park Surf Music Festival, New Jersey
* Sept. 17 – Makahiki: A Night of Tiki, Indianapolis, Ind.
* Oct. 21-23 – Mod Palm Springs, Palm Springs, Calif. [Atomic Grog coverage]
***** Worldwide *****
* 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.
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