Updated March 8
NEW: After each month, look for a summary of all the top Tiki news, plus updates on bar openings and closings, the world of rum, plus more!
Jump below: Tiki news | Bar news | Rum news | Links | Events calendar
March events: Shag art shows, Tiki bars and festivals, surf rock and more
From the ashes of the Week in Tiki (and, later, the Month in Tiki) rises The Tiki Times. Still ambitious, but more practical, this monthly guide to what’s going on across the world of Tiki culture will hopefully be a definitive resource of where to find special events that touch on topics of interest to many Tikiphiles. You’ll find all the major Tiki festivals, plus smaller gatherings along with events that scratch our itch for rum and cocktails, surf and rockabilly music, mid-century modern design, even Disney. And don’t forget authentic Polynesian culture, the well from which Tiki springs.
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Pinterest | Coming soon: Twitter and Instagram
TIKI NEWS: Book and mug releases
Shag the Store announced the release of Shag’s newest signed book, Shag: The Collected Works. It’s available signed by Shag directly from the Palm Springs and Hollywood stores. It’s also coming soon to the online store. The 192-page hardcover book features the “Balcony on Sunset” print on the front cover and the “Three Coats” print on the back cover.
BAR NEWS: Farewell Tiki Mondays With Miller, Longitude, Kreepy Tiki and Trader Vic’s; Aloha The Reef and Tiki Underground
Lost Lake in Chicago continues to rake in the honors, the most recent being named a semifinalist for Outstanding Bar Program by the James Beard Foundation. “It’s really a thrill to see Lost Lake listed alongside the incredible bars that inspire us daily,” said a message on the acclaimed Tiki bar’s Facebook page. Among the many other nominees are Anvil Bar & Refuge in Houston, Arnaud’s French 75 Bar in New Orleans, Bar Agricole in San Francisco, Canon in Seattle, Clyde Common in Portland, The Dead Rabbit in New York City, and The Varnish in Los Angeles. The 2017 James Beard Awards Gala will be held in Chicago on May 1.
Lost Lake’s Paul McGee, Shelby Allison and Erin Hayes at the Tiki Tower Takeover at The Hukilau 2016 in Fort Lauderdale. (Photo by Go11Events.com)
* More photos, full coverage of the special cocktail event
Following his Tiki Mondays With Miller finale on Feb. 13 at Pouring Ribbons in New York City, Capt. Brian Miller posted the following missive on Facebook: “The crew and I left it all on the stage and we hope each and every one of you had a great time. We said we wouldn’t go quietly and we didn’t. There was so much rum and so much love. I was humbled by all of it. Thanks to all of you that came on Monday and everyone else that has come to Tiki Mondays over the past 5+ years. It was my pleasure and my honor to serve all of you.” Look for a new venture in New York City in the near future from Miller and company.
There was sad news out of Oakland, Calif, where owner Suzanne Long announced a March 5 closing of her beloved Longitude. Open since August 2014, this was the respected rum and cocktail expert’s first bar of her own, and it was well-received across the Tiki and rum communities. In her Facebook announcement, Long wrote: “Thank you to all of you who have walked through our doors in the last three years. It has been an amazing, glorious adventure and we couldn’t have done it without all of your love and support. Mahalo to you and Aloha, with so much love! And from me, don’t worry. You haven’t seen the last of me yet.” We’re holding you to that, Suzanne!
While many will say it was a shell of its former self, Trader Vic’s ended a 62-year association with the Beverly Hilton with the Feb. 2 closing of the poolside lounge that was the last remnant of the legendary Tiki restaurant at the venerable hotel, Los Angeles Magazine reported. “The original Beverly Hilton Trader Vic’s was a sprawling Polynesian pop masterpiece that opened with the Welton Becket-designed hotel in 1955 and was a celebrity hot spot for decades,” the article says. Added Eater Los Angeles: “Operating on land owned for decades by Merv Griffin and playing host to everyone from Hugh Hefner to the Rat Pack, Trader Vic’s in Beverly Hills had become a beloved staple for that side of town – but now it’s all been scrubbed away.” When the restaurant closed in 2007, the pool bar became the only place in Los Angeles to get an authentic Trader Vic’s Mai Tai and pu-pu platters. A more modern Trader Vic’s restaurant operated at L.A. Live from 2009 to 2014. Now the only U.S. locations are in Emeryville, Calif., and Atlanta. There are more than a dozen overseas locations.
An era ended in Fort Lauderdale, where the proprietors of Kreepy Tiki Lounge announced that the live music venue and craft cocktail bar would be closing its doors on April 1. “We invite you all to celebrate the times we had, friendships we’ve made, and enjoy the last remaining days with us,” said a Facebook announcement. The adjoining Kreepy Tiki Tattoos will remain open during construction in the weeks to come, so look for news on future upgrades to the space near Fort Lauderdale International Airport. South Florida Distillers, makers of the award-winning Fwaygo rums, is a recent new addition to the building. A longtime rockabilly and punk-rock hangout under various names, the bar received a major upgrade (and full liquor license) when Ayme Harrison took over bar operations in late 2014. It was subsequently named one of the best 22 Tiki bars in the country by Condé Nast Traveler, and Harrison’s mixology skills were recognized in 2016 at such high-profile events as The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival and The Hukilau. Harrison is one of several high-profile partners in a new craft cocktail bar in nearby Delray Beach called Death or Glory, set to open April 1, according to Miami New Times. The article also says that the old Kreepy Tiki Lounge “may continue to operate in another capacity” under Kreepy Tiki Tattoos owner Jackson Valiente.
It was not all about closings this month. Some exciting news in Palm Springs heralded the opening of The Reef at the Caliente Tropics resort. Home of the annual Tiki Caliente and Mod Palm Springs events, the vintage resort with the iconic A-frame entrance and distinctive mid-century Polynesian Pop architecture had once been home to a bar called The Reef. When Rory Snyder, creator of the aforementioned Tiki weekenders, saw an opportunity to take over the bar space, he jumped at it. He enlisted the talents of artists Buzzy Meeker (design, build-out), Doug Horne (logos, menus and mug design) and John Mulder of Eekum Bookum (mug creation). “I want the mood and menu of The Reef make all who walk in here feel at home,” Snyder said in an announcement on Facebook. “Everyone from the long-time Palm Springs residents, to vacationing tourists, to our enthusiastic Tiki ohana. Because The Reef is located at a hotel, some people might wander in from the pool in their flip-flops and some might arrive dressed up for a night out. Regardless, I want people to come in knowing that, just because this is a tropically-themed bar, they can get still their favorite standard well drinks or enjoy one of our craft Tiki cocktails, along with some good food while having a memorable time. You will be entertained.” Previews were held in February, with a grand opening scheduled for March 4.
It’s clear that the best Tiki bars are a passion project of their owners, and the new Tiki Underground in the Akron, Ohio, area is no exception. Cleveland native Sean Coffey was a Tiki fanatic for 20 years before realizing his dream and opening a tropical paradise for all to enjoy. “Sean has loved Tiki culture for so many years and he’s basically had a Tiki bar, at home,” his wife and co-owner Jessie Coffey said in an article on Cleveland.com. “Now we get to have the public come over.” Funded in part by fans and supporters, the bar is a DIY effort in the truest sense of the word. Coffey took over a 4,500-square-foot space that was formerly home to a sports bar in Hudson, Ohio, bringing South Seas style and the spirit of aloha to an enthusiastic opening day crowd on Feb. 24. A grand opening and the roll-out of more entertainment and menu options were planned for March.
In Fort Lauderdale, news broke about a new restaurant opening in the beachside B Ocean Resort, perhaps best known for the classic “porthole lounge” The Wreck Bar and long-running swim shows by Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid. Naked Crab Seafood Kitchen is the brainchild of celebrity chef and restauranteur Ralph Pagano, who has had success with his Naked Taco and Naked Lunch concepts in Miami. Less successful was the short-lived Naked Tiki on South Beach, but hopefully Pagano’s appreciation of Tiki shines through in his new 150-seat restaurant, which also includes The Florida Bar. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Naked Crab is a “stripped-down but also dressed-up crab and seafood and steak house where I cook impeccably sourced fish,” Pagano told New Times. In related Wreck Bar news, Marina and her pod of aquaticats launched a new, burlesque-themed swim show for ages 21 and older on Friday and Saturday nights at 9:30 p.m. These are in addition to the regular family-friendly “fishtail glam” mermaid shows at 6:30.
The kitschy dive bar Hula Hula, which has been operating since 2007 and proudly advertising “karaoke 365 days a year,” announced that it has been forced to move from its Seattle Center location. According to a post on the bar’s Facebook page, Hula Hula will shut down March 18 but reopen in a new location in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in April.
RUM NEWS: Bacardi crowns North American Cocktail Competition champion
Darnell Holguin after his presentation at the 1306 Bar on South Beach. (Photos by The Atomic Grog)
Darnell Holguin of New York City won the Bacardi Legacy North American Cocktail Competition Finals in Miami Beach on Feb. 13 with his It Was All a Dream cocktail. Other U.S. finalists included Cody Henson of Miami, Will Isaza of Boston, Alex Chien of Chicago, Cameron George of Seattle, and Vincent Toscano of San Francisco. Holguin will represent the United States at the Global Final in Berlin in May. Around 250 people attended the private industry-only event at the 1306 Bar. Our correspondent tasted almost all of the 19 drinks and reported to us (without knowing the winner) that he thought Holguin’s was far and away the best. He called it “a very Tiki-tastic concoction that utilized condensed milk and allspice dram. … The minute I sipped it, I knew it was the winning drink.”
* See video of the competition
* At Fort Lauderdale’s Mai-Kai, it’s always Tiki time (The New York Times)
* Connoisseurs tap Cuban history for original daiquiri (USA Today)
* A Voodoo Grog story (Critiki News)
* Black rum: Setting the record straight (Cocktail Wonk)
* How Tiki Month began (Pegu Blog)
* The Golden Age of Tiki…Now? (Tiki with Ray)
* At Jungle Bird, everything old is new again (Sacramento Magazine)
* Portland has the world’s second vegan Tiki bar (Willamette Week)
* The mesmerising mysteries and traditions of Easter Island (Daily Mail)
TIKI EVENTS: Modernism Week, plus rum, surf and Polynesian culture
Feb. 4-March 4 – Dark & Stormy: A Tiki Nightmare show at Night Gallery Fine Art in Santa Ana, Calif. Opening party Feb. 4 with featured artist Big Toe plus live music by the The Jimmy Psycho Experiment.
Feb. 4 – Tropical Rum Fest in West Palm Beach. The fifth annual taste of the tropics at the downtown Meyer Amphitheater featuring international rum exhibitors and authentic island cuisine.
Feb. 4 – Unsteady Freddie’s Surf-Rock Shindig at Otto’s Shrunken Head in New York City. Featuring The Obsidians, Howlin’ Thurstons, Strange But Surf, and Infra-Men.
Feb. 9 – Tiki Bingo at The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale hosted by the Gumbo Limbo Chapter of the Fraternal Order Of Moai. A fund-raising event featuring an extended happy hour.
Feb. 11 – Aloha Fest in Venlo, The Netherlands. An evening of European surf music and culture including Surfer Joe, The Terrorsaurs, Kilaueas, Aloha Sluts and more. Plus DJs, unplugged shows, market with Tiki art and music for sale.
Feb. 11 – Southern Surf Stomp at Kavarna in Decatur, Ga. All-ages concert featuring Liz Brasher, and The Fugitives.
Feb. 11 – Second Saturday Surf fourth anniversary party at Nomad Bar in Austin, Texas. Featuring Sonny & The Starfires, Los SuperAvengers, and The Zilkers.
Feb. 13 – Tiki Mondays With Miller in New York City. The final voyage of Brian Miller and his scurvy crew, with special guests Gaz Regan and the Hula Belly Sisters. At Pouring Ribbons in the East Village.
Feb. 16 – Mahiki Invasion at UnderTow in Phoenix featuring an hour of Tiki education with Georgi Radev of Mahiki in London. Includes cocktails, a Tiki mug, sponsor Reàl Cocktail Ingredients giveaways, and a recipe guide created by Radev.
Feb. 16-26 – Modernism Week in Palm Springs, Calif. The 12th annual celebration of mid-century architecture and design featuring hundreds of events including the Modernism Show & Sale, neighborhood tours, films, lectures, double-decker bus tours, parties, walking tours, vintage fashion, live music, and more.
Modernism Week highlights
* Feb. 18: Charles Phoenix: Fins, Flair & Futurism – Live Comedy Slide Show Performance. The ambassador of Americana celebrates space age automotive styling with a look at kitschy and classic mid-century car culture.
* Feb. 18: Tiki-A-Go-Go with The Hula Girls. The third annual party at the Royal Hawaiian Estates includes themed food and drinks, DJ Baz and live music from the L.A.-based band. A souvenir map created by Estates resident Shag will guide you though the grounds and participating units of the historic property, designed by Donald Wexler and Richard Harrison.
* Feb. 18: Shag’s Print Release Party featuring a new hand-pulled serigraph print at Shag the Store. Featuring live music by the Martini Kings and complimentary cocktails.
* Feb. 19: Night at the Frank Sinatra Estate. A rare chance to peek inside Sinatra’s stunning 1947 residence, designed by architect E. Stewart Williams. This soiree will celebrate Sinatra with a suitably stylish and well-appointed classic mid-century cocktail experience.
* Feb. 20: Disney’s Mid-century Modern at Smoke Tree Ranch. Hosted by theme park designer Bill Butler, this look at mid-century modern influences on Disney also features historian Alan Hess and author/historian Bill Cotter. Held at Walt Disney Hall in the private enclave, which was personally funded by Walt Disney.
* Feb. 24: Kai Wai Tiki Rum Party. A celebration of Polynesian culture featuring an exhibition of carvings by artist Tualau Tauheluhelu, tapa designs from across the Pacific, and a photo exhibition of Polynesian-influenced mid-century architecture. Featuring cocktails, appetizers, hula dancing and guest of honor Sven Kirsten (The Book of Tiki, Tiki Pop). Proceeds will benefit Kai Wai, a division SEAthletes dedicated to engaging the youth and preserving the wonder of the sea.
* Feb. 25: History of Rum 101: An Educational and Tasting Experience. Presented by the national ambassadors for Sailor Jerry and Flor de Cana, this interactive program includes cocktails and a guided tasting.
* Feb. 25: Shag’s Modern Exuberance: Artist Presentation and Book Signing. The acclaimed artist discusses the transition of minimalism to maximalism and its influence on his work.
* Feb. 25: Pinball Fever at The Museum of Pinball, home of more than 700 restored vintage arcade and pinball machines. Food plus Sailor Jerry rum cocktails and an appearance by Shag.
* Feb. 25: Shag’s Early Evening Architectural Themed Print Party. A gallery opening with complimentary cocktails at Shag the Store featuring live music by the Martini Kings.
Official sites: ModernismWeek.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Press coverage: Modernism Week attendance sails past 90,000, organizers say
Charles Phoenix entertains during Modernism Week
House parties, beautiful people and Tiki madness
* Past Atomic Grog coverage, photos
Feb. 18 – The Art of the Tiki at Arizona Cocktail Week. Join Martin Cate (Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco) and Georgi Radev (Mahiki, London) at Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale for a discussion of the past and present of Polynesian Pop. Includes mugs, carvings, music, cocktails, plus shopping in a Tiki art bazaar.
Feb. 18 – Rockabilly Prom: Rockin’ Luau Edition in Jacksonville, Fla. The third annual fundraiser to benefit oral cancer awareness will include dinner, live music, a special fire performance, plus more at the Ramona Pavilion Ballroom.
Feb. 20-24 – Rum University 5-Day Rum Course in Louisville, Ky. Classes at Moonshine University in the Distilled Spirits Epicenter on rum-making and blending, business, classifications, history and science, plus more.
Representing sponsor Rhum Barbancourt at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami Beach, Brian Miller is joined by Tiki Mondays With Miller cohort Jelani Jah Edwards-Jöhnson (left). Miller mixed and presented his ever-popular Greedo in Paradise cocktail on Feb. 24. Look for a new bar project from Miller in New York City coming soon. (Photos by The Atomic Grog)
* Recipe: Greedo in Paradise
Feb. 24 – The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami Beach. A cocktail competition hosted by Food Network’s Robert Irvine and featuring top mixologists from bars across the country, plus acclaimed chefs serving tropical-themed food at the Surfcomber hotel.
* Past Atomic Grog coverage, photos
Judge’s Choice winner:
Chef Robert Irvine presents the awards:
Feb. 24 – Smuggler’s Cove book signing at the Tonga Hut in Palm Springs. Martin and Rebecca Cate sign copies of Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum and the Cult of Tiki. Also: Live music by Tiki Tronic.
Feb. 24-26 – Festival RumBahamas in Nassau. Historic Fort Charlotte is the setting for a salute to exotic rums, island comfort foods and Caribbean rhythms. Featuring rum tastings, live entertainment, food booths and culinary demonstrations, educational talks, and more.
Feb. 25 – Pagan Idol 1 Year Anniversary Party in San Francisco. The Tiki bar celebrates with DJs Otto Von Stroheim and Tanoa “Samoa Boy,” GoGo Hula Hoop with Szandora LaVey, burlesque performers, mug release, drink specials and more. Otto von Stroheim with Daniel Parks. Von Stroheim, founder of Tiki Oasis, wrote on Facebook: “We are so happy there have been dozens of new Tiki bars opened across the globe in the past three years. Out of this new crop, Pagan Idol stands head and shoulders above the the crowd. They have done everything right, from their concept to their drinks, to their drink menu, to their decor, to their music. … If you have not been to Pagan Idol you are missing out on a great new Tiki bar that captures the authentic feel of the classic Tiki bar of your dreams.”
Feb. 25 – Tiki Mixology Seminar at Trader Vic’s in Atlanta. Pat Weikle guides you through making your favorite Tiki cocktails at the classic Atlanta Hilton venue.
Feb. 25-26 – Polynesian Cultural Festival in Oakland Park, Fla. The 13th annual celebration of South Seas culture at Jaco Pastorius Park featuring fire and knife dancers, hula dancers, authentic food, arts and crafts, ukulele exhibition, and more.
Feb. 26 – Smuggler’s Cove book signing at False Idol in San Diego. Martin and Rebecca Cate sign copies of Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum and the Cult of Tiki. Also: Cocktails featuring Plantation Rum.
Feb. 28 – The Coconut Club at Clifton’s Pacific Seas in Los Angeles. An all-inclusive experience of dinner, cocktails and fun, guided by Tiki Master Darren. This underground supper club pops up at bars and restaurants throughout Southern California to bring back the luxurious escapism that’s missing from the modern world.
ONGOING MONTHLY EVENTS
First Thursday – Otto’s Grotto at Forbidden Island in Alameda, Calif. Tiki Oasis mastermind and DJ Otto von Stroheim spins his favorite exotic tunes.
Third Wednesday – Primativa in Hi-Fi at Otto’s Shrunken Head in New York City. DJs Jack Fetterman and Gina of the Jungle spin the best exotica, lounge and cocktail music.
March events: See the updated calendar
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