Updated April 15
As The Hukilau fast approaches its 18th annual Tiki weekender in Fort Lauderdale in June, hotel rooms at the host Pier Sixty-Six have sold out, and the more popular symposiums and classes are filling up. But new events are still being added, including a cocktail class on the rums of The Mai-Kai hosted by The Atomic Grog.
* More below: Passes available | Special event tickets | Pop-up Tiki bars | New, upcoming
Meanwhile, news just broke that Pier Sixty-Six will be closing for a massive two-year renovation immediately after The Hukilau 2019. This news is not unexpected, and plans for a new 2020 site have been in the works. “There should be no uncertainty that we will have a great venue for 2020,” said The Hukilau’s owner/organizer, Richard Oneslager. “I do think it’s the end of an era at Pier Sixty-Six, and it is special that we get to cap it off.”
See more below: Is this the last fling at Pier Sixty-Six?
The Hukilau: Wednesday through Sunday, June 5-9, 2019, at the Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina, B Ocean Resort and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Featuring Tikiyaki Orchestra, Tikiyaki 5-0, Surfer Joe, The Volcanics, The Hula Girls, The Intoxicators, Gold Dust Lounge, Skinny Jimmy Stingray, The Swingin’ Palms, Slowey and the Boats, King Kukulele, Brother Cleve, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, Ian “Rum Ambassador” Burrell, and 26 top Tiki bars and bartenders from around the world.
* TheHukilau.com | Facebook: Page and Group
ORDER NOW: Get your multi-day passes and individual event tickets
SCHEDULE: Check to see what’s happening on all five days
Pier Sixty-Six, a landmark property developed in 1956 on the Intracoastal Waterway and home of The Hukilau since 2015, has sold out of rooms for the event. But The Hukilau organizers have lined up a great back-up option less than a mile away, directly on Fort Lauderdale Beach. The recently renovated B Ocean Resort, formerly known as the iconic Yankee Clipper, has plenty of rooms at a special rate for villagers attending the festive Polynesian Pop party.
Staying at “The B” also gives attendees easy access to The Wreck Bar and its porthole views of Medusirena, aka Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid and her retro revival swimshows featuring her “pod of aquaticats.” The Hukilau will provide a free shuttle between the hotels, running from breakfast until 2 a.m.
BOOK A ROOM: Click here for the link to get the special rate
Marina’s special shows for The Hukilau are always among the more popular events, and capacity is limited in The Wreck bar to allow all paid attendees prime viewing. So it’s advised that you act now if you don’t want to get left out. There are three performances on the schedule, but Wednesday night’s late-night burlesque show is already sold out. Tickets remain for the 2 p.m. matinees on Thursday and Friday ($20 plus service charge).
Other sold-out tickets as of April 15:
* Tiki Tower Takeover (5 p.m. Thursday) – This signature event in the rotating rooftop lounge at Pier Sixty-Six has now sold out all five years of its existence. This year’s Women Who Tiki theme offers a rare opportunity to sample cocktails from eight top female bartenders from around the country: Sierra Kirk (Hale Pele in Portland), Jeanie Grant (Pagan Idol in San Francisco), Libby Longlott (UnderTow in Phoenix), Sarah Clarke (Hidden Harbor in Pittsburgh), Shannon Mustipher (Glady’s in Brooklyn), Phoebe Esmon (Curate in Ashville, N.C.), Ayme Harrison (Death Or Glory in Delray Beach), and Marie King (Tonga Hut in Los Angeles).
* Past photos: 2017 | 2016| 2015
* Professor? Ambassador? Both! (12:30 p.m. Friday) – A one-of-a-kind symposium featuring global rum ambassador Ian Burrell and “Professor” Steve Remsberg, owner of the world’s largest private rum collection.
* Attack of the Zombie Women (4 p.m. Friday) – The Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy offers hands-on sessions for small groups of home bartending enthusiasts (and professionals as well). One of the most anticipated of the third year of classes is this unique session featuring two women at the forefront of today’s Tiki cocktail scene discussing the secrets of the deadly Zombie: Brooklyn-based cocktail consultant and spirits educator Shannon Mustipher (author of Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails), and Jeanie Grant, bar manager and award-winning mixologist from Pagan Idol in San Francisco.
* The $1,000 Rum Tasting with Ian Burrell (1 p.m. Saturday) – The return of one of last year’s most popular symposiums, a guided tour (and tasting) of some of the world’s most coveted sips from the rum world. Note: In addition to the Saturday session, it’s likely that an additional session will be added on Sunday.
In addition, we’re told that these tickets are very close to selling out. Order now if you don’t want to miss out:
* Blending Rums With Ian Burrell ($49 plus fee, 11 a.m. Friday) – Just a few spots remain in one of the most popular of the Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy classes. The global rum ambassador and founder of The UK RumFest will show students the ins and outs of which rums to use in tandem when mixing tropical drinks. Why use just one rum when you can use two or three?
* Tiki Garnish with Kevin Beary and Three Dots and a Dash ($49 plus fee, noon Saturday) – In another popular returning class, the beverage director and staff of the acclaimed Chicago Tiki bar and its new secluded Bamboo Room guide students on taking their cocktails to the next level.
Two new cocktail classes feature Mai-Kai rums and Tiki mayhem
The latest events added to The Hukilau schedule are two new Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy classes: Tiki Mayhem with Daniele Dalla Pola, Georgi Radev and Ian Burrell; plus The Rums of The Mai-Kai with yours truly. These are late additions, but we’re expecting a great turnout so don’t hesitate to reserve your spot now. Here are the details:
* Tiki Mayhem ($49 plus fee, 2 p.m. Friday) – Daniele Dalla Pola (of Nu Lounge Bar in Italy and Esotico in Miami), Georgi Radev (of Laki Kane in London), and Ian Burrell (who recently brought us Miami Rum Congress) are three big, bold personalities. Put them all in a room with no script and anything can happen. According to the official description: “This class is what Tiki is all about – good times and good friends. You will learn a lot, we just don’t know what it will be.”
* The Rums of The Mai-Kai: The Classic Tiki Template ($49 plus fee, 2 p.m. Saturday) – Don the Beachcomber’s groundbreaking use of multiple rums in a single cocktail is crucial to the style that came to be known as Tiki. Nearly 90 years later, that exact same blending of spirits is still practiced today at The Mai-Kai. Hurricane Hayward of The Atomic Grog blog will guide hands-on lessons on how these flavors from different Caribbean islands are used in concert to create some of the world’s most famous rum rhapsodies. Put these practices to use to make your home bar sing. Important note: All class members are invited to The Mai-Kai on Sunday beginning at noon for special events to be announced soon.
More on The Atomic Grog
* Demerara rum flows at The Mai-Kai’s magical retro event
* Rums of The Mai-Kai include potent, funky flavors from Guyana and Jamaica
Classes run for 90 minutes and are intimate, interactive experiences in learning to make classic Tiki cocktails, taught by top bartenders and spirits experts from across the world. Participating students pick up lots of giveaways and can choose from one of five bar tools designed by California artist Tiki Diablo exclusively for The Hukilau.
In addition to all of the classes mentioned above, tickets are still available ($49 plus fee) for the following:
* Tiki on the Thames with Georgi Radev (noon Friday), featuring a UK Tiki perspective and lessons on the cocktail scene in London.
* Mai Tai Two Ways (3 p.m. Friday) hosted by bar team members from Hidden Harbor in Pittsburgh and The S.O.S. Tiki Bar in Decatur, Ga.
* Stocking Your Home Tiki Bar (11 a.m. Saturday) with Matt Pietrek, aka Cocktail Wonk.
* The Holy Trinity: Rum, Lime, Sugar (1 p.m. Saturday) with Scotty Schuder of Dirty Dick in Paris. A repeat of the popular core class from years past.
One- and multi-day passes available now, two-day pass coming soon
To attend The Hukilau and take part in all the festivities outlined here, you should also snag a day pass. These not only give you passholder pricing on all special event tickets, but also access to all the non-ticketed events at Pier Sixty-Six and The Mai-Kai. This includes everything from pool parties to live musical performances to pop-up Tiki bars to the Tiki Treasures Bazaar. If you’re a newbie or just need a refresher, the “How to Hukilau” page on the website takes you through every step of the process in making sure you don’t forget something, like dinner reservations for Saturday night at The Mai-Kai, which always sell out.
Before you reject the price tags, remember that passes include plenty of complimentary cocktails and rum tastings throughout the long weekend. In addition to the multi-day passes, a one-night pass for Thursday (June 6) just went on sale April 1. Here are the pass options:
* South Seas Pass ($399 plus fee) – The ultimate pass for those seeking a premium experience. You get access for all five days, including Wednesday’s pre-party party at The Mai-Kai, plus all Pier Sixty-Six activities including the Thursday kickoff party, Tiki Treasures Bazaar, the pool parties, the Friday night High Tide Party, plus more. It also comes with exclusive early access to the Tiki Tower Takeover on Thursday and a custom mug from Tiki Farm.
* Big Kahuna Pass ($205 plus fee) – Also good for five days, this pass includes all of the South Seas benefits except the Tiki Tower Takeover and custom mug.
* Aloha Pass ($195 plus fee) – Includes all of the benefits of the Big Kahuna with the exception of Wednesday’s Mai-Kai party.
* Luau Pass ($175 plus fee) – The three-day pass includes admission to all the Friday, Saturday and Sunday activities.
NEW: Thursday night ticket ($39 plus fee) – Just added is a one-night pass that includes the Tiki Treasures Bazaar and the kick-off party featuring three bands, complimentary cocktails and rum tastings.
Coming soon: Surf’s Up Friday & Saturday Pass ($129 plus fee) – Going on sale May 1, this additional option gives you full access to the Tiki Treasures Bazaar, complimentary cocktails at both pool parties, admission and cocktails at Friday’s High Tide Party (featuring The Intoxicators, Surfer Joe, Tikiyaki Orchestra, and more).
TICKETS: What’s still available
Special parties and tastings
In addition to the Tiki Tower Takeover and Medusirena swimshows outlined above, you can still pick up tickets to the following special events:
* Tiki A Go-Go in The Tower ($25 plus fee, 10 p.m. Thursday) featuring DJ Brother Cleve and burlesque queen Angie Pontani, plus complimentary cocktails in the 17th floor Pier Top Lounge.
* High Tide Party Cocktail Pass ($25 plus fee, 7 p.m. Friday) is your ticket to free drinks from 16 of the top Tiki bartenders from around the world while you enjoy live music during the weekend’s biggest gathering at Pier Sixty-Six. Event admission is included in all Friday passes.
* Home Tiki Bars – It’s Not a Competition (OK, maybe it is) ($15 plus fee, 1:30 p.m. Friday) is a photo tour hosted by Ron Ferrell, proprietor of Southern California’s Rincon Room, featuring practical tips and expert advice.
* The Art of Trader Vic’s ($15 plus fee, 10:30 a.m. Saturday) features Eve Bergeron, the vice president of marketing and granddaughter of Trader Vic himself, sharing illustrations, books, menus and other items from the iconic restaurant chain.
* Surf Music: More Than Meets the Ear ($15 plus fee, 11 a.m. Saturday) brings together musicians Jon Paul Balak and Lorenzo “Surfer Joe” Valdambrini to discuss (and demonstrate) the history and progression of the genre, explaining what makes the sound so distinctive.
* How the British Navy Influenced the Birth of Tiki ($15 plus fee, 1:30 p.m. Saturday) is the story of the historical connections of Her Majesty’s Navy and how it shaped the cocktails we still celebrate today. Presented by Matt (Cocktail Wonk) Pietrek.
* Women of The Mai-Kai ($15 plus fee, 12:30 p.m. Saturday) is a loving look at the lives of great women who worked at The Mai-Kai, from Pualani Mossman Avon to Mireille Thornton, who went on to become owner of the historic landmark. Tim “Swanky” Glazner, author of Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant, will present their remarkable story in their own words with new images.
* Make Your Own Fish Float Pendant ($20 plus fee, 10 a.m. Friday) features step-by-step lessons from South Florida artist Tom Fowner in making a nifty, one-of-a-kind souvenir and addition to your Tiki wardrobe.
* Paint Your Own Black Velvet Masterpiece ($20 plus fee, 10 a.m. Saturday) with Southern California’s Tiki Tony, longtime Hukilau participant and master of many mediums.
* Pool Party-Proof Makeup ($20 plus fee, noon Saturday) is a crash course in the secrets the professional makeup artists use, presented by South Florida’s Nicole Brauchler.
* Carve Your Own Tiki Pendant ($20 plus fee, 2 p.m. Saturday) with a carving legend, Fort Lauderdale’s Will Anders. Learn from the man who created several of the giant Tikis at The Mai-Kai.
Updated list of participating pop-up Tiki bars
The Hukilau will offer the chance to sample cocktails from an unprecedented 26 guest bars serving complimentary cocktails:
4 Kahunas (Dallas)
Archipelago (Washington, D.C.)
Death or Glory (Delray Beach, Fla.)
Dirty Dick (Paris)
Flask & Cannon (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Foundation Bar (Milwaukee)
Gladys (New York City)
Hale Pele (Portland)
Hidden Harbor (Pittsburgh)
Inferno Room (Indianapolis)
Laki Kane (London)
Manolito (New Orleans)
Nu Lounge Bar (Bologna, Italy)
Odd Birds (St. Augustine, Fla.)
Pagan Idol (San Francisco)
Porco Lounge & Tiki Room (Cleveland)
The S.O.S. Tiki Bar (Decatur, Ga.) Suffering Bastard (Sanford, Fla.)
Three Dots and a Dash (Chicago)
Tiki TNT (Washington, D.C.)
Tiki Underground (Akron, Ohio)
Tonga Hut (Los Angeles)
Trailer Happiness (London)
Zombie Village (San Francisco)
Enhancements and new features
The Hukilau is also touting several enhanced experiences, including:
* Room parties at Pier Sixty-Six in designated ground-floor areas. For the first time since 2010, The Hukilau will officially sanction and assist villagers in hosting their own specially themed shindigs on Thursday night.
* Another pool party: A Sunday get-together is being added, especially for South Florida locals, in addition to the Rum Island Pool Parties on Friday and Saturday.
* More live music, including a poolside stage during the afternoon parties.
* More vendors in the Tiki Treasures Bazaar, up by a dozen from years past. The current lineup includes Kymm Bang, Bamboo Ben, Big Toe, Eekum Bookum, Grider Adventure Art, Orgeat Works, Tee-ki Togs, Tiki Diablo, Tiki Farm, Tiki Tony, Tom Fowner, Will Anders and many more. [See the full list]
* More food trucks at Pier Sixty-Six to supplement the hotel’s restaurants and dining options.
* More green initiatives to help cut waste and serve as an example for the Tiki and bar industries.
More announcements still to come
* Details on Sunday’s grand finale at The Mai-Kai will soon be announced, along with the addition of Sunday-only tickets.
* Look for more info on “Women Who Tiki,” a free afternoon event to be announced. We’re told it will be a panel of Tiki Tower Takeover bartenders moderated by Anne-Louise Marquis (brand ambassador for Campari America).
* Also in the works: Three free rum and cocktail lectures featuring top industry leaders and Hukilau spirits sponsors. We also will share the full list of sponsors as soon as it’s available.
Previous Hukilau 2019 coverage
* 100 Days to The Hukilau: Weekend events at The Mai-Kai feature The Surfrajettes
* Tickets on sale, book your room now for June 5-9 bash in Fort Lauderdale
* Hotel room parties are back, plus preview events, more
* First official announcement promises enhancements, same vintage experience
Last fling for The Hukilau at Pier Sixty-Six?
If everything above doesn’t include enough reasons to attend The Hukilau 2019, here’s another: This might be the event’s last year at the historic Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina, at least in the near future. The property will be undergoing a massive, multi-year refurbishment that could begin before the end of 2019. The two-year timeframe on construction will force The Hukilau to move elsewhere in 2020, organizer Richard Oneslager said.
The redevelopment plans have been in the works for some time. But an official hotel closing date of June 10, immediately after The Hukilau, became public on Friday, April 5, when 213 employees were notified that their jobs will be eliminated on or near that date. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel quoted a spokesman for the owner of the Pier Sixty-Six property, Tavistock Development Co., as saying the hotel is expected to reopen in two years. Construction could begin before the end of 2019, a Tavistock senior director said.
Oneslager said that he “knew this day was coming” and began looking last year for a new home for The Hukilau 2020. “The Hukilau has forged a special bond with the historic Pier Sixty-Six property, and most important, with the staff,” he said, adding that management and ownership kept him informed throughout their planning process. “While we will miss the ‘Old 66,’ the vision and investment for the ‘New 66’ is remarkable.”
The 22-acre site has changed ownership and hotel management many times over the years, but (aside from regular modernizations) has kept its same classic look and feel. It was built by Phillips Petroleum (of Phillips 66 fame) in 1956, hence the Pier 66 moniker. Philips sold the property in 1985, and succeeding owners have included billionaire H. Wayne Huizenga (Blockbuster Video, Miami Dolphins). The most recent upgrade was a $20 million renovation in 2015 that included major enhancements at the hotel’s famous marina.
* More Pier 66 history, photos: 2018 | 2015
But the new owners, who bought the hotel in late 2016 for $165 million, have something much bigger in mind. Tavistock has ambitious plans to add condos, villas and single-family homes to the property. It also plans to upgrade the hotel to be more competitive and attract more meetings and other special events, according to press reports.
This includes the preservation of the historic space-age tower, which was built in 1965 and still looms large over the surrounding area. In succeeding decades, more restrictive height limits have kept towering hotels from proliferating on Fort Lauderdale Beach, making Pier Sixty-Six even more distinctive. “It’s nice to know that the iconic tower, home of the Tiki Tower Takeover, will still be the signature landmark of the property,” Oneslager said.
Current plans, approved by the Fort Lauderdale City Commission in January, call for the renovation of the existing property and an expansion on the south side of the 17th Street Causeway that will include a new waterfront entertainment venue.
Since Tavistock bought the property, few changes have been made to the hotel other than a rebranding (as Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina) while its future was decided by voters and government officials. Now, with approval assured, it appears certain that this will be The Hukilau’s swan song at the hotel as it currently exists. “It is amazing that The Hukilau and our villagers will be there for the end of an era,” Oneslager said. “Hollywood couldn’t write a better script.”
The past several years have not been without problems, however. Damage from Hurricane Irma in September 2017 took a toll on the tower, leaving 154 rooms out of commission ever since. In addition to renovating all the tower rooms, Tavistock will tear down an adjacent two-story building containing 230 rooms and replace it with a larger building, the Sun-Sentinel reported. The marina and two nearby restaurants, Grille 66 and Pelican Landing, will remain open during the redevelopment project.
This is The Hukilau’s fifth straight year at the 62-year-old facility. This year’s back-up hotel, the beachside B Ocean Resort, was a host or co-host four times when it was known as the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel and Yankee Clipper. As for 2020, Oneslagar said that he and his team “have narrowed it down to just a few properties.” He was quick to add, however, the “heart of The Hukilau” is the attendees, not the hotel. “A house is just a house,” he said. “Our villagers are what makes it a home.”
The Hukilau host hotels in Fort Lauderdale
2019 – Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina
2018 – Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina
2017 – Hyatt Regency Pier 66
2016 – Hyatt Regency Pier 66
2015 – Hyatt Regency Pier 66
2014 – Bahia Mar Beach Resort
2013 – Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel (Yankee Clipper)
2012 – Best Western Oceanside Inn, Bahia Cabana Beach Resort
2011 – Bahia Mar, Bahia Cabana
2010 – Bahia Mar, Bahia Cabana
2009 – Bahia Cabana
2008 – Yankee Clipper, Bahia Cabana
2007 – Yankee Clipper, Bahia Cabana
2006 – Yankee Clipper
2005 – Bahia Mar
2004 – Bahia Mar, Bahia Cabana
2003 – Holiday Inn
Note: The Hukilau launched in 2002 at the Hilton in Atlanta
The late Bahia Cabana, which was recently demolished to make way for development, was a host or co-host six times. The Bahia Mar, a five-time host, is still standing but has also gone though many refurbishments and sometimes unsuccessful redevelopment attempts. All are located in the popular southern tip of Fort Lauderdale Beach, near the busy cruise port and annual Fort Lauderdale Boat Show.
Will The Hukilau return to the new Pier Sixty-Six in 2021 or beyond? It’s too early to tell, but 2019 is clearly a prime opportunity to grab tickets for one of The Hukilau’s most ambitious lineups ever and blow the doors off the vintage Pier Sixty-Six, Tiki style.
Recent press coverage
* Pier Sixty-Six and Beachcomber resorts laying off nearly 300 workers
* Pier 66 to open waterfront entertainment venue at 17th Street Causeway
* Iconic Pier Sixty-Six proposal includes 127 homes, shops, restaurants, office space
* Pier 66 plans hotel renovation as first step toward new development
The Hukilau past coverage on The Atomic Grog
* 2018 recap: Photos and video from social media | More 2018 coverage
* 2017 daily recaps, news, photos and video | More 2017 coverage
* More recaps: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011