The Hukilau 2019: Tiki Tower Takeover cocktail party sold out – Preview, photos and complete history

For the fifth year in a row, the signature event at The Hukilau has sold out months in advance. The Tiki Tower Takeover, held every June in the 17th floor rooftop ballroom at Pier Sixty-Six in Fort Lauderdale, will have added significance in 2019.

It's hard to beat the view, or the cocktails, in the 17th-floor Pier Top Lounge during the Tiki Tower Takeover at The Hukilau. (Photo by Joanne Galka)

It’s hard to beat the view, or the cocktails, in the 17th-floor Pier Top Lounge during the Tiki Tower Takeover at The Hukilau 2018. (Photo by Joanne Galka)

See more below
HISTORY: Event recaps and photos, 2015-2017
PHOTOS: Recap and new images from last year’s Tiki Tower Takeover
RECIPE: Cotton Mouth Killer from Trailer Happiness

The festive cocktail party that spotlights some of the world’s top Tiki bartenders will celebrate Women Who Tiki with eight female mixologists serving their own special creations. With the hotel closing for a massive refurbishment immediately after The Hukilau, it will also be the last Takeover in the tower for at least two years.

PREVIOUS: Last party at Pier Sixty-Six? Events sell fast as new cocktail classes added

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 25 top Tiki bars and bartenders from around the world.
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ORDER NOW: Get your multi-day passes and individual event tickets
SCHEDULE: Check to see what’s happening on all five days

A view of downtown Fort Lauderdale from the Pier Top Lounge at the Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina during the Tiki Tower Takeover at The Hukilau 2018. (Photo by Scott Broadway)

A view of downtown Fort Lauderdale from the Pier Top Lounge at the Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina during the Tiki Tower Takeover at The Hukilau 2018. (Photo by Scott Broadway)

In addition to the all-female theme, the 2019 event will feature a significant increase in participants over past years, when no more than five bartenders were included. The Hukilau takes over the Pier Top Lounge from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 6. Prior to boarding the elevators to the tower, villagers can enjoy a welcome drink in the hotel’s ground-floor Windows on the Green.

While individual tickets are no longer available, there’s still one way to gain VIP entry. There are a limited number of South Seas passes available ($399 plus fee) that include exclusive early access at 4 p.m. to the Tiki Tower Takeover plus a custom mug from Tiki Farm. This top-of-the-line pass also gets you admission to all five days of events (not including symposiums and classes). Click here for a rundown on all the ticket options, as well as updates on what’s sold out.

Here’s this year’s all-star lineup of bartenders. All are making their first Tiki Tower Takeover appearance, though two have previously served the welcome drink. No previous events have featured more than five bars, so expect an action-packed (and cocktail-filled) party in the Pier Top Lounge this year.

Phoebe Esmon (Photo from spiritanimalbev.com)

Phoebe Esmon (Photo from spiritanimalbev.com)

Sarah Clarke of Hidden Harbor in Pittsburgh. A member of the bar team at the award-winning Tiki cocktail hotspot since its 2016 opening. In addition to Clarke’s debut at the Tiki Tower Takeover, 2019 will mark Hidden Harbor’s third straight year as a pop-up bar and second as a participant in the Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy.

Phoebe Esmon of Curate in Ashville, N.C. Perhaps best known in Tiki cocktail circles for her work (along with partner Christian Gaal) at the Yachtsman in Philadelphia (2014-2017). Since moving to Ashville, the duo has continued to run their beverage consulting business, Spirit Animal, established in 2015. Esmon was previously at The Hukilau 2017, presenting one of her creations as the Tiki Tower Takeover welcome drink.

Jeanie Grant of Pagan Idol in San Francisco. While this is her first official appearance at The Hukilau, Grant is quickly becoming a household name in the Tiki bartending community after winning last year’s Iron TikiTender competition at Tiki Kon in Portland. Her career has blossomed since 2016, when she joined the opening-day team at Pagan Idol, where she’s now bar manager. This is Pagan Idol’s third year as a Hukilau pop-bar and second at the Tiki Tower Takeover.

From left: Shannon Mustipher, Jeanie Grant and Marie King at the first Arizona Tiki Oasis last weekend in Scottsdale. (Instagram photo by Nicholas Feris)

From left: Shannon Mustipher, Jeanie Grant and Marie King at the first Arizona Tiki Oasis in Scottsdale in April 2019. (Instagram photo by Nicholas Feris)

Ayme Harrison of Death Or Glory in Delray Beach. A part-owner as well as a creative force at the award-winning South Florida bar and restaurant. Harrison has previously taught Okole Maluna Society classes at The Hukilau and showcased Death or Glory and her previous bar, Kreepy Tiki Lounge, in pop-up bars at Pier Sixty-Six. She also served the Tiki Tower Takeover welcome drink in 2016.

Marie King of Tonga Hut in Los Angeles. A longtime influencer in the Tiki scene in Southern California as general manager and head mixologist at the historic Hollywood haunt. She also has long participated in rum and Tiki events worldwide, including The Hukilau. This is Tonga Hut’s second year as a pop-up bar.

Sierra Kirk of Hale Pele in Portland. A familiar face and assistant manager at Hale Pele, the ever-popular anchor of the Tiki revival in the Pacific Northwest. Kirk is a 20-year veteran in the industry and a 2015 Iron TikiTender winner known for her talent in creating spectacular flaming drinks. This is Hale Pele’s first appearance at The Hukilau.

Sierra Kirk works her magic at Hale Pele. (Photo by Dan Faris / Facebook)

Sierra Kirk works her magic at Hale Pele. (Photo by Dan Faris / Facebook)

Libby Longlott of UnderTow in Phoenix. aka Libby Lingua, the general manager of the acclaimed Arizona Tiki bar has an eclectic background that includes the fashion industry, floral design, and event coordination. After bartending her way through college, she quickly worked her way up in the bar industry, discovering Tiki at the intimate UnderTow (which opened in 2016). She and the bar are making their debut at The Hukilau in 2019.

Shannon Mustipher of Glady’s in Brooklyn. A relative newcomer to the Tiki scene, this cocktail consultant and spirits educator has made a major impact in a short amount of time. She became beverage director of Glady’s and launched her rum education just five years ago. Her first book, Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails, was released to much fanfare in March. She travels constantly to rum, Tiki and cocktail events to spread her newfound knowledge and passion. It’s her first visit to The Hukilau.

With The Hukilau’s return to Pier Sixty-Six uncertain, at least for the next several years, this fifth edition of the Tiki Tower Takeover will mark the end of an era. And with eight talented bartenders on hand to mark the occasion, this year promises to be the biggest and most festive bash to date.

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Tiki Tower Takeover 2015-2017: History and photos
Jump below: See last year’s recap and exclusive photos, plus bonus recipe

2015 RECAP: Tiki takes over the tower

The Tiki Tower Takeover was the brainchild The Hukilau’s co-founder and organizer from 2002 through 2016, Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White. When the event moved to the iconic Pier Sixty-Six in 2015, she needed to create an equally iconic event for the revolving rooftop lounge on the 17th floor of the mid-century themed hotel.

A sign at the top of the 17-story tower at Pier Sixty-Six in Fort Lauderdale before the first Tiki Tower Takeover in 2015. (Photo by Go11Events.com)

A sign at the top of the 17-story tower at Pier Sixty-Six in Fort Lauderdale before the first Tiki Tower Takeover in 2015. (Photo by Go11Events.com)

Built by owner Phillips Petroleum (aka Phillips 66) for $6 million and opened in 1965, the 250-room tower – which also contains the hotel’s sweeping lobby and a range of restaurants and event space – is a landmark on the south end of Fort Lauderdale’s beachfront. Its signature touch is the “Pier Top Lounge,” which originally was a revolving cocktail lounge that often featured jazz and exotica bands.

Beyond the revolving floor (which was designed to make one revolution every 66 minutes), one of the Pier Top’s more distinctive touches is the crown of 66 spires around the outside of the circular room. Glass-walled elevators take 66 seconds to ascend from the lobby to the top floor. To keep the room open with sweeping 360-degree views of downtown Fort Lauderdale to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, all of the back-of-house kitchen space and infrastructure is contained one floor below. There’s also an outdoor observation deck facing east that offers breathtaking views.
* Previous coverage: The history of Pier Sixty-Six

Over the years, the unique 3,000-square-foot space, which holds up to 300 people, became much more valuable for private events than as a lounge or restaurant. Like The Mai-Kai, it’s one of Fort Lauderdale’s most distinctive venues for weddings and special events. My first experience in the Pier Top was the spring of 1979, when I was honored along with other high school newspaper editors, at a dinner hosted by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. It’s hard to believe that was 40 years ago.

Steve Yamada (left) and Jeff "Beachbum" Berry crank out the T.O.T.C. Swizzle during the Tiki Tower Takeover at The Hukilau on June 11, 2015. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Steve Yamada (left) and Jeff “Beachbum” Berry crank out the T.O.T.C. Swizzle during the Tiki Tower Takeover at The Hukilau on June 11, 2015. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Realizing the historic status of the space, Tiki Kiliki brought out the big guns to help her launch the first Tiki Tower Takeover. To help create the concept and fine-tune the logistics, she looked to The Hukilau’s longtime cocktail guru, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. The acclaimed author and Tiki historian was making his 10th appearance at The Hukilau and also celebrating the launch of his first bar/restaurant, Latitude 29 in New Orleans.

Tiki Kiliki and Berry fleshed out the details and invited three other top Tiki bartenders to join what was conceived as a laid-back happy-hour event. It was made clear that this was not meant to be a competition or raucous party, so music and extraneous distractions were kept to a minimum. Besides the cocktails, the only entertainment was ukulele tunes from King Kukulele and Pablus of The Crazed Mugs. It was scheduled to run from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 11, 2015.

Participating bartenders at the inaugural Tiki Tower Takeover were:
* Jeff “Beachbum” Berry of Latitude 29 (New Orleans)
* Martin Cate of Smuggler’s Cove (San Francisco)
* Paul McGee of Lost Lake (Chicago)
* Brian Miller of Tiki Mondays With Miller (New York City)

Martin Cate, owner of Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco, serves up signature cocktails at last year's Tiki Tower Takeover at Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale. (Photo by Go11Events.com)

Martin Cate, owner of Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco, serves up the Formidable Dragon at the first Tiki Tower Takeover at Pier Sixty-Six in Fort Lauderdale. (Photo by Go11Events.com)

After attending Tales of the Cocktail in 2014, Tiki Kiliki said she was inspired to make The Hukilau “the equivalent in the Tiki world.” By 2015, the ball was already rolling. Just before the event, it was announced that Tales of the Cocktail extended Spirited Awards nominations to Smuggler’s Cove for Best American Cocktail Bar, and both Latitude 29 and Lost Lake for Best New American Cocktail Bar. After The Hukilau, both Smuggler’s Cove and Latitude 29 made the final four. This all firmly established Tiki cocktails on the national cocktail stage.

The Atomic Grog’s preview called the Tiki Tower Takeover a “Murderer’s Row of all-star mixologists,” referring to the famous New York Yankees batting order of the 1920s that no pitcher would ever want to face. In this case, however, The Hukilau’s villagers were very eager to face this lineup, sampling world-class cocktails from some of the country’s top Tiki bars by walking only a few steps. It sold out in advance, which would become an annual occurrence.

The ambiance was perfect and the drinks were, not surprisingly, all outstanding representations of their creators’ respective styles. Berry riffed on a classic with the T.O.T.C. Swizzle, Cate created the rummy and spicy Formidable Dragon, McGee spotlighted craft and creativity with his bar’s namesake drink, while Miller went avant garde with the Pandanarama Daiquiri.
Bonus recipes: T.O.T.C. Swizzle (Beachbum Berry) | Formidable Dragon (Martin Cate) | Lost Lake (Paul McGee)

The event proved to be a close-knit family affair, a feature that continues to this day. Cate was assisted by his wife Rebecca, while McGee joined forces with his personal and business partner Shelby Allison. Miller brought three of his Tiki Mondays crew, while Berry introduced The Hukilau to his Latitude 29 head bartender, Steve Yamada. They posed for numerous group photos, including a memorable one at The Mai-Kai at the end of the night.

Christie "Tiki Kiliki" White (center) with the participants before the first Tiki Tower Takeover (from left): Steve Yamada and Jeff "Beachbum" Berry (Latitude 29), Martin and Rebecca Cate (Smuggler's Cove), Garret Richard and Brian Miller (Tiki Mondays With Miller), Shelby Allison and Paul McGee (Lost Lake). (Photo by Go11Events.com)Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White (center) with the participants before the first Tiki Tower Takeover (from left): Steve Yamada and Jeff “Beachbum” Berry (Latitude 29), Martin and Rebecca Cate (Smuggler’s Cove), Garret Richard and Brian Miller (Tiki Mondays With Miller), Shelby Allison and Paul McGee (Lost Lake). (Photo by Go11Events.com)

Along with the bartenders and their teams, the event was a collaborative effort with The Hukilau’s unsung bar staff led by spirits coordinator Dean Hurst, and including such notable assistants as Florida’s Straw Hat Barmen. Both continue in their back-of-house roles in making sure the Tiki Tower Takeover delivers the best possible guest experience.

More 2015 coverage: Photo gallery | Recap, cocktail reviews and more photos

2016 RECAP: A taste of the world’s best Tiki bars at the top of their game

Lost Lake's Paul McGee and Shelby Allison returned to the Tiki Tower Takeover for a second year in 2016. (Atomic Grog photo)

Lost Lake’s Paul McGee and Shelby Allison returned to the Tiki Tower Takeover for a second year in 2016. (Atomic Grog photo)

Participating bartenders and bars:
* Jeff “Beachbum” Berry of Latitude 29 (New Orleans)
* Martin Cate of Smuggler’s Cove (San Francisco)
* Paul McGee of Lost Lake (Chicago)
* Brian Miller of Tiki Mondays With Miller (New York City)
* St. John Frizell of Fort Defiance (Brooklyn)

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” was the mantra for 2016, and why not? With a lineup this good, plus the word-of-mouth generated by the inaugural event, the second Tiki Tower Takeover sold out in record time. Individual Tiki Tower Takeover tickets went on sale in October and were gone in November, more than six months before the event.

The top-tier South Seas pass was also introduced this year, with key perks including tickets and early access to the Tiki Tower Takeover, plus a special mug created by Eekum Bookum. The limited-edition Pier 66 Tower Barrel Mug included two icons in one mug: The Pier Sixty-Six tower and The Mai-Kai’s Rum Barrel. [See photo] Likely due to the demand for the tower event, South Seas passes also sold out.

The only tweak in the June 9 lineup was the addition of St. John Frizell, owner-operator of Fort Defiance in Brooklyn and host of The Sunken Harbor Club, a monthly Tiki pop-up. Frizell was also fresh off his victory in The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown at the New York City Wine & Food Festival.

Guests waiting to enter the elevators to the tower also received a welcome drink provided by Ayme Harrison and her crew at Fort Lauderdale’s Kreepy Tiki Lounge. Harrison later joined the ownership team at Delray Beach’s Death Or Glory, and this year she returns as one of the eight main participants in the tower.

The Tiki Mondays With Miller crew (from left): Ryan Liloia, Capt. Brian Miller, Jelani Jah Edwards-Jöhnson, and Garret Richard. (Photo by Go11Events.com)

The Tiki Mondays With Miller crew (from left): Ryan Liloia, Capt. Brian Miller, Jelani Jah Edwards-Jöhnson, and Garret Richard. (Photo by Go11Events.com)

Hot food stations were added in 2016, but due to logistics it also put the rotating floor on hold. The cocktails once again were the star, of course, with all the bartenders rising to the occasion with creative concoctions using sponsor Rhum Barbancourt. Berry and Latitude 29 bar manager Brad Smith channeled legendary Tiki bartender Ray Buhen Sr. of the Tiki-Ti in Los Angeles with The Master Ninja. Cate presented the smooth, creamy and rummy Captivation. The Funky Derelict was Miller’s rum-centric spin on an Old Fashioned.

Served in a young coconut, McGee’s All Static, All Day had the evening’s most distinctive flavors and best presentation. Frizell didn’t mess around, serving his signature White Zombie with 10 ingredients. It was complex but also balanced and refreshing.
Bonus recipes: The Master Ninja (Beachbum Berry and Latitude 29) | Captivation (Martin Cate and Smuggler’s Cove)

We didn’t know it at the time, but 2016 marked the end of the “classic era” of the Tiki Tower Takeover. It featured some of the Tiki genre’s best bartenders and bar owners at the top of their game, just hanging out and slinging drinks. The lineup would change entirely in 2017, and The Hukilau would adjust to its first year without Tiki Kiliki. But as all good things must come to an end, we also looked forward to a new and exciting future.

More 2016 coverage: Photo gallery, recap, cocktail reviews and more

2017 RECAP: New blood invigorates year three lineup

Rum ambassador Ian Burrel (from left) with Tiki Tower Takeover bartenders Scotty Schuder (Dirty Dick), Kevin Beary and Cory Starr (Three Dots and a Dash). (Atomic Grog photo)

Rum ambassador Ian Burrel (from left) with Tiki Tower Takeover bartenders Scotty Schuder (Dirty Dick), Kevin Beary and Cory Starr (Three Dots and a Dash). (Atomic Grog photo)

Participating bartenders and bars:
* Kevin Beary and Julian Cox of Three Dots and a Dash (Chicago)
* Garret Richard of Slowly Shirley (New York City)
* Scotty Schuder of Dirty Dick (Paris)
* Daniele Dalla Pola of Nu Lounge Bar (Italy)

If 2015-2016 is the “classic era” in the history of the Tiki Tower Takeover, then 2017-2018 could be considered the “international era.” Though the event itself remained the same basic format, there were many new faces behind the bars, including a growing overseas contingent.

“The new line-up is a great mix of contemporary American Tiki bars, and two world class standouts from Europe,” The Hukilau’s new owner/organizer, Richard Oneslager, announced. “In addition, we have one of the world’s leading rum experts emceeing the event for us.” That would be UK-based global rum ambassador Ian Burrell, who provided his usual charm and charisma along with another international voice.

Rising star Garret Richard was a longtime participant in The Hukilau and served as Brian Miller’s right hand in the previous two Tiki Tower parties. The other bar teams – from Three Dots and a Dash, Dirty Dick and Nu Lounge Bar – were making their debuts in the tower.

Daniele Dalla Pola of Nu Lounge Bar in Bologna, Italy, creates his own "Tiki tower" while serving his Nu Nui Nui cocktails at the Tiki Tower Takeover in June 2018. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Daniele Dalla Pola of Nu Lounge Bar in Bologna, Italy, creates his own “Tiki tower” while serving his Nu Nui Nui cocktails at the Tiki Tower Takeover in June 2018. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

The pressure was high, but these seasoned pros stepped up to fill the big shoes of their predecessors on Thursday, June 8, without missing a beat, serving some of the best drinks in the event’s history. All of the participants brought their own distinctive flair to the event, solidifying the format and proving that it can be used as a perfect platform to showcase delicious and inventive cocktails.

All of the cocktails were outstanding. Dalla Pola’s Nu Nui Nui stood out as a modern spin on Don the Beachcomber’s Nui Nui with his own special spice blend. My other favorite was Schuder’s Espiritu de Caracas, a modern and refreshing blend of rum, cucumber and exotic flavors (chartreuse, cinnamon, falernum). Beary and Cox presented their signature Three Dots and a Dash, a well-balanced cavalcade of flavors that takes Don the Beachcomber’s original to a new level. Meanwhile, Richard went in a non-traditional direction with his charming Pacific Ocean Blue, a rich and luxurious blend of exotic flavors.
Bonus recipes: Three Dots and a Dash (Three Dots and a Dash) | Nu Nui Nui (Daniele Dalla Pola)

There was also no drop-off in entertainment value from previous years. Dalla Pola thrilled the crowd by repeatedly pouring his signature tower of cocktails, while all the bartenders showed off their own distinctive flair. Beary, Schuder and Dalla Pola are now fixtures at The Hukilau, but the 2017 Tiki Tower Takeover was their launching pad. The three are teaching their third year of classes in the Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy in 2019, as well as hosting pop-up bars throughout the event.

More 2017 coverage: Recap, cocktail reviews and photos

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Tiki Tower Takeover 2018: Overseas bartenders star as lineup expands

Participating bartenders and bars:
* Kevin Beary of Three Dots and a Dash (Chicago)
* Scotty Schuder of Dirty Dick (Paris)
* Daniele Dalla Pola of Nu Lounge Bar (Italy)
* Stuart Hudson of Trailer Happiness (London)
* Brother Cleve (Boston) with Doc Parks of Pagan Idol (San Francisco)

Cocktail legend Brother Cleve from Boston is happy to be at his first Tiki Tower Takeover, serving up The Natal Queen. (Photo by Jim Neumayer)

Cocktail legend Brother Cleve from Boston is happy to be at his first Tiki Tower Takeover, serving up The Natal Queen. (Photo by Jim Neumayer)

Another international bar and a Tiki cocktail forefather joined the party in 2018, raising the bar and energy level at the fourth Tiki Tower Takeover. Three Dots and a Dash, Dirty Dick and Nu Lounge Bar were back for a second year, while London’s Trailer Happiness made its first appearance at The Hukilau. This gave the overseas bars a majority for the first time.

A fifth bar was added for just the second time, but it was manned by a “freelancer” not employed by a brick-and-mortar locale. Brother Cleve is a pioneer in the craft and Tiki cocktail scenes dating back decades. He’s also a veteran musician (from The Del Fuegos to Combustible Edison), DJ and musicologist. He graced the Tiki Tower Takeover with assistance from Doc Parks of San Francisco’s Pagan Idol. The result was the event’s most diverse lineup ever, enabling The Hukilau’s villagers to crisscross the globe and meet bartenders that would never be possible elsewhere.

The latest Spirited Awards winner to appear at the Tiki Tower Takeover, Trailer Happiness (Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar, 2017) was represented by noted high-volume bartender Stuart Hudson. The Tiki Tower Takeover was a piece of cake for Hudson, who cranked out one of his bar’s most acclaimed cocktails, the Cotton Mouth Killer.
* Check out the bonus Cotton Mouth Killer recipe below

Scotty Schuder of Dirty Dick presents the Pandan Pain Killer. (Atomic Grog photo)

Scotty Schuder of Dirty Dick presents the Pandan Pain Killer. (Atomic Grog photo)

Daniele Dalla Pola once again wowed the crowd with his precarious drink-building technique, but he never spilled a drop of the Kama’aina. The drink was one of the standouts, featuring coconut and guava with two distinctive rums and one of Dalla Pola’s special mixes (#9).

Kevin Beary and his Three Dots and a Dash crew served up another classic with their own unique twist, a powerful Zombie garnished to the hilt. Our other favorite was Scotty Schuder’s Pandan Pain Killer, a crafty version of the tropical standard. Borrowing from Southeast Asian cuisine, Schuder employed a distinctive syrup made from coconut and pandan juice.

Here’s the full lineup of cocktails, ranked using a 1-5 scale:

4 – Pandan Pain Killer by Dirty Dick (Don Q gold rum, Coco Pandan, pineapple juice, orange juice).

4 – Zombie by Three Dots and a Dash (Appleton 12-year-old and Smith & Cross rums, Kev’s 57, fassionola, cinnamon syrup, lime juice, grapefruit juice, Angostura bitters).

3.5 – Kama’aina by Nu Lounge Bar (Bacardi Quatro and Plantation Barbados rums, Real coconut, #9, guava nectar, lime juice, Angostura bitters).

Back for their second Tiki Tower Takeover, the crew from Chicago's Three Dots and a Dash (Aiden Dillon, Cory Starr and Kevin Beary) serves up their take on the classic Zombie. (Atomic Grog photo)

Back for their second Tiki Tower Takeover, the crew from Chicago’s Three Dots and a Dash (Aiden Dillon, Cory Starr and Kevin Beary) serves up their take on the classic Zombie. (Atomic Grog photo)

3 – Cotton Mouth Killer by Trailer Happiness (Don Q Cristal, Don Q Gold and Wray & Newphew Overproof rums, Giffard apricot brandy, Galliano, guava juice, apple juice, lime juice).

3 – The Natal Queen by Brother Cleve (Diplomatico Planas and Hamilton Demerara 86 rums, Real passion fruit, Orgeat Works orgeat, pineapple juice, key lime juice, siracha, Angostura bitters).

Once again, it’s necessary to give a huge pat on the back to The Hukilau’s bar team as well as all of the participating bars. But until I saw these stats, I didn’t really appreciate how much work they do. This encompasses all of the cocktails served in 2018, including the Tiki Tower Takeover, High Tide and pool parties, symposiums and classes.

According to spirits coordinator Dean Hurst, the bar team worked six 16-hour days supporting 12 Tiki bars and produced:
* Fresh ingredients including 4,000 ounces of pineapple juice, 3,100 ounces of lime juice, 2,316 ounces of lemon juice, 1,277 ounces of orange juice, and 1,020 ounces of grapefruit juice;
* Garnish including 8,200 pineapple leaves, 5,000 mint sprigs, 2,260 fresh orchids, 1,000 lemon wheels, 1,000 lemon slices, 1,000 lime wheels, and 600 lime wedges;
* A total of 17,000 cocktails;
* And hopefully thousands of smiles!

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PHOTO GALLERY: Tiki Tower Takeover 2018
June 7, 2018, at Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina, Fort Lauderdale

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BONUS RECIPE: COTTON MOUTH KILLER
(From Trailer Happiness, as served at the Tiki Tower Takeover at The Hukilau 2018. Re-created by Hurricane Hayward of The Atomic Grog)

Cotton Mouth Killer tribute by The Atomic Grog. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, July 2018)

Cotton Mouth Killer tribute by The Atomic Grog. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, July 2018)

* 1 ounce Don Q Cristal rum
* 1 ounce Don Q Gold rum
* 1/2 ounce Bluberproof (see below)
* 1/2 ounce apricot brandy
* 1/8 ounce Galliano
* 1 1/4 ounces guava juice
* 1 1/4 ounces apple juice
* 1 ounce lime juice

Shake everything – except Bluberproof – with ice. Strain into a tall glass filled with crushed ice. Float Bluberproof. Garnish with a pineapple leaf.

This unusual cocktail has a definite beginning, middle and end. It starts off light and refreshing, with multiple exotic and nuanced flavors vying for your attention. About halfway through, the 126-proof Bluberproof will make itself known, adding a strong, dry and funky element to give the cocktail a boost. By the end, the overproof rum becomes even more aggressive, providing a potent blast of Jamaican funk.

This is very similar to the recipe for Cotton-Mouth Killer #2 in the 10th anniversary edition of Beachbum Berry’s Sippin’ Safari. That recipe, circa 2012, was adapted by Alexx Mouzouris and Richard Hunt from the original Cotton-Mouth Killer #1 created by Tim Stones at Trailer Happiness in 2007. We’ve also seen it spelled Cottonmouth Killer. Nevermind the punctuation discrepancies, there are several key differences in the three recipes.

The Cotton Mouth Killer at the Tiki Tower Takeover during The Hukilau 2018. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

The Cotton Mouth Killer at the Tiki Tower Takeover during The Hukilau 2018. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Version 2 replaced the original’s passion fruit syrup with apricot brandy. It also added guava and apple juices in place of pineapple and orange. The cocktail’s amusing back-story is featured in the new, final chapter of the enhanced Sippin’ Safari (2017, Cocktail Kingdom). Just as amusing is the drink’s garnish, a “Campari candy floss” made with a cotton candy machine and the bitter Italian liqueur. The floss was designed to give drinker a bitter, dry mouthfeel that could then be “killed” with the cocktail. Eventually, Trailer Happiness retired the machine and contracted with a candy company to make Campari marshmallows, which were toasted with a blowtorch before serving. I’m sorry we missed this creative touch at The Hukilau. If you’re in London, be sure to visit the bar and see what you get with the latest version.

We’re not sure if the above recipe is the official version 3, but we’re following the ingredient list posted at The Hukilau and coming as close as possible to the flavor profile we tasted. Many of the measurements are tweaked, and there are several major differences from #2: Gold rum was added to supplement the white Puerto Rican rum, Licor 43 was replaced by Galliano, and lime juice took the the place of lemon juice. The pineapple leaf garnish is a throwback to version 1.

Ingredient and mixing notes

Stuart Hudson of Trailer Happiness puts the finishing touch on the Cotton Mouth Killer during the Tiki Tower Takeover at The Hukilau 2018. The London bar adds blue food coloring to Wray & Newphew Overproof rum to create its signature "Bluberproof." (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Stuart Hudson of Trailer Happiness puts the finishing touch on the Cotton Mouth Killer during the Tiki Tower Takeover at The Hukilau 2018. The London bar adds blue food coloring to Wray & Newphew Overproof rum to create its signature “Bluberproof.” (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

* So what the hell is Bluberproof? It’s simply shorthand for blue overproof rum, another unusual Trailer Happiness invention that’s actually quite simple. Add 3 to 5 drops of blue food coloring per 2 ounces of Wray & Newphew Overproof rum. At the Tiki Tower Takeover, bartender Stuart Hudson could be seen pouring the funky blue rum from Wray & Newphew’s signature 1.75-liter “handles.” Without the food coloring, you just don’t get the same “wow factor” with the presentation, though it will taste exactly the same. If so inclined, feel free to substitute one of the other white Jamaican overproof rums that recently hit the U.S. market: Rum Bar and Rum Fire.

* Use a quality apricot brandy, such as the Giffard brand used at The Hukilau. The recipe in Sippin’ Safari calls for Merlet. Both are much superior to the typical flavored brandy you’ll find on the bottom shelf next to the schnapps. In a pinch, Marie Brizard Apry would work.

* Galliano is a sweet herbal liqueur from Italy with dominant vanilla flavors. It’s a bit more potent and sophisticated than Licor 43. But the Spanish liqueur also known as Cuarenta y Tres would also work fine.

* Fresh-squeezed lime juice is essential. Bottled juices are your only option for guava and apple. Guava nectar is acceptable if that’s all you can find, just beware it contains added sugar. Unfiltered apple juice (the cloudy kind) is much preferred over other options.

Okole maluna!

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More past cocktails served at The Hukilau
In addition to the Tiki Tower Takeover recipes listed above, here are recipes for other cocktails that we’ve enjoyed over the years at Fort Lauderdale’s annual Tiki weekender, some created exclusively for the event:
* Greedo in Paradise (Brian Miller, 2016)
* Paradise City (Rhum Barbancourt, 2016)
* Spicy Hula Girl (The Mai-Kai, 2016)
* 1862 Rhum Punch (The Mai-Kai, 2015)
* Five Island Fizz (David Delaney / Angostura Rum, 2013)
* Tukupi’s Cup (John Tremain and Matt Anderson, 2013)
* Witch Doctor (Beachbum Berry and Stephen Remsberg, 2013)
* Rum Rat Pack Punch (Martin Cate, 2011)
* Papeete Paralyzer (Damon Bolte, 2010)
* Rum Pot (Beachbum Berry, 2008)

About Hurricane Hayward

A professional journalist and Florida resident for more than 30 years, Jim "Hurricane" Hayward shares his obsession with Polynesian Pop and other retro styles on his blog, The Atomic Grog. Jim's roots in mid-century and reto culture go back to his childhood in the 1960s, when he tagged along with his parents to Tiki restaurants and his father's custom car shows. His experience in journalism, mixology, and more than 20 years as an independent concert promoter make him a jack-of-all-trades in the South Florida scene. A graduate of the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications, Jim is a longtime web producer for The Palm Beach Post. In his spare time, he has promoted hundreds of rock, punk, and indie concerts under the Slammie Productions name since the early 1990s. In 2011, he launched The Atomic Grog to extensively cover events, music, art, cocktails, and culture with a retro slant. Jim earned his nickname by virtue of both his dangerous exotic drinks and his longtime position producing The Post's tropical weather website.
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