The Mai-Kai sale, Oceanic Arts closing among top Tiki stories of 2021

After the suffering bastard of a year that was 2020, we were primed and ready for some relief and positive Tiki vibes. If 2020 was a house of horrors, then 2021 was a roller-coaster ride. But while we’re still mired in pandemic-related disruptions, many things achieved a “new normal” over the past 12 months.
RELATED: The Year in Tiki 2021 – A look back at the year’s top live and virtual events

We remain thankful for every bit of good news. While a few of the stories below are frustrating (No. 4) or bittersweet (No. 1), they’re far out-numbered by the explosions of creativity and collective talent that drove most of the year’s activity. For that, we toast the entire Tiki community with a new cocktail and The Atomic Grog’s picks for the 10 most newsworthy stories of 2021.
Bonus recipe below: The Tiki Lover

1. ALOHA AND FAREWELL, OCEANIC ARTS

Oceanic Arts closing after 65 years

As sure as the sun rose in the east and set in the west, there was one enduring creative force over the past six decades of Polynesian Pop style. In November 2021, there was a total eclipse and extended period of mourning when it was announced that Oceanic Arts would be closing its doors as its 80-something-year-old founders embark on a well-deserved retirement. Established in 1956 in Southern California by Robert Van Oosting and LeRoy Schmaltz, the company was always the go-to provider of original and imported pieces of South Seas art and decor for everyone from home enthusiasts to theme park giants including Disney (the doors to Trader Sam’s in Disneyland are Schmaltz’ handiwork). Art and woodwork originating from Oceanic Arts has been featured in nearly every legendary Polynesian palace, from Don the Beachcomber to Trader Vic’s to The Mai-Kai. The company put together movie set pieces and provided the distinctive style of many of the mid 20th century’s Tiki-themed hotels and motels, bowling alleys, and countless other establishments. Buoyed by the Tiki revival, the small shop in Whittier became a mecca for Tikiphiles from around the world and inspired a new generation of carvers and artists in the 21st century.

While the closing seemed to have come out of the blue, Van Oosting and Schmaltz had been planning their retirement for some time. They joined forces with longtime friend Jordan Reichek, owner of Peekaboo Gallery in nearby Montrose, for an epic career-spanning retrospective coming in 2022. In the spring, look for what’s being called an “experiential Tiki exhibition” featuring art and artifacts from Oceanic Arts paired with special events that include live music and performances, panel discussions, an “epic Tiki bar,” and more. The events will culminate with the “ultimate Tiki auction” art show and sale. In the meantime, the gallery is taking pre-orders for a mammoth Oceanic Arts history book compiled and written by Reichek, who worked closely with Van Oosting and Schmaltz. Oceanic Arts: The Godfathers of Tiki is a 500-page opus that documents the rich history of Oceanic Arts via thousands of photos, original artwork and historical documents from the archives. After 65 years, Oceanic Arts leaves an indelible mark on pop culture that is likely to last for many more decades to come.

PeekabooGallery.com: Pre-order the book now
Get social media updates: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter
News: Whittier’s Oceanic Arts, the delight of tiki lovers around the world, is closing
Online tribute: Quiet Village podcast dedicated to Oceanic Arts

Past coverage
* Video: Inside the Desert Oasis Room | A Moment of Tiki
Randomland | Huel Howser
* Van Oosting and Schmaltz on the Inside the Desert Oasis Room podcast
* The enchanting tikis of Oceanic Arts (Disney History 101)

2. PARADISE SAVED: NEW OWNERS REVIVE THE MAI-KAI

The entire Tiki community heaved a sigh of relief in September when the announcement came that The Mai-Kai – the historic, 65-year-old restaurant in Fort Lauderdale that has been closed due to storm damage since October 2020 – was saved from extinction by a new ownership team that will pump millions of dollars into a restoration and refurbishment. The year started with much concern after press reports emerged about the roof damage that destroyed the kitchen. A “Save The Mai-Kai” petition gathered more than 10,000 signatures in less than a month as devoted fans united online to share their support and concerns. The skeleton crew of owners and staff continued to offer regular takeout cocktails and began a series of events in the expansive parking lot. The highlights were The Mai-Kai’s first-ever Tiki Marketplace in April featuring vendors, entertainers, cocktails, rum tasting and more. A follow-up event in July kept the momentum going while behind-the-scene negotiations were likely starting to ramp up.

The Mai-Kai fans rejoice as new partnership paves way for reopening
The Mai-Kai fans rejoice as new partnership paves way for reopening

The big announcement came in September, just after hundreds of Tikiphiles from around the country finally returned to Fort Lauderdale for the 19th edition of The Hukilau. Then, a week later, the long-awaited news dropped. The founding Thornton family released details on social media on Sept. 28, outlining the joint venture with a South Florida-based real estate investment and development company known for working with legacy businesses. Its sister hospitality company already operates several vintage venues in Miami’s Little Havana. “We’re looking forward to working closely with the Barlington Group and Mad Room Hospitality to sustain The Mai-Kai the world has come to know and love,” the announcement said. “We’re excited to bring back The Mai-Kai better than ever before — and for you to be a special part of it!” Check out links to our in-depth report above and latest updates below.

Latest news on The Mai-Kai renovations and reopening in 2022
UPDATES: Latest news on The Mai-Kai renovations and reopening in 2022
When will the historic Polynesian restaurant be welcoming back guests? We’ll keep you updated with the latest news.

3. LET’S TIKI! THE RETURN OF LIVE EVENTS

The crushing blow of the pandemic was not easy to overcome for event organizers, but we slowly came out of our homes in 2021 and began to gather again in safe and physically-distanced environments. Longtime online meet-ups – most notably Tiki Trail Live and Spike’s Breezeway Cocktail Hour – continued to thrive. But many longed for live human interaction, and a handful of key (mainly outdoor) events delivered that experience in the year’s early months. Then, when vaccines became widely available, we saw the return of several major Tiki events starting with Arizona Tiki Oasis on April 22-25. Carefully organized by Baby Doe and Otto von Stroheim, the event paved the way for an active summer, including the couple’s flagship Tiki Oasis on July 28 -Aug. 1 in San Diego. Momentum slowed in the late summer and fall as the first of several coronavirus variants emerged, but Tikiphiles still flocked to scaled-down events including Ohana: Luau At The Lake in upstate New York, The Hukilau and Tiki Fever in Florida, and Tiki Caliente in Palm Springs, Calif. Rum aficionados around the world also were able to get back into the swing of tasting events, from the Jamaica Rum Festival in March to the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival in November. See the full list of major 2021 events below.

The Year in Tiki 2021: Take a look back at the year's top live and virtual events
The Year in Tiki 2021: Take a look back at the year’s top live and virtual events
Recap the year’s top happenings, including official artwork and links plus photos and video.

4. OKOLE MALUNA! BARS REOPEN, BUT PANDEMIC WOES REMAIN

The COVID roller-coaster ride that started in 2020 continued in 2021 for the entire hospitality industry, with small independent bars and restaurants continuing to bear an unfair share of the burden. While a few remained closed (most notably The Mai-Kai and Clifton’s Pacific Seas) and some were lost permanently, the year was marked by many celebratory reopenings. After many months of curbside and take-out service, outdoor seating and outright closures, it was great to see guests again able to enjoy many of the world’s top Tiki enclaves. Those returning to full service in 2021 included Archipelago (Washington, D.C.), Hale Pele (Portland), Hidden Harbor (Pittsburgh), Last Rites (San Francisco), Lost River (Detroit), Navy Strength (Seattle), Otto’s Shrunken Head (New York City), Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge (Minneapolis), Shore Leave (Boston), Smuggler’s Cove (San Francisco), Strong Water (Anaheim), Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney World, Tiki-Ti (Los Angeles), and Tonga Hut (Los Angeles). Meanwhile in the U.K., Trailer Happiness reopened in May but had to shut down again in July when catastrophic flooding invaded the underground space. The London bar community came to the rescue, hosting pop-ups and helping to raise more than £50,000 that enabled Trailer Happiness to reopen a fully renovated bar in December. As the year progressed and virus variants arose, some locations were forced to shutter for short periods. Unfortunately, December’s closings took a toll and resulted in the demise of Chicago’s beloved Lost Lake. To make ends meet, most Tiki bars continued to offer a wide range of merchandise for purchase online and on-site. Click below to browse our continually updated list of bars selling merch online, plus updates on opening and closing status.

Support Tiki bars now by visiting their online stores, contributing to fundraisers
UPDATES: Support Tiki bars: Visit their online stores, buy the latest merchandise
Check out our updated guide for links to dozens of establishments with online stores, including news on exclusive new releases.

5. DONN GETS HIS DUE WITH NEW FILM, BOOK IN THE WORKS

Don the Beachcomber book and film in the works

There are two distinct eras in the history of both cocktails and 20th century Tiki culture: B.D. (Before Donn) and A.D. (After Donn). Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt opened Don’s Beachcomber Cafe in December 1933, forever altering the landscape of not just cocktail culture but also kick-starting a new genre of escapist and immersive style that eventually permeated nearly every aspect of mid-century leisure life in America. Gantt legally changed his name to Donn Beach after launching the Don the Beachcomber empire in Hollywood, Calif. From World War II veteran to ambassador of South Seas culture, he lived the rest of his life with an interesting dichotomy of flamboyant yet secretive showman until his death in 1989. Jeff “Beachbum” Berry decoded Beach’s secret cocktail recipes in his books, spurring a rabid fascination with the life and times of Tiki’s founding father. But little is known about the man himself, except for the stories in the two books overseen by his last wife, Phoebe Beach, released in the early 2000s.

Fast forward to 2021, and two major projects are in the works that promise to finally put Donn’s life story into perspective for modern audiences. Funded by an overwhelmingly successfully Kickstarter campaign, The Donn of Tiki is a labor of love by filmmakers Alex Lamb and Max Well, aka Surf Monkey Films. Through the end of the year, 812 backers pledged $199,143 to help bring the venture to life. From his rum-running days in the Caribbean, to adventures in WWII, to helping shape tourism in Hawaii, the filmmakers aim to reveal every major aspect of Beach’s colorful life. Personal journals and audio recordings help tell the story, but you’ll also see and hear from many in today’s scene who were influenced by Beach. Lamb and Well, who conceived the project in 2019, spent the past year filming interviews around the country. Thanks to the financial backing, they say they’re on track to have the film finished before the end of 2022.

Meanwhile, an associate producer on the film is working on his own project, a book that promises to dive even deeper into Beach’s history. The Searching for Don the Beachcomber biography came to life in early 2021, when Tim “Swanky” Glazner (author of Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant) was gifted Phoebe Beach’s entire archive of thousands of rare photos, documents, writings, and ephemera from Donn Beach’s estate. Glazner spent most of the year pouring over and organizing this mountain of information, sharing fascinating tidbits on his blog. Check there for updates on the book and film, along with the social media links below.
* The Donn of Tiki updates: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter
* Searching for Don the Beachcomber updates: Instagram | Facebook


Inside the Desert Oasis Room
* Podcast: Alex Lamb and Max Well interview
* Video: Donn Beach’s final resting place | Behind the scenes at Tiki-Ti
More coverage
* Audio: Tim Glazner on the Quiet Village podcast

6. REVIVAL REVIVED: FLURRY OF NEW TIKI BAR OPENINGS

When times are tough, a little escapism (and a nice, stiff Tiki cocktail) is always crucial in helping the average Joe manage his crazy life. In 2021, Tiki bars fit that role perfectly, providing a respite from the madness. Not only did many classic establishments reopen after extended closings (see No. 4 above), there was a flurry of new bar openings across the country. Sure, there were numerous challenges – from supply chain disruptions to labor shortages. But these new businesses did not skimp on quality. From classic and inventive original cocktails, to traditional and modern decor, these new spaces followed the Tiki tradition, but also reached new heights. Several existing establishments moved and/or received extensive upgrades. UnderTow relocated to a redesigned, larger space in Phoenix while planning to open a sister venue in 2022. Tiki Tom’s in Walnut Creek, Calif., underwent a complete refub thanks to master builder Bamboo Ben and son Blake, bringing it up to authentic Tiki standards. And Tiki Underground shut down its original Hudson, Ohio, location in November in preparation for a move to a vintage building in Cuyahoga Falls in early 2022. Here are 11 new bars that made a splash with high profile grand openings last year:

New Tiki bars open in 2021

* MARCH: Burnt Ends Tiki Bar in St. Petersburg, Fla., is not your typical tropical oasis. But this is Florida, after all. Located above the Dr. BBQ restaurant (featuring the cuisine of legendary pitmaster Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe), this indoor-outdoor escape is exotic and inviting with cocktails created by beverage director Dean Hurst, a veteran consultant/mixologist and longtime spirits coordinator at The Hukilau).
* APRIL: Hugman’s Oasis in San Antonio, Texas, was designed by Bamboo Ben Bassham, bringing total Tiki immersion to the downtown River Walk, along with craft cocktails to match.
* MAY: Trader Vic’s at San Jose Airport is a rare new U.S. location from the venerable worldwide restaurant chain (joining Atlanta and the flagship in Emeryville, Calif.). This small outpost is not easily accessible beyond security checkpoints in the international airport’s Terminal B, but where else can you grab an original Mai Tai from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week?
* JUNE: Inside Passage in Seattle is the sister bar to Rhumba, shunning the Tiki label with an “underwater, sunken ship, tropical immersion” theme. Does it belong on this list? Immerse yourself in the dark and artistic space, try the creative cocktails in flamboyant mugs, and judge for yourself.
* SEPTEMBER: Secret Island Tiki Restaurant and Lounge in Long Beach, Calif., combines traditional Tiki touches with live music in an all-ages venue (located speakeasy-style below an Irish pub and sports bar).
Backwater Voodoo in Miamisburg, Ohio, is a mash-up of authentic Tiki cocktails with creole cuisine that pays tribute to New Orleans.
* OCTOBER: Tiki Tatsu-Ya in Austin, Texas, pairs next-level artistry and cocktails (from beverage manager Cory Starr, ex Three Dots and a Dash) with a sophisticated restaurant menu (from chef-owner Tatsu Aikawa).
* NOVEMBER: Sunken Harbor Club in Brooklyn, N.Y., follows the trend of an exotic cocktail lair tucked away inside an established restaurant, but this is no ordinary establishment. Upstairs in the venerable Gage & Tollner restaurant you’ll find the fully realized version of St. John Frizell’s weekly pop-up and some of the best cocktails in New York City, Tiki or otherwise, courtesy of mixologists Stephen Bielawski and Garrett Richard.
Wilfred’s Lounge in Napa, Calif., brings a tropical vibe and stellar drinks by Tiki cocktail maestro Daniel “Doc” Parks (ex Zombie Village and Pagan Idol) to wine country. The restaurant and bar pay tribute to the owners’ Hawaiian roots with decor created by a who’s who of modern Tiki design (Bamboo Ben, Billy Crud, Bill Collins, Chris Lopes, Woody Miller, Jose Mendez, and Ken Pleasant).
* DECEMBER: Dr. Funk in San Jose, Calif., seamlessly blends traditional Tiki drinks with top-notch decor by local artist Notch Gonzalez. Named for the classic cocktail, the bar keeps things authentic with a familiar tropical vibe, but also includes nods to its namesake with a subtle medical theme.
Wusong Road in Cambridge, Mass., is an American Chinese restaurant with Tiki flair (and cocktails) plus affordable fine dining.

7. TIKI MUG MANIA: NEW DESIGNS TAKE ART FORM TO NEW LEVEL

New Tiki mugs wow collectors in 2021

The pandemic seemed to stoke the fire in artists across the Tiki world, from carvers to fine artists (see No. 9 below). After a difficult 2020, there was an explosion of new merchandise across the board, making it very difficult to decide where to spend our hard-earned cash. But for many of us, it was a no-brainer. An overwhelming number of new Tiki mugs (and other custom glassware) hit the market in 2021, from veteran producers and new artists alike. It was a great year for newcomers to showcase their work, and several emerged as new favorites: Oakwash (aka Omar Girona, a creative and prolific artist from Louisiana), Outl1n3 Island (aka David Outline, whose work on the Tapa Punch mug for the Harry Yee AAPI Fundraiser was outstanding), Pleasant Tiki (aka Ken and Heather Pleasant, carrying on the tradition of Witco Decor), and Patrick Vassar (who collaborated on some of the most whimsical mugs of the year).

There was also a ton of outstanding releases featuring the work of the top dogs of the Tiki mug world, including: Big Toe, Bosko, Eekum Bookum, Doug Horne, Squid, Thor, Tiki Diablo, and TikiRob. The dominant manufacturer remains the mightly Tiki Farm, but smaller producers are stepping up with a wide array of creative mugs. Be sure to check out the high-profile artists working with Bauer Pottery, the wacky offerings from Geeki Tikis, the adventurous mugs from Lost Temple Traders, and the avant-garde and artistic pieces from Munkitiki Imports. It was hard to keep up with all these creative endeavors, but luckily there are websites and social media outlets that make it a little easier. Among our favorites: Exotica Moderne magazine from House of Tabu, My Tiki Life, and the most comprehensive: The Search for Tiki.

New Tiki mugs wow collectors in 2021

8. ZOMBIE ALERT: BEACHBUM BERRY SCARES UP NEW HAMILTON RUM

What happens when you mix equal parts Caribbean rum importer/connoisseur and Tiki cocktail historian/author/barkeep? Shake well with a heaping cup of creativity and wisdom and you get one of the most welcome spirits to invade the tropical cocktail realm in recent memory. The June release of Beachbum Berry’s Zombie Blend from Hamilton Rum was just what the doctor ordered in a chaotic 2021. The 118-proof blend of rums from Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad quickly became one of acclaimed importer Ed Hamilton‘s fastest selling products, despite myriad logistical issues that kept distribution limited to fits and starts for much of the year. For Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, the rum was yet another career milestone after his decades of immersion in Tiki coctkail culture. The owner of Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 in New Orleans established his Tiki cred with six books and the Total Tiki app, followed by a line of essential barware produced by Cocktail Kingdom.

Berry’s crowning achievement as a researcher was his decade-long quest to decode Don the Beachcomber’s original Zombie recipe. Revealed in the 2007 classic, Sippin’ Safari (expanded and reissued 2017), the cocktail was not only the first post-Prohibition tropical drink to gain national fame, it’s arguably Donn Beach’s most ingenius recipe. Beyond the symphony of juices, syrups and bitters, the rum combo (151 Demerara, dark Jamaican, light Puerto Rican) stands as a testament to the spirit’s ability to morph into a blend that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Berry and Hamilton shared their knowledge to come up with a product that captures this lightning in a bottle. Hamilton Beachbum Berry’s Zombie Blend not only works perfectly in a Zombie, but also in the Jet Pilot, Cobra’s Fang, and other classics. Many mixologists are already inventing new drinks featuring this soon-to-be essential rum. Click below for our preview of the rum’s release, plus more coverage of Beachbum Berry and Hamilton Rum. And if you’re looking for another cocktail to highlight the Zombie blend, check out The Tiki Lover at the end of this blog post.
Video: Dram of the Dead: The Bum on his new Zombie rum
Audio: Ed Hamilton on Inside the Desert Oasis Room
* Previous coverage: 15 things you need to know about Ed Hamilton and Hamilton Rum

Zombie killers: Beachbum Berry and Ed Hamilton join forces on new rum blend
Zombie hunters: Beachbum Berry, Ed Hamilton join forces on rum blend
Two of the spirits and Tiki cocktail world’s most respected figures are putting their names on the label of an exciting new release: Beachbum Berry’s Zombie Blend from Hamilton Rum.

9. SHAGALICIOUS: JOSH AGLE’S ART ERUPTION

Shag's artwork eruption in 2021

The man who rose to international art fame from humble beginnings 25 years ago in the early days of the Tiki revival seems to be fully embracing his role as the torch-bearer of mid-century Tiki art style. In 2021, Josh Agle hit it out of the park with a never-ending flow of original paintings, prints, mugs, aloha shirts, and much more. From his work for some of the top Tiki establishments (Trader Vic’s, Tiki-Ti) to his exclusive releases via the Shag Store in Palm Springs, Calif., the artist known as Shag never failed to top even himself with some of his best work ever. Always a creative force, Shag seemed to be particularly inspired in 2021, and his many fans were certainly appreciative. They snapped up limited-edition mugs and prints in record time. Among our many favorites from the past year:

The massive “Cocktail Country” 16-color silk-screen print in January; the “Mysterious River” print (a Jungle Cruise homage) in March; the Arizona Tiki Oasis official mug plus the “Pau Meli” mug for Max’s South Seas Hideaway in April; “The Teraphim” (Shag’s largest and most complex silk-screen print ever) in May; the “Ray’s Mistake II” print (a sequel to Shag’s 1996 painting of the Tiki-Ti) in August; the Tiki-Ti 60th anniversary mug and aloha shirt in September; the Trader Vic’s aloha shirt (and menu) in October; and “The Most Dangerous Animal” (another official Jungle Cruise print for Disney) in November. December saw the release of Shag Palm Springs, the largest book ever published featuring the artist’s work. It documents Shag’s love affair with his adopted hometown and inspiration for much of his artwork. A free book-signing was one of numerous events he hosted both in Palm Springs and across the country. Be sure to follow Agle’s personal Instagram page for updates on his artwork, plus personal anecdotes and inside information that provide a window into the wonderful world of Shag.

10. THE MODERNIST: SVEN KIRSTEN, TRADER VIC’S JOIN FORCES

Sven Kirsten's The Modernist Mug & Book

A book release by Sven Kirsten, the godfather of the Tiki revival, is always a major event. But in a year like 2021, when any shred of normalcy was celebrated, it was especially important. Add to that an accompanying mug that ties into a fascinating back story involving Trader Vic’s and a mysterious “guardian tiki,” and you have the perfect package of contemporary and historic Tiki. “The Modernist” mug and book were launched Dec. 2 at Trader Vic’s in Emeryville, Calif., with limited editions of the mug also available at two other signing events in Southern California. The mug-book combo quickly sold out on the Trader Vic’s website, followed by its online release via by Tiki Farm.

Look for the 48-page hardbound book and Tiki Farm edition of the mug to be available again in early 2022. Also keep an eye out for two more releases in the “Tiki Portraits” series by Kirsten in association with the venerable restaurant group, under the guidance of Eve Bergeron, granddaughter of Vic himself. The Modernist was a great start in the series, with Kirsten detailing the missing link between the 1920s European avant-garde movement and mid-century modernism. We can’t wait to see what’s next.
Video: Sven Kirsten on Spike’s Breezeway Cocktail Hour

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We toast 2021 much like we remembered 2020, with a potent tropical cocktail inspired by Sven Kirsten and the study of modern Tiki culture. But unlike The Urban Archaeologist, a massive drink served in The Book of Tiki 20th Anniversary Mug, this year’s Tiki tipple is a simple affair … but no less tasty.

The Tiki Lover by The Atomic Grog. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, January 2022)
The Tiki Lover by The Atomic Grog, January 2022. Tiki coupe glasses by Libbey, The Hukilkau 2016 coaster by Shag. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

THE TIKI LOVER
(By Hurricane Hayward / The Atomic Grog)

* 1 ounce fresh lime juice
* 1/2 to 3/4 ounce passion fruit syrup (or fassionola)
* 2 ounces overproof rum (around 110 to 120 proof)
* 2 dashes Bittermens Elemakule Tiki Bitters
* 2 dashes Herbstura

Shake with ice and strain into a small, chilled coupe.

This Daiquiri riff is rich and spicy with a bombastic sweet and strong punch. But it goes down very easy, so beware if you plan on sipping several.

The back story

We came up with this power-packed cocktail as an alternative to a champagne toast and posted the recipe for our social media followers in advance of New Year’s Eve. Note that the original was more compact, featuring 3/4 ounces of lime, 1/4 to 1/2 ounce of syrup, and 1 1/2 ounces of rum. That version is fine, well suited for parties. But after much experimenting with rum combinations, this more potent version emerged. We hope you enjoy its more aggressive combination of sweet, strong and sour flavors.

Substitution & mixing tips

The Tiki Lover features a host of uniquely Tiki ingredients, including a Navy-style overproof rum. But it’s highly adjustable, depending on what ingredients you have in your bar.

* You can easily replace Herbstura (a 50/50 mix of Herbsaint and Angostura bitters) with one dash each of Penod (or absinthe) and Angostura. The cinnamon-allspice kick of Bittermens Elemakule Tiki Bitters (available via Amazon) is the perfect fit to round out this drink, but if necessary you could replace with allspice bitters (or pimento dram).

* Fassionola and passion fruit syrup bring different sweet flavors to the party, so use your personal preference. There are many fine brands of both on the market. Adjust the amount to suit your own tastes. If you use a mild syrup (or stronger rum), more syrup will help keep things in balance.

* We originally created The Tiki Lover using the namesake 114-proof rum sourced from Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, and Trinidad. Tiki Lovers Dark Rum makes for a perfectly balanced cocktail, but you can still get into the Tiki spirit with another dark overproof blend from the Caribbean with around the same ABV. We highly recommend Beachbum Berry’s Zombie Blend from Hamilton Rum (118 proof) and Hamilton Navy Strength (114 proof). The key is using a multi-island blend in the spirit of complex Tiki cocktails. If none of the above is available in your area, we recommed splitting the rum component into two different bottles. For example, we found the drink to be on-point using a 50/50 split of 151 Demerara rum (Hamilton or Lemon Hart) and any good 80 proof Jamaican rum (yielding a 115-proof blend). If Plantation O.F.T.D. is your overproof rum of choice, you could combine that three-island blend with a something in the 90-proof range, such as Hamilton’s Jamaican rums or new Florida Rum Society blend. You can’t go wrong with any of these rums. All work extremely well.

Whatever rum you choose, be sure to fully embrace Tiki culture by checking out Sven Kirsten’s treatise at Tiki-Lovers.com.

Okole maluna!

PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY!

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PAST COVERAGE

Year in the rearview: The Top 9 Tiki stories of 2020
Year in the rearview: The Top 9 Tiki stories of 2020
Not all the news was negative in a year many would rather forget.
Bonus cocktail recipe: The Urban Archaeologist

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