The Hukilau announces 2022 entertainment lineup as tickets go on sale for 19th Tiki weekender in June

The East Coast’s longest running Tiki weekender is back in full force this June, including many familiar faces along with new features and entertainment for villagers to enjoy at the oceanfront Beachcomber Resort in South Florida. Tickets and room reservations are available now for the 19th live edition of The Hukilau, set for June 9-12, 2022.

More info below: Top 5 highlights | Music & entertainment | Symposiums | Guest bars | Special features | Schedule | Tickets & passes | The hotel
Bonus cocktail recipe below: Cobra Defanged by Luau Lads
Previous coverage: The Hukilau returns to June, oceanfront resort

The Hukilau logo by Kevin Kidney

Pompano Beach’s Beachcomber Resort & Club hosted the scaled-down 2021 event, proving to be the perfect venue for a more intimate but mostly outdoor gathering of the Tiki tribe. The entire hotel is once again reserved for The Hukilau’s guests. But with fewer than 150 rooms available, it may fill up fast. Call (954) 941-7830 to reserve your spot at the party now. (Reservations will require proof of an event pass at check-in.)

Additional hotels nearby will be announced soon, so don’t despair if the Beachcomber fills up. But locals and those staying elsewhere should consider snagging event passes now before they start to sell out. Tickets are available at three different price points, from $129 to $569. The top-level South Seas Pass includes access to every party and event, most symposiums, a beachside luau and Sunday brunch, unlimited cocktails and rum tastings, a limited-edition pendant, plus more! More info on tickets and passes below.

The Hukilau 2022 – June 9-12 at the Beachcomber Resort & Club in Pompano Beach. Featuring live music (The Surfrajettes, The Intoxicators, The Manakooras, King Kukulele, et al.), symposiums (Ian Burrell, David Wondrich, Rocket Betty, Spike Marble, Headhunter Ray, et al.), 17 guest bars, rum tastings, luau on the beach, pool parties, Tiki Treasures Bazaar, plus more.
* Official website | Instagram | Facebook page and group

The Beachcomber Resort
The Beachcomber Resort offers perfect views and access to the Atlantic Ocean and expansive beachfront in Pompano Beach, just north of Fort Lauderdale. (Official photo)

While the venue remains small and cozy, the lineup of guests has been expanded for 2022 to include some of the top names in the Tiki, rum and cocktail world. Some old friends are returning after taking a respite during COVID, and new ones are making their first appearance. Below is our take on the most exciting news out the recent announcement, followed by a full rundown on the musical guests, symposium presenters, guest bars, special features, plus the early schedule and info on tickets and passes. You might also want to mix up the Cobra Defanged recipe below (featured at The Hukilau 2021) and enjoy while you get psyched up for 2022.

The Atomic Grog’s Top 5 highlights of The Hukilau 2022

Billed as a “four-day Tiki extravaganza celebrating the history of Polynesian Pop,” The Hukilau has always beefed up that basic premise with lots contemporary artists with a retro-inspired bent. In recent years, the event has also become a top destination for rum and tropical cocktail enthusiasts. A growing roster of bars, bartenders, industry experts and spirits companies flock to “Fort Liquordale” for the festive atmosphere and friendly fans.

In no particular order, here are the some of the unique offerings that we’re looking forward to this year:

The Mai-Kai fans rejoice as new partnership paves way for reopening
The Mai-Kai last hosted an event during The Hukilau 2021 in September, just before the Thornton family announced the sale of the historic property to a new ownership team that will pump at least $5 million into renovations that will restore the restaurant to its vintage glory.
* Past coverage: The Mai-Kai fans rejoice as new partnership paves way for reopening

THE MAI-KAI SNEAK PREVIEW

For those of us eagerly awaiting news on the future of the legendary Polynesian palace in Fort Lauderdale, The Hukilau will give us exclusive insights from the new ownership group. Bill Fuller and his crew from Miami’s Barlington Group and Mad Room Hospitality are scheduled to share the refurbishment plans in an exclusive presentation on Saturday, June 11. The 65-year-old restaurant has been closed since October 2020, when a roof collapse shut down the kitchen and back-of-house operations. Luckily, the stunning decor and dining rooms remain intact, but they’re also due for freshening up. The new owners are partnering with the founding Thornton family to keep The Mai-Kai’s rich legacy alive. Also part of the new crew are longtime managers who are hard at work ramping up the bar to serve The Mai-Kai’s famous cocktails for the first time since The Hukilau 2021 in September. Look for a pop-up bar featuring select signature drinks throughout the weekend.

DAVID WONDRICH JOINS THE PARTY

David Wondrich (left) and Jeff "Beachbum" Berry presented "Sailor’s Joy: 400 Years of Drinking on the High Seas" at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in 2017
David Wondrich (left) and Jeff “Beachbum” Berry presented “Sailor’s Joy: 400 Years of Drinking on the High Seas” at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in 2017. (Photo from the Cocktail Wonk blog, courtesy of Matt Pietrek)

For more than 20 years, this James Beard Award winning author, cocktail historian, mixologist and educator has documented the craft cocktail movement while also becoming one of the world’s foremost authorities on drinks history. The former English professor gained national exposure as Esquire Magazine‘s drinks correspondent, along with his four acclaimed books: Esquire Drinks, Killer Cocktails, Imbibe! and Punch. His most recent gig was senior drinks columnist at The Daily Beast and co-host of the Life Behind Bars podcast. His latest achievement is serving as editor of The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails, an 860-page opus that serves as the first major reference work on the subject. Wondrich is a frequent guest lecturer and regular seminar host at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. It will be an honor to see the Brooklyn, N.Y., resident make his first appearance at The Hukilau in 2022.
* Follow Wondrich on Twitter

THE RUM AMBASSADOR RETURNS

Ian Burrell is back for his fifth appearance at The Hukilau, teaching an Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy class and hosting one of his signature “$1,000 Rum Tasting” events. The self-appointed global rum ambassador, Burrell is a charismatic spokesman for the spirit, entertaining host, and all-around fun guy to hang out with. Which makes him the perfect fit for The Hukilau. He previously treated villagers to similar premium rum tastings in 2018 and 2019, offering attendees samples of four to six rums that sell at retail for a combined value in excess of $1,000.
* Related: Take 5 with Ian Burrell | More blogs featuring Ian Burrell

THE SURFRAJETTES HEADLINE STRONG MUSICAL LINEUP

The Surfrajettes make their debut at The Hukilau in 2017, headlining the Friday night High Tide Party at Pier Sixty-Six Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. (Photo by Hukilau Mike)
The Surfrajettes make their debut at The Hukilau in 2017, headlining the Friday night High Tide Party at Pier Sixty-Six Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. (Photo by Hukilau Mike)

Surf music fans are in for a treat as The Hukilau welcomes back The Surfrajettes, the all-female instrumental combo from Canada that has been building an ever-increasing underground following and online fanbase since making their first and only appearance at the event in 2017. The foursome’s long-awaited debut album, Roller Fink, is due out April 22 on Hi-Tide Recordings. Veteran instro surf rockers The Intoxicators will once again make the trek from Tallahassee to knock our socks off for the 16th time. (If we’re lucky, we may also see an appearance of the band’s alter ego, The Disasternauts.) Also appearing is Southern supergroup The Manakooras, featuring members of Satan’s Pilgrims, Aqualads and The Intoxicators. The band boasts a unique blend of surf music with steel guitar, ukulele and exotica-influenced percussion. Last but not least, longtime emcee King Kukulele is back where he belongs after missing The Hukilau 2021. The Southern California musician, comedian and entertainer has been a fixture at Tiki events across the country over the past two decades, including every previous Hukilau through 2019. His humor, ad libs and easy-going style are a much-needed addition.
* Full list of performers below

17 TOP TIKI BARS ON TAP

Where else can you sample world-class cocktails from Paris, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Chicago all in one place? At The Hukilau, of course, where Dirty Dick, Tonga Hut, Hidden Harbor, and Three Dots and a Dash are among the amazing number of guest bars scheduled to pop during the four-day event. Each will offer several signature and/or classic Tiki cocktails, mixed and served by the owners, managers and bartenders from these high-profile establishments. New for 2022: Look for smaller samples to keep waste to a minimum. And this all comes at no additional cost beyond your event pass, a deal that’s hard to beat.
NEW: See the full list of bars below

The Hukilau returns to June, oceanfront Beachcomber Resort near Fort Lauderdale
Previous coverage
The Hukilau returns to June, oceanfront resort near Fort Lauderdale
The East Coast’s longest-running Tiki weekender is back at the cozy Beachcomber Resort & Club on the ocean in Pompano Beach for its 19th live event on June 9-12.

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THE HUKILAU 2022 AT A GLANCE

Below is a rundown of everything we know so far. Much more will be announced in the coming weeks. Sign up for email updates at TheHukilau.com and follow the social media links above. We’ll also cover the major updates here on the blog, plus our social channels. We’re also happy to once again be posting updates on Tiki Central, the influential message board that was instrumental in the creation of The Hukilau 20 years ago. After two years of downtime for extensive renovations, it’s back up and running just in time.

MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT

The Intoxicators kick out the jams from a balcony stage at The Hukilau 2021. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
The Intoxicators kick out the jams from a balcony stage at The Hukilau 2021. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Look for bands and musicians performing day and night during the pool parties and other events at the Beachcomber. Those confirmed so far include:

The Surfrajettes (Toronto) – Fresh off a high-profile cruise with The Beach Boys, these underground instrumental surf sensations are making inroads toward broader success and appreciation. If you miss them at The Hukilau, be sure to catch them on their upcoming U.S. tour.

The Intoxicators (Tallahassee) – This hard-hitting instrumental foursome can create a racket, but their extremely tight and accomplished musicianship, memorable tunes and unbridled enthusiasm for The Hukilau create a comforting experience year after year. Check out their catalog of past releases.

The Manakooras (Charlotte, N.C.) – Don’t miss The Hukilau debut of this eclectic group that puts a new yet familiar spin on surf and exotica. A new 12-song album, Jungle of Steel, is available for pre-order from Hi-Tide Recordings.

Skinny Jimmy Stingray performs with his band at The Hukilau 2021 after-party at Death or Glory in Delray Beach. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Skinny Jimmy Stingray performs with his band at The Hukilau 2021 after-party at Death or Glory in Delray Beach. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

King Kukulele (Southern California) – With his ever-present straw hat, Hawaiian shirt, grass skirt and lei, King Kukulele is one of the most recognizable and beloved figures on the Tiki scene over the past two decades. The alter ego of comedian, actor and ukuleleist Denny Moynahan is the ultimate master of ceremonies with his signature hapa haole and novelty songs spicing up every intro and segue.

Skinny Jimmy Stingray (Deerfield Beach) – A fixture at The Hukilau since 2013 and the South Florida surf and rockabilly scene since 2009, this guitar slinger brings his own retro style to instrumental rock. His three-piece band covers a wide range of classics in addition to distinctive original tunes.

Between bands, villagers will be entertained by DJs such as Hi-Tide Recordings owners Vincent Minervino and Magdalena O’Connell, who always bring a great depth of knowledge (and tons of vinyl) to their sets.

Full entertainment lineup coming soon.

SYMPOSIUMS

Four very special classes and presentations are on the early schedule, with more expected to be added soon.

Ian Burrell serves up a selection of his favorite sips in the $1,000 Rum Tasting at The Hukilau 2018. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Ian Burrell serves up a selection of his favorite sips in the $1,000 Rum Tasting at The Hukilau 2018. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

$1,000 Rum Tasting with Ian Burrell – The global rum ambassador brings back his popular event that has sold out during past years at The Hukilau. In 2018 and 2019, Burrell gave villagers an exclusive sampling of four to six rums with a combined value of $1,000, a rare opportunity to enjoy some of the world’s tastiest cane spirits in one sitting. Tickets are $49 for all passholders.

Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy classes with Ian Burrell and David Wondrich – The Hukilau’s special spirits industry guests will each teach an advanced-level masterclass on cocktails and mixology. These are the latest in a series of classes that began in 2017, covering everything from the Daiquiri to the Zombie. Tickets are $49 for all passholders.

The Mai-Kai Presentation and Meet-and-Greet – The new ownership group will give The Hukilau’s guests an inside look at the progress of the renovations that will restore the historic restaurant to its former glory, and beyond. Open to Aloha and South Seas passholders.

Expect to see more symposiums announced soon, all free with the two top-level passes. Among those who have signed on as presenters are musician and YouTuber Spike Marble (The Hula Girls and Spike’s Breezeway Cocktail Hour), fashion artist Margo Scott (Rocket Betty Designs), decor designer Head Hunter Ray, and community organizer Jeff Ballard (The Tiki Trail and Tiki Trail Live). Full lineup coming soon.

EXCLUSIVE: GUEST BARS

The Hukilau ramped up its focus on the exploding rum and cocktail scene during five years at the Pier 66 hotel (2015-2019), including the signature Tiki Tower Takeover event featuring some of the world’s most acclaimed mixologists and tropical drink bars. That emphasis continued last year at the Beachcomber, though muted slightly by the pandemic.

Pagan Idol's Doc Parks (left) photo-bombs the Three Dots and a Dash crew (Aiden Dillon, Cory Starr and Kevin Beary) during the Tiki Tower Takeover at The Hukilau 2018. We hope to see most of these gents back in 2022. Beary remains beverage director at Three Dots, while Star now leads the bar program at Tiki Tatsu-Ya and Parks is general manager of Wilfred's Lounge. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Pagan Idol’s Doc Parks (left) photo-bombs the Three Dots and a Dash crew (Aiden Dillon, Cory Starr and Kevin Beary) during the Tiki Tower Takeover at The Hukilau 2018. We hope to see most of these gents back in 2022. Beary remains beverage director at Three Dots, while Star now leads the bar program at Tiki Tatsu-Ya and Parks is general manager of Wilfred’s Lounge. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Now, with restrictions eased and more bars able to attend events, look for another full-blown Tiki cocktail extravaganza. No less than 17 bar teams will be on hand, traveling from near and far to ply villagers with free drinks, from vintage classics to their own signature libations. Available here first is a list of the participating bars for 2022:

Dirty Dick (Paris)
Esotico Miami
The Honu (Dunedin, Fla.)
Hidden Harbor (Pittsburgh)
The Inferno Room (Indianapolis)
Luau Lads (Jacksonville, Fla.)
The Mai-Kai (Fort Lauderdale)
Royal Palms (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Sabai / The Jungle Room (Richmond, Va.)
The S.O.S. Tiki Bar (Decatur, Ga.)
Three Dots and a Dash (Chicago)
Tiki Tiki Bang Bang (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Tiki Tatsu-Ya (Austin, Texas)
Tiki Underground (Akron, Ohio)
Tonga Hut (Los Angeles)
VenTiki (Ventura, Calif.)
Wilfred’s Lounge (Napa, Calif.)

This outstanding lineup includes many old favorites, such as Tiki Tower Takeover veterans Dirty Dick, Esotico, Hidden Harbor, Three Dots and a Dash, and Tonga Hut. It’s also great to see the return of The Honu, The Inferno Room, Luau Lads, The S.O.S., Tiki Underground, and The Mai-Kai. The icing on the cake is the addition of new bars many of us will get to try for the first time: Royal Palms, Sabai, Tiki Tiki Bang Bang, Tiki Tatsu-Ya, VenTiki, and Wilfred’s Lounge.

Look future updates and previews of the bars, bartenders and cocktails.

SPECIAL FEATURES

The staff at the Beachcomber prepares a kalua pig for the luau at The Hukilau 2021 in September. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
The staff at the Beachcomber prepares a kalua pig for the luau at The Hukilau 2021 in September. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Pool and bungalow parties – Happening day and night Thursday through Saturday, these are the main social events during The Hukilau. They’re open to all villagers (with a few limitations for the Palm Pass) and include all of the musical guests and mixologists displaying their talents. Soak in the atmosphere, along with outstanding cocktails and music, while relaxing and socializing with fellow villagers.

Luau on the beach – Featuring a full buffet catered by the Beachcomber culinary staff and complimentary cocktails by guest mixologists, this traditional Polynesian-style event will take place on the hotel’s picturesque beachfront Friday night. Last year, a traditional kalua pig was cooked in a pit under the sand. The luau is free for South Seas passholders and can be added on to the other passes.

Tiki Treasures Bazaar – One of The Hukilau’s largest groups of vendors will be selling vintage collectibles, curated art, Tiki mugs, clothing and more during the marketplace on Saturday afternoon. The full roster will be announced soon. Free to all passholders.

Tiki brunch – Bid farewell to your fellow villagers on Sunday morning with a robust meal and a final taste of those delicious cocktails. Free for South Seas passholders, à la carte for others.

TICKETS & PASSES

Artist John Mulder of Eekum Bookum (left), creator of many mugs for The Hukilau, joins organizer Richard Oneslager for cocktails during the pool party at the 2021 event at the Beachcomber. They're joined by John Gelardi and Kern Mattei from The Mai-Kai, plus Claudia Marmolejo from the Beachcomber, formerly of The Mai-Kai. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Artist John Mulder of Eekum Bookum (left), creator of many mugs for The Hukilau, joins organizer Richard Oneslager for cocktails during the pool party at the 2021 event at the Beachcomber. They’re joined by John Gelardi and Kern Mattei from The Mai-Kai, plus Claudia Marmolejo from the Beachcomber, formerly of The Mai-Kai. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Villagers have a choice of three different passes for The Hukilau in 2022, much like 2021. One change is a lower priced entry-level tier, the new Palm Pass. The Aloha and South Seas passes remain as the two more-inclusive passes, giving guests a range of choices. All passes also allow the addition of some à la carte events, though the top-tier South Seas Pass includes most everything. Keep in mind that complimentary cocktails from some of the world’s top Tiki bartenders are included in the price, as well as many symposiums.

Here’s a breakdown of the passes and events that come with an additional cost:

Palm Pass ($129): Ideal for locals or those looking to dip their toes into The Hukilau. This entry-level pass includes admission to Saturday’s Rum Island Pool Party and Tiki Treasures Bazaar, plus the evening bungalow parties. Both feature complimentary cocktails from many of the 17 guest bars, along with bands and other live entertainment. Passholders also get a “rum-tasting pass” that gives them access to sponsors offering samples from distilleries around the world. Available ad-ons include Ian Burrell’s $1,000 Rum Tasting and Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy class ($49 each), David Wondrich’s cocktail class ($49), and Friday’s beachside luau ($139, includes buffet and cocktails). You could also add the Sunday Tiki Brunch for $59. Not included in this pass are Thursday’s kickoff party, Friday’s pool party or any of the symposiums, including The Mai-Kai presentation and meet-and-greet.

The Hukilau artwork above and below by Mitch O'Connell.
The Hukilau artwork above and below by Mitch O’Connell.

Aloha Pass ($329): This mid-level pass includes Thursday’s kickoff party, the Friday and Saturday pool parties, plus bungalow parties all three nights. Aloha passholders also get access to all the rum tastings, the Tiki Treasures Bazaar, and free symposiums (including The Mai-Kai presentation) on a space-available basis. The Ian Burrell and David Wondrich events can be added for $49 each, along with à la carte tickets to Friday’s luau ($129) and Sunday’s brunch ($49).

South Seas Pass ($569): These top-tier passes include the Friday luau and Sunday brunch along with all of the same benefits of the Aloha Pass. Among the other perks: Guaranteed seating at symposiums, early access to Saturday’s bazaar, and guaranteed seating at The Mai-Kai meet-and-greet. Passholders also get exclusive access to the South Seas Lounge (featuring “light bites and premium rums”) plus a limited-edition Hukilau 2022 pendant designed by Tiki Diablo. The only events not included are the Burrell and Wondrich classes ($49 each).

CLICK HERE to order tickets and passes now!

The Hukilau 2022

THE SCHEDULE

THURSDAY: Welcome reception and bungalow parties.

FRIDAY: Pool party, pop-up bars, live music, symposiums and classes, beach luau buffet and cocktails, bungalow parties, plus more.

SATURDAY: Tiki Treasures Bazaar, pool party, live music, rum tastings with Ian Burrell, presentation on The Mai-Kai, plus more.

SUNDAY: Tiki Brunch.

Look for the full schedule coming soon.

THE HOTEL

It’s possible to conjure up a fantasy world of island breezes, wide sandy beaches, and lazy days sipping cocktails with your feet in the sand. The Hukilau can actually deliver on that dream with a host hotel that sits directly on the Atlantic Ocean in balmy Pompano Beach, just north of Fort Lauderdale’s famous strip but a world away from the constant hubbub of the modern world.

The resort's oceanfront location features many comfy seating areas near the beach, but still close to all the activities. (Beachcomber photo)
The resort’s oceanfront location features many comfy seating areas near the beach, but still close to all the activities. (Beachcomber photo)

Beachcomber Resort & Club is an intimate, family-owned destination with 140 rooms, two pools and a private beach. The Hukilau has reserved the entire space for the event, ensuring a totally immersive experience in the Tiki lifestyle for the weekend. It’s the prefect opportunity to relax and connect with friends, old and new.

No generic convention spaces or conference rooms to be found, the boutique hotel offers quaint bungalows for sponsor parties, outdoor Tiki huts for symposiums, plus an indoor restaurant for chilling out. Cocktails won’t be hard to find with special guest Tiki bars popping up everywhere, from the large pools to the vast beachside courtyards. Surf and exotica music will fill the air as live bands plug in and perform poolside.

The rooms offer sweeping views from several adjacent buildings, the tallest being just nine stories. In addition to standard rooms, the Beachcomber offers suites, villas and a ninth-floor penthouse. There are also apartments across A1A that will be used mainly by staff and participants.

Other amenities include the Deep seafood restaurant and bar, plus a beachside bar with those same great ocean views. Lobby shopping includes sundries, snacks and gifts. And when The Mai-Kai reopens, it’s just a 15-minute drive to the southwest across the causeway.

A peek at one of the Beachcomber's two-bedroom villas in a hotel promo photo.
A peek at one of the Beachcomber’s two-bedroom villas in a hotel promo photo.

The Beachcomber will not be accepting online reservations. You must call (954) 941-7830 to reserve your room for The Hukilau. Book now, then pick up your required event pass to complete your reservation for weekend in paradise.

The Hukilau has been hosted by an oceanfront hotel before (most notably the vintage “Yankee Clipper,” home of The Wreck Bar and Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid), but the Beachcomber is easily the most intimate and inviting.

Pre-COVID, The Hukilau had been headquartered at the sprawling Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina with its iconic 17-story, mid-century modern tower. That entire site, located west of the Intracoastal Waterway near Port Everglades and the Yankee Clipper, is undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation that will surround the 57-year-old tower with an all-new resort. Plans were recently revealed by the site developer that add three new luxury high-rise condo towers to the property.

The cozy Beachcomber is a much more modest and traditional beachside resort, oozing natural Florida charm. The closest comparison is the Bahia Cabana, which hosted The Hukilau a record seven times from its location just across A1A for the Yankee Clipper (now known as the B Ocean Resort). The event took over the entire Cabana, which offered an all-inclusive party atmosphere but lacked the amenities and oceanfront location of the Beachcomber. The Hukilau’s newest host hotel arguably offers the best elements of these past favorites.

The Hukilau 2018

The Hukilau host hotels in South Florida
2022 – Beachcomber Resort & Club
2021 – Beachcomber Resort & Club
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 HUKILAU HISTORY

A traditional hukilau, invented by ancient Hawaiians, is a gathering of family and friends for a giant festival of fishing. The group works together in casting a giant net lined with leaves from the shore, then pulling it back. The word comes from huki, meaning pull, and lau, meaning leaves. Anybody who helped could share in the catch. The feast that followed celebrated the spirit of ‘ohana, or family and community.

Hukilau became synonymous with any festive beach gathering, inspiring the traditional dance and song covered in the mid-20th century by artists including Alfred Apaka, Don Ho, Ray Conniff, and Annette Funicello. Inspired by the Tiki revival of the late 20th century, Tiki enthusiasts Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White and Tim “Swanky” Glazner launched The Hukilau weekender in 2002 in Atlanta as a modern version of the traditional gathering to attract lovers of Tiki culture from all over the world for a unique, vintage-styled celebration.

King Kukulele performs at The Hukilau in 2003 (with Italy's I Belli Di Waikiki during the first year at The Mai-Kai) and in 2019 during the Saturday night party at The Mai-Kai. (Photos courtesy of Tim "Swanky" Glazner and Julie St)
King Kukulele performs at The Hukilau in 2003 (with Italy’s I Belli Di Waikiki during the first year at The Mai-Kai) and in 2019 during the Saturday night party at The Mai-Kai. (Photos courtesy of Tim “Swanky” Glazner and Julie St)

Over the years, The Hukilau has hosted nearly every major figure in the Tiki revival, from bands to bartenders to authors to historians. The early years also included some distinguished pioneers. The Hukilau was also the first Tiki event to feature educational symposiums. Among the many notable past participants were Billy Mure, Yma Sumac, Robert Drasnin, Waitiki, Sven Kirsten, Shag, Bosko, Wayne Coombs, Bamboo Ben, Tiki Diablo, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Ian Burrell, Martin Cate, Brother Cleve, King Kukulele, Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, Dawn Wells, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, The Intoxicators, The Disasternauts, The Tikiyaki Orchestra, Ìxtahuele, Los Straitjackets, The Martian Denny Orchestra, Left Arm of Buddha, Sweet Hollywaiians, The Hula Girls, Alika Lyman, Surfer Joe, The Surfrajettes, and many more.

The event moved to Fort Lauderdale and The Mai-Kai in 2003, where it has remained. Glazner bowed out after 2004 and went on to write Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant along with an upcoming Don the Beachcomber biography. White guided the event with TLC for another decade, building it into one of the elite Tiki weekenders before selling a controlling interest to a partnership led by entrepreneur Richard Oneslager in 2015. White stepped down as producer and organizer after the 2016 event.

Oneslager, who is also an outside investor in The Mai-Kai’s refurbishment, has led The Hukilau through the recent turbulent waters with a small but dedicated crew. The coronavirus pandemic and closing of The Mai-Kai have added additional hurdles, but the event found its footing last year at the Beachcomber and stands poised for a bright future. The Hukilau remains dedicated to providing its villagers with a unique and immersive experience, with an equal emphasis on Tiki’s past, present and future.

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Kurt Rogers of Luau Lads serves up the Cobra Defanged cocktail at The Hukilau in September 2021 at the Beachcomber Resort & Club in Pompano Beach. (Photos by Hurricane Hayward)
Kurt Rogers of Luau Lads serves up the Cobra Defanged cocktail at The Hukilau in September 2021 at the Beachcomber Resort & Club in Pompano Beach. (Photos by Hurricane Hayward)

One of our favorite sips from The Hukilau 2021 at the Beachcomber Resort was a riff on Don the Beachcomber’s classic Cobra’s Fang by the Jacksonville bartending duo known as Luau Lads. It immediately brought back fond memories of the Cobra’s Kiss from The Mai-Kai, which also eschews the 151 rum in favor of a more balanced and approachable blend of ingredients.

Mahalo to Kurt Rogers and Michael Bloom for this simple but very effective tribute recipe. We hope the interpretation below does this delicious drink justice. And we look forward to seeing the Lads again at The Hukilau 2022.

Cobra Defanged by The Atomic Grog, March 2022. The Hukilau 2019 glass by Bai. Beachbum Berry cocktail pick from Cocktail Kingdom. Reusable glass straw from Surfside Sips. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Cobra Defanged by The Atomic Grog, March 2022. The Hukilau 2019 glass by Bai. Beachbum Berry cocktail pick from Cocktail Kingdom. Reusable glass straw from Surfside Sips. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

COBRA DEFANGED
As served by Luau Lads at The Hukilau 2021
(Interpreted by Hurricane Hayward, The Atomic Grog)

* 1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
* 3/4 ounce fresh orange juice
* 1/2 ounce passion fruit syrup
* 1/2 ounce falernum
* 2 ounces blended dark rum ***
* 2 dashes Angostura bitters
* 3-4 drops Pernod

Pulse blend in a top-down mixer with 1 cup of crushed ice for 6-8 seconds. Pour unstrained into your favorite Tiki glass and garnish with a speared cherry, mint and a cinnamon stick.

Tasting notes

While I’m typically not a fan of lighter versions of potent classics (like the Zombie), this is definitely not a dumbed-down drink for the masses. It’s a great take on an underrated classic, reminiscent of the Cobra’s Kiss as noted above. It’s been a year and a half since we’ve been able to taste this Mai-Kai staple, so the Luau Lads delivered exactly what we needed.

Cobra Defanged is distinguished by the sharp notes of anise and bitters, which play off the rum and tart juices to great effect. All the flavors pop, creating a sweet and spicy cocktail experience that’s sure to please fans of classic Tiki cocktails. It’s also a great intro drink for newbies.

*** Rum suggestions: Plantation Original Dark, a blend of rums from Jamaica and Barbados, was featured in Cobra Defanged as a sponsor of The Hukilau. This is a fine choice, but feel free to experiment with other blended dark rums from the Caribbean. We went with a delicious blend of 1 ounce of Coruba from Jamaica and 1 ounce of Hamilton 86 from Guyana.

Okole maluna!

PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY!

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The Hukilau 2021 recap

The Hukilau 2021 updates: Daily schedule and photos
The Hukilau 2021: Daily recap, photos and video
The Hukilau returned to the picturesque Fort Lauderdale area oceanfront for an 18th time Sept. 16-19 for four days of Polynesian Pop paradise in America’s vacationland.

A new Zombie becomes final challenge for The Hukilau villagers
Zombie party is final challenge for The Hukilau villagers
The Hukilau finale featured live surf music and deadly cocktails at the “Hereafter Party at Death or Gory in Hellray Beach.”

The Hukilau: Past coverage

Photos: 10 highlights from The Hukilau 2019 in Fort Lauderdale
Photos: 10 highlights from The Hukilau 2019 in Fort Lauderdale
* 2019: Photos and video from social media
* 2018 social media recap | More highlights
* 2017 daily recaps, news, photos and video | More highlights
* More recaps: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2002-2008

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More on The Atomic Grog

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.

The Tiki Times online events calendar
UPDATES: The Tiki Times: Exclusive 2022 events guide
Check the calendar for the latest upcoming live and virtual events.

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.

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