The dead of winter in Atlanta is not typically what you envision when you try to picture a Tiki paradise. Defying the “Hotlanta” nickname, average temperatures for January hover in the mid-30s to mid-50s.
But Inuhele has quickly changed that notion, making the city a must-do destination for Tikiphiles as the year’s first major event on the calendar.
Inuhele: Atlanta’s Tiki Weekend has grown from a modest home bar tour in 2018 into an action-packed, three-day event featuring an authentic luau, live music, a vendor marketplace, and an expansive lineup of symposiums. Guests will be treated to all this and more next week when Inuhele returns to the Atlanta Sheraton Downtown for a fourth Tiki weekender Jan. 20-22.
Quick links: Tickets | Schedule
Jump below: Guests and presenters | Live music | Craft classes | Vendors | Sponsors | Event history
Just make sure to grab your event passes before it’s too late. Only 50 tickets remained as of Saturday, all on the “standard” tier( $125). The entry-level pass gains you entry to the vendor hall, admission to panels all weekend, access to all the live entertainment and shows, plus more.
Tickets to the Saturday night luau can be purchased separately for $100, but only 27 remained Saturday, according to an Instagram post. The buffet dinner and show will feature Mahealani’s Polynesian Entertainment, plus music by Kinky Waikiki. Holders of the sold-out “deluxe” passes also need to pay for the luau separately. The top-tier “VIP” passes, which include the luau, are also sold out.
Perks for deluxe and VIP passholders also include early access, a Mai Tai glass and event mug, VIP swag bag, private hospitality suite, and more.
The annual home bar tour was held in June, allowing the winter event to concentrate on its signature panels featuring experts from across the Tiki community. Past participants have included such heavyweight guests as the late Brother Cleve, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Sven Kirsten, Danny “Tiki Diablo” Galliardo, and Tim “Swanky” Glazner.
The Atomic Grog is honored to be participating in 2023, joining a stellar lineup of guests and presenters. Join us Friday for “Okole maluna! The Return of The Mai-Kai,” a multimedia presentation featuring the latest news and inside info on the restoration and renovations at the historic Fort Lauderdale restaurant.
I’ll bring you an insider’s view of the massive undertaking of restoring Tiki history at The Mai-Kai. Over the past three years, The Atomic Grog has been the most reliable source of information on the landmark Tiki temple’s closing, sale and upcoming revival.
Blog updates take you inside the hallowed halls with news, photos, and exclusive insights you can’t get anywhere else. The presentation will take place from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., helping kick off the first day’s activities.
Below are links to some of our past coverage to get you warmed up for Inuhele. I hope to see you there!
NEW: Historic preservation board approves The Mai-Kai’s renovation plans, clearing way for project to move forward
* The Mai-Kai turns 66 as work progresses on multiple renovation projects
* The Mai-Kai’s new owner reveals renovation plans during The Hukilau
* The Mai-Kai’s renovation plans include reimagined entryway, new event space
* The Mai-Kai fans rejoice as new partnership paves way for reopening
More on The Atomic Grog
* Okole Maluna Society: The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide
* The Tiki Times: Exclusive 2023 events guide
INUHELE 2023 LINEUP
Note: This is not a complete list and is subject to change. Please check the official schedule or the event check-in desk for the most accurate info.
Guests, seminars, panels and classes
Among those scheduled to join us at Inuhele 2023:
Big Toe – The Southern California lowbrow artist known for his tongue-in-cheek humor and playful eroticism will discuss “From Painting to Mugs: Stories Behind the Artifacts” on Saturday at 10 a.m.
John Brueggen – The director of the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park will present “Crocodile Art of Melanesia: What do Saltwater Crocodiles and Melanesian art have in common?” on Saturday at 10:30 a.m.
Dawn Mahealani Douglas – The owner of Mahealani’s Polynesian Entertainment will share her experience as a Polynesian dancer trained in Oahu in a workshop on her native art on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
Tim Harnett – The bartender and cocktail educator from Ohio’s Tiki Underground will discuss “Gin in Tiki” on Friday at 4 p.m.
Sveinn Kjartasson – A photojournalist published in more than 50 magazines, the Icelantic native will share his experience shooting some of the world’s top Tiki bars on Friday at 6 p.m. He’ll also discuss his model/client work in “How to Tell a Story on Film” on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
Rodney Ray – The concept designer, creative director and primary fabricator for HeadHunter Props and Fabrication will discuss “Tiki Bar Aesthetics Through Visual Storytelling” on Saturday at noon.
Paul Senft – The freelance writer and reviewer known for his expertise in the world of cane spirits will present rum symposiums throughout the weekend.
Margo Scott – The creative force behind Rocket Betty Designs will teach guests how to wear traditional South Pacific garments such as a lavalava, pareo, and sarong on Friday at 4:30 p.m. She’ll also discuss “Aloha Wear 101” on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.
Tiki Tom Tom – The author of an upcoming book documenting his travels to 75 home Tiki bars will discuss “Navigating a Home Tiki Bar Build” on Friday at 3 p.m. He’ll also host the interactive workshop “Tell Your Story: Tiki Bar Themes” on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
VanTiki – Former Hollywood artists Henrik and Denise Van Ryzin, who channel their creativity into a plethora of one-of-a-kind mugs at their Oregon studio, will share mug-making secrets in “The Spectacular Story of Slip” on Friday at 7 p.m. Pick up their merchandise at a meet-and-greet on Friday at 8:30 p.m.
H.C. Warner – This Atlanta-based artist with a vast array of talents, from painting to sculpture and beyond, will unveil the history of a mysterious 2006 Tiki-themed art installation in Atlanta on Saturday at 10 a.m.
* Inuhele.com: More on the guests and presenters
Look for additional presentions on the official schedule, including the story of the ukulele (Friday 4 p.m. ), discussion of rockabilly legend Stan Beaver (Friday 5:30 p.m.), tips on building a big Tiki bar in a small space (Friday 5:30 p.m.), a guide to Tiki thrifting (Friday 7 p.m.), pop artist stories (Friday 7:30 p.m.), an exploration of Polynesian tattoos (Sunday 10 a.m.), tips on attending Tiki weekenders across the country (Saturday 4:30 p.m.), and a preview of the upcoming book on the mysterious cocktail ingredient Fassionola (Sunday 11:30 a.m.).
* More info on the panels: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3
Live bands and entertainment
R_Garcia (Friday 9 p.m.) – An influential Atlanta-based modern electronic composer, producer and multi-instrumental performer known for his punk rock ethic.
The Joel Beaver Band (Friday 10 p.m.) – An instrumentalist and singer/songwriter from Cleveland, Tenn.
The Fridigidaires (Friday 11:30 p.m.) – A surf/hot rod combo from Atlanta, performing vocal and instrumental hits.
Kinki Waikiki (Saturday 5:30 p.m. at the luau) – A Georgia trio that plays retro Hawaiian steel guitar cocktail music spiced with exotic lounge and surf.
The Creature Preachers (Saturday 9:30 p.m.) – Creepy surf rock from the Georgia swamps.
The Rumtones (Saturday 10:30 p.m.) – An instrumental three-piece from Savannah, Ga.
The Mystery Men? (Saturday 11:30 p.m.) – Eclectic instrumental surf band from Atlanta that combines elements of spy, Spaghetti Western, metal and more into a distinctive sound.
Tipsy Crafting classes
Inuhele offers an array of opportunities for guests to get hands-on instruction from experts in a small setting. Pre-registration is required for some classes, with prices ranging from $5 to $25.
* Tie a Fish Float Necklace (Friday 5:30 p.m.) and Create a Tapa Print Pillowcase (Saturday 3:30 p.m.) with Nick Picard and Jason Bush, proprietors of the Atlanta home bar Voodoo Outpost & the Atomic Flamingo Hotel and Casino.
* Fab Hair Flowers and Head Fauna Drop-In (Friday 7:30 p.m.) teaches you how make floral hair pieces.
* Hands on Garnish Class (Saturday 1 p.m.) with Cocktail Uncultured will discuss/display several garnishes and ways to prep them at home.
* Make an Orchid Lei (Saturday 10 a.m.) with Brianna of Sew and Quirky.
* Weave a Palm Frond Hat (Friday 3-5 p.m.) with Tom Fowner, a South Florida artist who will also be particating in the vendor marketplace.
* Inuhele.com: More on the Tipsy Crafting classes
Merchants will be selling their wares on Friday (12:30 a.m.-7 p.m.), Saturday (10 a.m.-5 p.m.), and Sunday (10 a.m.-12:30 p.m., general public welcome). Look for artists and vendors from around the world selling their wares, including many of those mentioned elsewhere in this story, plus:
* Alcove Fine Art & Design
* Aloha, Art, and Alligators
* Always Pretty with Kimber
* Todd Ashbaugh
* Kymm! Bang
* Basement Kahuna
* Black Lagoon Room
* Brand Camp
* Devi & Co.
* Eekum Bookum
* Mike Folmer
* House of Modern Antiquities
* Lake Tiki Woodcrafts
* Nancy’s Fancy Fruits
* Old Rags Inc.
* Rarabird Art and PrimitivaDiva
* RetroTiki Designs
* Sew Cute and Quirky
* Jim Stacy’s Woodland Giant Shipworks
* Sweet Siren Designs
* Tavi’s Taonga
* Tropikvlt Apparel
* Uke Republic
* Volcano Designs
* Derek Yaniger
Sponsors and other participants
The Bamboo Room – A Tiki bar and tropical escape in historic Savannah, Ga.
BG Reynolds – Makers of quality cocktail syrups for professionals and home bars.
Chairman’s Reserve Rum – A well-regarded brand from St. Lucia, created at St. Lucia Distillers.
Hightower Creek Vinyards – A family winery in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
Mark Hooper – An enthusiastic Tikiphile, bartender and emcee from Litle Rock, Ark.
Horror in Clay – Horror-themed Tiki mugs, barware, and accessories designed by Jonathan M. Chaffin, founder of Inuhele.
Kirin Ichiban – Japan’s iconic beer company, which dates back to the late 1800s.
Kona Brewing Company – Hawaiin craft brewery, founded in 1994.
Kon-Tigo Tiki Bar – Producers of the throwback Chinese Lantern Pick for Tiki cocktails.
Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company – Producers of handcrafted, small-batch juices.
Parrot Productions – Educational and entertainment bird shows.
Rocket Betty Designs – A North Carolina-based designer and clothing line.
Rhum Clément and Rhum JM – Two iconic brands from Martinique, where rhum agricole is crafted to exacting standards.
The Sorrow Drowner – A new immersive adventure bar with a Vaudeville twist in Wilmington, N.C., designed by former Disney Imagineer “Trader Brandon” Kleyla, known for his work on Trader Sam’s at Disneyland and Disney World.
The St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park – One of Florida’s oldest continuously running attractions (est. 1893).
Tiki Underground – A northeast Ohio bar and lounge founded by Sean and Jessie Coffey, recently relocated to a new location in Cuyahoga Falls. The designer of the new space, Doktor Bill Lynn, will present a symposium on his work on Saturday at 1 p.m. Sean Coffey will also host a panel on creating cocktails (Saturday 3 p.m.) and discuss how he advanced from home bar enthusiast to the professional world.
TipTop Proper Cocktails – Balanced, easy-to-serve classic cocktails.
Trader Vic’s – The worldwide Polynesian restaurant chain, which includes a historic location in Atlanta.
Uke Republic – One of the foremost exclusive ukulele dealers.
* More on the sponsors: Page 1 | Page 2
Inuhele is truly a family affair, organized since 2018 by the husband-and-wife team of Jonathan and Allison Chaffin, their kin, and their friends as a passion project to support the Tiki community and provide an outlet in the Southeast for the many artists, musicians, and crafts people to display thir talents.
The couple, also the creators of the macabre-themed Horror in Clay mug company, organized their first Atlanta Tiki home bar tour, named Inuhele (for “cocktail journey”), in 2018. It was a modest event, but interest mushroomed so they created the full weekend event in 2019.
COVID dealt Inuhele some setbacks and cancellations, but by 2022 the Chaffins were back on track with both events running full steam ahead and looking forward to a bright future.
Inuhele and Atlanta Tiki Bar Tour history
Feb. 24, 2018 – Atlanta Tiki Home Bar Tour. Today’s Inuhele sprung from this small, one-day event hosted by Jonathan and Allison Chaffin. A busload of Tikiphiles toured some of the city’s acclaimed home bars, then concluded the night at the historic Trader Vic’s.
Feb. 15-17, 2019 – Inuhele: Atlanta’s Tiki Weekend. The event exploded in year two, encompassing three days of seminars, vendors, live music, plus the signature home bar tour. Headquartered at the Marriott Century Center, Inuhele welcomed panelists Brother Cleve, Tim “Swanky” Glazner, Paul Senft and others. Bands included Kinky Waikiki and The Mystery Men. Featured artists Derek Yaniger, Kymm Bang, Pat Vassar, John Mulder and many more joined the party.
March 6-8, 2020 – Inuhele: Atlanta’s Tiki Weekend.On the cusp of the coronavirus pandemic, the second Tiki Weekend was held at the downtown Marriott. No home bar tour was held this year, but the weekender was filled with top-notch guests including Sven Kirsten, Basement Kahuna, The Manakooras, “Typhoon Tommy” Allsmiller, and Eve Bergeron of Trader Vic’s.
Sept. 25, 2021 – Atlanta Tiki Home Bar Tour. Events returned on a limited basis during the summer, and the fourth bar tour was the first step toward bringing back the full-blown event.
Jan 28-30, 2022 – Inuhele: Atlanta’s Tiki Weekend. The third Inuhele moved to the Sheraton and welcomed back guests after a one-year hiatus. VIPs included Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Tiki Diablo, Jeff Granito, Heather and Ken Pleasant, and Jason T. Smith.
June 25, 2022 – Atlanta Tiki Home Bar Tour. Moving to an early summer date, the fourth bus tour of the city’s creative home Tiki lairs continued the legacy of the original.
Past coverage on The Atomic Grog
* Inuhele celebrates Atlanta’s meteoric rise as Tiki destination (2019)
* Iron TikiTender goes on tour for Atlanta regional competition (2019)
Official sites and social media
Inuhele: Website | Facebook: Page and group | Instagram | Twitter
Horror in Clay: Website | Facebook | Instagram
MORE EVENT COVERAGE
UPDATES: The Tiki Times: Exclusive events guide
Check the calendar for all of the major happenings around the world, from Tiki weekenders to rum festivals to marketplaces and music fests.
>>> SEE ALL OF THE TOP 2023 EVENTS
The Year in Tiki 2022: Take a trip back to the year’s top events
Relive the year’s top happenings with photos and video, social media posts, plus promotional artwork and links to official sites.
EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE OF THE MAI-KAI
NEW: Historic preservation board approves The Mai-Kai’s renovation plans, clearing way for project to move forward
Landmark Polynesian restaurant allowed to remove old building, make other enhancements in sweping plan to reimagine 66-year-old, 2.7-acre property. Final approval could come on Jan. 26.
>>> FULL COVERAGE, EXCLUSIVE IMAGES
The Mai-Kai turns 66 as work progresses on multiple renovation projects
There are many reasons to be hopeful that the 67th anniversary in 2023 will be the first since 2019 when we’ll once again be able to gather inside the historic Fort Lauderdale restaurant to appreciate its grandeur and beauty.
>>> Get the inside scoop on the refurbishments at The Mai-Kai
The Mai-Kai’s new owner reveals renovation plans during The Hukilau
Tiki enthusiasts get preview of refurbishment of the 65-year-old landmark during discussion at annual event in June.
The Mai-Kai’s renovation plans include reimagined entryway, new event space
When The Mai-Kai completes a multimillion-dollar renovation, guests of the historic restaurant will be treated to several major enhancements, including a more immersive arrival experience and a new banquet hall.
The Mai-Kai fans rejoice as new partnership paves way for reopening
Everything you need to know about the historic restaurant’s new join ownership deal that will include at least $5 million in renovations.
Okole Maluna Society: The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide
Hurricane Hayward reviews and rates the historic restaurant’s current and past tropical drinks, plus reveals a treasure trove of ancestor and exclusive tribute recipes.